Alberta, CA, 16 June 2020 – Featured below are three federal immigration pathways to immigrate to Canada as a business owner, investor, or entrepreneur. All three of these federal pathways require the establishment or purchase of a business in Canada accompanied by a comprehensive LMIA business plan, a Start-up Visa business case, or an ICT business plan in addition to other requirements upon submission. Canada Immigration and Visa services is experienced and fluent in all 3 pathways to come to Canada and will assist foreign nationals in the development of their Canadian business, business plan, and other required action items to achieve status in Canada.

Owner Operator LMIA Pathway

The Owner Operator LMIA pathway is a strategic way to immigrate to Canada by starting or purchasing a business, achieving a work permit, and ultimately a permanent resident visa. The Owner Operator LMIA pathway is one of the fastest methods to Permanent Residency for a business owner or investor immigrant. For eligible candidates and their families, Permanent Residency can be achieved in under 1 year. It is a 2 staged process that leverages the Owner Operator subset of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program administered through Service Canada to first achieve an approved LMIA to work in Canada as a business owner/operator. This requires the start or purchase of a business in Canada, the submission of a comprehensive LMIA business plan, and other action items to obtain an approval. A positive LMIA from Service Canada (administered through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program) results in a CRS point score increase of either 50 or 200 points, depending on the NOC code (job category) of the owner operator LMIA.

For many prospective immigrants, a 200-point CRS score boost will trigger an immediate invitation to apply as a federal skilled worker in Express Entry, and express entry permanent resident applications are typically processed in under 6 months. In the event the LMIA applicant only receives a 50-point LMIA, they will still be able to work in Canada on their business and obtain an open work permit for their spouse and visitor records for their children. An LMIA, either 50 or 200 point, can be issued for up to 2 years. It is likely that during the two years of working in Canada the applicant will gain additional points, work experience, improved English, spousal work experience, and other such factors that could position the applicant to be drawn in Express Entry. Often, the presence of the applicant working in Canada can result in a provincial nomination for permanent residency.

For more information and a detailed breakdown on the Owner Operator LMIA pathway to permanent residency in Canada, please visit the Canada Immigration & Visa Services website.

Federal Start-up Visa Program

The Federal Start-up Visa program is one of the most asked about federal immigration programs for entrepreneurs and business investors. Unlike the Owner Operator LMIA pathway, rather than using Service Canada as a vehicle to obtain an LMIA and a subsequent CRS points increase for Express Entry, a Start-up visa work permit and permanent residency can be issued by Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada after obtaining a commitment certificate from a Designated Organization. There is a list of around 40 designated organizations approved by Immigration Canada that can issue commitment certificates in three separate categories: business incubators/accelerators, angel investor groups, and venture capital funds.

The first step and most challenging step for prospective business immigrants to Canada is obtaining the commitment certificate. A business incubator or accelerator receives thousands of applications a year from foreign nationals and well as Canadians who wish to join the incubator. The cost of being a member at an incubator can be upwards of $100,000 for a year of business incubation in some circumstances and as low as $20,000 in others. Obtaining the interest of a venture capital or an angel investor can be equally, if not more challenging as the applicant really must have a promising business concept, and well-written business plan to instill confidence in investors. For designated angel investors, the minimum investment required to be made in the Canadian company is $75,000 and for venture capital firms it’s $150,000. However, once the commitment certificate is issued, it is possible to apply for a work permit as well as submit a paper-based application for permanent residency. It is estimated that permanent residency takes about 18 months to be issued at current processing times for the Start-up visa pathway. The business must also be considered a “Start-up” which means it has the ability to rapidly scale and reach global markets.

For more information and a detailed breakdown on the Start-up Visa pathway to permanent residency in Canada, please visit the Canada Immigration & Visa Services website.

Intra-Company Transferee (ICT)

The Intra-Company Transferee program was designed for and allows a foreign national to work in Canada at a Canadian company without requiring an LMIA to do so. The program was designed to allow a business owner, manager, or specialized knowledge worker at a multinational company to work for a newly established Canadian company as a branch of the foreign, multinational company. To obtain an Intra-Company Transferee work permit, there is no designated organization like the Start-up Visa program that a commitment certificate needs to be obtained from. There also is no comprehensive LMIA application required to be made to Service Canada under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program in the case of the Owner Operator LMIA pathway. The application for an ICT work permit is LMIA-exempt and made directly to Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada. However, sometimes the biggest caveat to the Intra-Company Transferee work permit and pathway to permanent residency is having or proving a “qualifying relationship” between the new Canadian company and the foreign, multinational company. The program was designed to give foreign nationals the ability to work in Canada to establish the Canadian operations of the foreign company.

The requirements for the qualifying relationship are highly scrutinized by Immigration Canada and it is critical that the foreign national business investor can prove they have been working at the international company for at least 1 year. It is important that the international company is a “multinational enterprise” with operations in more than just one country besides Canada. The ICT pathway can be navigated to achieve a work permit, but this is where the pathway to permanent residency in Canada becomes a little more challenging in comparison to the Owner Operator LMIA pathway. This is because there is no issuance of an LMIA from Service Canada, as an ICT work visa is LMIA-exempt. This means there are no additional CRS points issued upon a foreign national’s ability to work in Canada, unlike the case of the Owner Operator LMIA pathway where up to 200 additional CRS points can be granted. However, if the ICT work permit holder works for the new Canadian company for at least one year, or several years, it is possible that they can improve their CRS score in a similar fashion to LMIA workers in Canada by improving their English scores, obtaining work experience, obtaining a Canadian education, and other such methods as mentioned earlier in the Owner Operator LMIA pathway.

For more information and a detailed breakdown on the Intra-Company Transferee pathway to working for business investors in Canada, please visit the Canada Immigration & Visa Services website.

Media Contact

Sean McKinsley
Canada Immigration & Visa Services
1822 10 Ave SW, Calgary, AB T3C 0J8