With their innovative ideas and unique business expertise, entrepreneurial foreign workers help the Canadian economy to grow
Several Canadian permanent resident immigration programs target entrepreneurs, but the process can be longer than it would otherwise be for a temporary period in Canada. For this reason, many entrepreneurs first enter Canada by obtaining a temporary work permit. Due to many of Canada’s economic immigration programs value Canadian work experience, entrepreneurs with such experience can leverage this in support of their candidacy or application for Canadian permanent resident status.
Below is an overview of the Canadian work permit options available to entrepreneurs.
Under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), citizens of the United States (U.S.) or Mexico who invest in new or existing businesses in Canada may be eligible to apply for Investor work permits to manage their Canadian business(es). The NAFTA Investor program allows American or Mexican entrepreneurs who have already made a significant investment in a Canadian business to enter Canada to develop and direct that business. Typically, the investor is the majority shareholder or sole owner of the business in Canada. As part of the application, the investor must prepare a business plan providing details of the total capital required to establish or purchase the business and provide evidence that a significant portion of these funds have already been irrevocably committed to the project. There is an expectation that the business will generate jobs or other benefits to the local economy and will not be purely self-supporting to the investor.
While the NAFTA Investor work permit is only available to citizens of the U.S. and Mexico, other types of entrepreneurial work permits have no such citizenship restrictions.
Entrepreneurs who plan to continue to operate an existing foreign business while also expanding into Canada may qualify for an Intra-Company Transferee work permit. The Intra-Company Transfer program is primarily used by multinational corporations to move management and key staff between branches, but it can also be well suited for entrepreneurs wanting to establish a new business in Canada.
Intra-company transfer is often a preferred option for entrepreneurs who plan to divide their time between managing their current overseas business and starting a new Canadian branch, subsidiary or affiliate. The basic requirements of the program are as follows:
Entrepreneurs investing in a Canadian business that is not related to an existing foreign business may consider a work permit under either the Entrepreneurs/self-employed candidates seeking to operate a business category or a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA)-based work permit for owner operators.