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Immigration Opportunities for Foreign Business Owners & Entrepreneurs – Beyond Provincial Nominee and Visa Start-Up Programs


Immigration Opportunities for Foreign Business Owners & Entrepreneurs

Often foreign business owners and entrepreneurs who want to immigrate to Canada look to Provincial Nominee Program Business programs or the Federal Start-up Visa without exploring other options for working or living in Canada. There are over 60 immigration programs available to immigrate to Canada. It’s not just the two programs mentioned above that are open to business owners and entrepreneurs.

Here are three other pathways that are worth exploring as a foreign business owner and entrepreneur: Intra-Company Transferee Program; Intra-Company Transferee Program – Start-up; Study Permit, Student/Graduate Work Permits and Spousal Work Permits

Intra-Company Transferee

Companies that are located in Countries that have international agreements with Canada, including North America Free Trade Agreement or those countries part of the World Trade Organization, can participate in the intra-company transferee program. The foreign company must be established and be conducting business at an international level. They must also be in a working relationship with an established Canadian parent, affiliate, subsidiary or branch company. If this relationship exists, the company can transfer certain workers to work temporarily in the Canadian company. Workers who qualify must be in a senior management, executive or specialized knowledge position.

As an intra-company transferee, you can apply for a work permit without a Labour Market Opinion (LMO). In most cases when a Canadian company wants to hire a foreign national, it must apply for an LMO from Service Canada and demonstrate it cannot find a permanent resident or Canadian for the position. Service Canada then issues a positive LMO, which is submitted along with a work permit application by the foreign national. This can take weeks or months to obtain and a positive LMO is not guaranteed.

As an intra-company transferee, a work permit can be valid for up to 5 years for executives and senior managers, or 7 years for specialized knowledge workers.

And while working in a skilled position in Canada, an intra-company transferee may qualify for permanent residency through Skilled Workers and Professionals Category, Canadian Experience Class or a Provincial Nominee Program.

For more information and to determine if your business qualifies, please contact us.

Intra-Company Transferee Start-up

A foreign company can expand to Canada under the Intra-Company Transferee – Start Up program. These foreign companies send a senior executive, manager or specialized knowledge worker to temporarily help establish or expand its Canadian branch or subsidiary.

This type of application requires the foreign company to prove they have the ability for their company to become established in Canada. Documents include proof of financial means to support the start-up, business plan for staffing and doing business in Canada, and resume and qualifications of staff member being transferred. They may also need prove that a physical location has been secured or will soon be secured.

Staff members that are being transferred must be in an Executive, Managerial role or have specialized knowledge that is essential to the business start-up.

Like the regular Intra-Company transferee program, while working in a skilled position in Canada, they may qualify for permanent residency through Skilled Workers and Professionals Category, Canadian Experience Class or a Provincial Nominee Program.

For more information and to determine if your business qualifies, please contact us.

Study Permit, Student/Graduate Work Permits and Spousal Work Permits

When studying in Canada, there are options for the student and the spouse to obtain work permits, and potentially permanent residency in the future.

As a student, a foreign national can get an off-campus work permit to work part-time while studying, including starting their own business. Upon graduation, the student may qualify for an open post-graduate work permit, where they can continue building their business.

The spouse of the student can also apply for an open work permit while the student is in school and after graduation, when they have their post-graduate work permit.

Studying may work really well for a couple, where one spouse wants to study and the other can start the business on a spousal work permit. Eventually both spouses have work permits, which create opportunities to immigrate.

List of schools that qualify for the off-campus work permit or post-graduate work permit can be found here:

Watch a Video about Canadian Immigration for Business Owners and Business Persons.

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To understand business options, please contact us.

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