It is a common misconception that in order to immigrate to Canada on a business or entrepreneurial-related visa, one must be of high net worth with substantial capital, operate a large organization, or obtain an angel investor support letter for a start-up visa. While this is generally true, it is not always the case, which has inadvertently discouraged small-to medium-sized foreign businesses from expanding locally or moving to Canada.

In one of our recent cases, the client and his family were granted permanent residency through an entrepreneurial work visa for an SME (small- to medium-sized enterprise) business.

This was through the Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) and Owner-Operator work permits. Before examining the specifics of the case, it’s crucial to understand the purpose of ICT and how to utilize as a stepping stone to permanent residency?

The ICT stream is an immigration program that permits international companies to temporarily transfer highly-trained, qualified foreign workers to Canada, improving management effectiveness, expanding Canadian exports, and enhancing competitiveness in overseas markets. The ICT program has had great success in the past and is known for providing the best opportunity for international businesses to expand and help grow the SME industry in Canada. For workers, this stream is often overlooked as also a potential alternative that can lead to permanent residency.

One distinguishing feature of an ICT work visa is that it may not necessitate a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), which is required for most other work visa permits. An LMIA is a document that demonstrates the requirement for a foreign worker to fill a position, where no Canadian workers or permanent residents are available to complete the task.

So how does as an entrepreneur go about applying for permanent residency via ICT?

As a SME business owner, an applicant can use the Owner-Operator stream to expand their present firm by creating a company in Canada.

An Owner-Operator work permit is a two-step program in which a temporary work visa acts as a springboard towards becoming a permanent resident of Canada. It allows one to purchase an established Canadian business or start one from scratch and create a work position for yourself as a company employee.

One must be a majority shareholder (50.01 percent or more) in a Canadian company or register a sole proprietorship; submit a viable or solid business plan; and demonstrate that the applicant’s temporary entry will result in the creation or retention of employment opportunities for Canadians and permanent residents, as well as the transfer of skills to Canadians. Unlike other work visa streams, there is no minimum net worth requirement for this stream; one may either buy an existing firm or start a new one and while the Owner-Operator work permit requires an LMIA, an ICT does not.

Case Study:

In the case in point the client, an Iranian citizen, has a bachelor’s degree in computer science with an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) overall band score of six. He has no Canadian relatives for the extra Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) points, his spouse does not have a tertiary education and neither one had Canadian work experience or a Canadian degree prior to arriving here.

In 2018, he made the decision to immigrate on the basis of exploring business opportunities in Canada after identifying a gap in the market for computer supplies in the lucrative information technology (IT) industry nationally.

In partnership with a Canadian citizen, the client’s business was incorporated under the laws of the province of Ontario in May 2018. With the intention to create an economic growth infrastructure for the local economy by honing the skills of locals and obtaining domestic IT supplies, a business plan was submitted, together with his application for a temporary work visa.

In October 2018, his one-year temporary work permit was approved as an NOC 00 executive management position for his registered company. Subsequently, in November 2018, we lodged an open work permit visa for the client’s spouse on the basis of her husband’s work permit and it was approved in December 2018. The couple was afforded an extension to their work visa in December 2019 by which point the client had successfully established his company, sourced real estate and was employing locals.

In July 2020, he entered into the pool to apply for a permanent residency (PR) through the Express Entry program. He was now eligible for PR because of the 246 extra CRS points (46 and 200 for Canadian Work Experience and Arranged Employment, respectively) that he gained through his work experience as an executive director for his own company. His overall CRS points accumulated to 576, which was sufficient to receive an ITA (Invitation to Apply) in March 2021. In August 2021, the client’s, his spouse and minor son’s application for permanent residency was approved and soon they will be eligible to apply for Canadian citizenship.

At Yazdani Law firm, we find creative, ingenious pathways to business work visas and permanent residency within the current policies and requirements of various immigration streams based on the complexities of the client’s circumstances.

With a success rate of over 200 ICT approvals resulting to permanent residency, YLG takes pride in being a leader in business-related immigration and innovation.