Canadian Significant Benefit Work Permits: How can I get one?

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) officials must consider the possible impacts on Canadian workers before granting foreign workers a permit. Therefore, a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) is often mandatory.

However, if a ‘significant benefit’ exemption is recognised, the need for an LMIA can be bypassed—specifically if the advantages gained from granting a work permit greatly surpass the possible negative effects of not admitting the foreign worker or delaying their entry to Canada. In such scenarios, even in the absence of an LMIA, other factors can allow a foreign worker to obtain a Significant Benefit Work Permit (SBWP)—an LMIA-exempt work permit that aims to have a much faster processing time.

Note that SBWPs must be applied for by the employer, and not by the individual foreign worker.

What counts as significant benefit?

An applicant aiming to secure a SBWP in Canada must demonstrate that their employment will significantly benefit Canada economically, socially, or culturally.

The definition of significant benefits in this sense can be abstract but extends to an evaluation of how the engagement of an international worker will contribute to Canada’s economic stability.

Such contributions may involve generating employment, developing an industry or sector in a remote area or specific region, or promoting export markets for Canadian goods and services. Furthermore, if the employee’s work could aid in the progress of a Canadian industry (such as through technological advancements, product, or service innovation) or help enhance Canadian skill sets, they may see greater success applying for these work permits.

The work of the foreign national could also lead to an improvement in the overall health and wellbeing, both physical and mental, of people across Canada or within specific regions. Lastly, the addition of the foreign worker could promote tolerance, increase knowledge, or provide opportunities for interaction amongst individuals of similar or different cultural backgrounds.

There are also more specific criteria for each kind of significant benefit that foreign workers could provide.

  • Applicants must also show their distinguished record in their specific field. Specifically, they must show a distinguished track record through:
  • Relevant academic documents demonstrating that the worker has educational credentials in their field of expertise;
  • Documentation from previous or current employers showcasing significant (ten or more years) full-time work experience in their field;
  • Recognition through international or national awards or patents;
  • Membership in organisations that demand members to excel;
  • Positions held where they have evaluated others’ work;
  • Evidence of acknowledged work, accomplishments, and contributions in their field by peers, government, or professional bodies;
  • Testimony of scientific or scholarly contributions to their sector;
  • Publications in academic or industry-specific platforms;
  • Leadership roles in reputable organisations; and/or
  • Recruiting foreign workers recruited through Destination Canada or other job fairs coordinated with the federal government and francophone minority communities; and/or working in jobs classified under National Occupation Classification 0, A and B outside the province of Quebec.

Canadian authorities consider a set of criteria before issuing work permits, which include the foreign worker’s educational qualifications, work experience, awards or patents received, membership in organisations needing exemplary performance, and other achievements and contributions in their field.

Who is eligible for a Significant Benefit Work Permit?

In assessing a SBWP application, immigration officers are instructed to consider:

  • Requirements met and exemptions included in the application (specifically how the application would meet requirements for an LMIA);
  • Duties of the position that the foreign worker will undertake, and how they align with significant benefit criteria;
  • Job Requirements that align with this significant benefit;
  • Minimum education requirements for the position and if they are met;
  • Any additional training that is required for the role; and
  • Provincial/Federal certification, licensing or registration required to work in the occupation in Canada.

Those who qualify for a significant benefit work permit include:

  • Intra-Company Transferees: Foreign nationals working for a multinational company planning to join its Canadian parent, subsidiary, or branch in an executive, senior managerial, or specialized knowledge job;
  • Television and Film Production Workers: TV and film industry workers whose role is essential to a production ;
  • Entrepreneurs and Self-Employed Workers: Those initiating a business in Canada or opting for self-employment, capable of demonstrating their activities would result in significant economic, social, or cultural benefits for Canada; and
  • Emergency Repair Personnel: Workers needed for urgent repairs to industrial or commercial equipment to circumvent employment disruption in Canada.

In addition, there are unique circumstances under which certain professionals may be exempt from needing an LMIA, and may further be eligible for a SBWP.

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