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Innovation Stream Pilot will allow certain employers to hire foreign workers without needing an LMIA.

Introduction to the Innovation Stream Pilot for LMIA-Exempt Work Permits

Canada’s Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has introduced a new pilot called the Innovation Stream, under the International Mobility Program, which allows for the issuance of an employer-specific work permit to foreign nationals destined to work for Global Hypergrowth Project (GHP) employers. This initiative, operational until March 22, 2026, aims to bolster Canada’s economic competitiveness and is detailed through policy and procedural guidance available on the IRCC’s website for both stakeholders and IRCC staff.

Overview of LMIA Exemption Code C88

The LMIA (Labour Market Impact Assessment) exemption code C88 facilitates the process for high-skilled foreign workers, by exempting certain Global Hypergrowth Project employers from the need to secure an LMIA before hiring foreign talent. Work permit applications under this code can be made before entry, upon entry, or after entry into Canada, involving both IRCC and the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) in the process.

Innovation Stream Pilot Employers

The following employers are part of the innovation stream pilot:


Alaya Care






Vive Crop

Eligibility Criteria

Eligibility under the C88 code requires that the applicant:

  • Submit their work permit application online unless exempted from electronic applications.
  • Have obtained an offer of employment number from an employer participating in the GHP.
  • Receive an offer for a position categorized under TEER 0, 1, 2, or 3, with wages meeting or surpassing median hourly wages by province or territory.

Wage Assessment

The wage offered must meet the higher of two tests:

  1. It must be at or above the provincial or territorial median hourly wage.
  2. It must fulfill the terms of the applicable collective bargaining agreement, or if not under such an agreement, it must exceed the prevailing wage defined either as the regional median hourly wage or within the wage range for similar positions in the area.

Application Process

The application assessment involves a thorough review of whether the foreign national can perform the specific work sought in Canada, including meeting the educational and experience requirements as outlined by the National Occupational Classification for the offered position.

Decision-Making and Approval

The final approval for the work permit involves entering specific details such as case type, province of destination, NOC code, and intended occupation into the Global Case Management System. Work permits can be issued for up to five years, contingent on the passport’s validity or the job offer’s duration.

Refusals and Open Work Permits for Family Members

Officers are tasked with recording reasons for any decision to refuse a work permit application, adhering to a standard of reasonable decision-making. Concurrently, family members of high-skilled workers may apply for an open work permit under specific conditions, further facilitating the integration and settlement of skilled workers in Canada.


The Innovation Stream represents a significant shift in Canada’s approach to immigration, emphasizing the strategic importance of high-skilled foreign workers in enhancing the nation’s economic landscape. Through the LMIA exemption and streamlined processes, IRCC is supporting Canada’s competitive edge on a global scale while providing substantial opportunities for talented foreign nationals and their families. This pilot not only simplifies the immigration pathway for high-skilled occupations but also underscores Canada’s commitment to fostering innovation and economic growth through progressive immigration policies.

How can I help you?

If you are an employer who needs help in applying for your employees’ work permits, or an employee needing to apply for one, please get in touch and I can help you with the whole process end to end.



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