Updated September 1, 2020: Critical Update – Program Changes to Owner Operator Pathway to Canada – Business Must Be Operational. https://civs.ca/2020/08/special-bulletin-program-changes-to-owner-operator-pathway-to-canada-business-must-be-operational/

Starting Your Business in Canada

By Sean G McKinsley, BA, RCIC, Managing Partner, Canada Immigration and Visa Services (CIVS)

Coming to Canada under the Owner-Operator Pathway is 2-Staged Program

The Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) program is a suitable vehicle to facilitate the admission to Canada of a foreign owner, following the sale of a Canadian business or the launch of a new entity.

For foreign investors, this pathway to Canada is 2-staged, beginning with a temporary work permit under the federal Owner-Operator rules.  These policies will apply for the sale and transfer of a significant portion of ownership in a Canadian business to a foreign national.  Once admitted on a work permit, successful candidates can at a later stage, apply for permanent residence to Canada under one of the programs serviced by the Express Entry system or under a suitable provincial business immigration stream.

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Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) Exemption – Entrepreneur and Self-Employed as Business Owner Operator

For most applicants, if you want to apply for a work permit or business in Canada, you need a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) from Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) and a job offer letter from your future employer.  This usually requires advertising an employment opportunity a month in advance firstly to Canadians, First Nations or Permanent Residents. However, under the Owner-Operator pathway, exemptions or “variation” from this advertising requirement.

Purchasing an Existing Business

This LMIA exemption or variation is available for Business Owners who  are eligible for an LMIA exemption if they own a controlling share in a business and cannot be fired from their employment.

A “controlling share” is defined as the person who is a sole proprietor, or the only voting shareholder, or who is sa hareholder with a minimum of 50.1% of the shares. The owner operator must also be involved in the daily business activities concurrently have an employment relationship with the company. That is to say, the employee cannot be dismissed because s/he is the majority or 100% owner of his/her own company).   This is not a passive (non-active) investment pathway.  Thus “owner-operator” who manages the day-to-day business of the employer company.

For Start Ups / Create a New Business

The Owner Operator LMIA Exemption or Variation requires the employer to have been “actively engaged” in the business prior to applying for a work permit under this pathway.

For start ups (a new company) a future owner-operator needs to demonstrate that s/he is an active participant through preparatory activity, which could be proof of:

Investment in business;

  1. Negotiating business contracts (for instance, signing a lease agreement);
  2. Establishing / applying for a Business Number (BN) registration with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA);
  3. Applying for and receiving Licenses or Permits; and
  4. Presenting a well thought out and detailed Business Plan.

To Recap – The Owner Operator LMIA Pathway to Working in Canada is open to

An Entrepreneur and or self-employed individual;

Majority owner (not less than 50.1%) and cannot be dismissed from the management of the enterprise;

Employs or will employ at least one Canadian, First Nations or Permanent Resident; and

Will operate a business in Canada that contributes a significant social, cultural or economic benefit or a work opportunities for Canadian citizens, First Nations or Permanent Residents in Canada.

Are you an existing business owner looking to take your business to the next level?

Canada Immigration and Visa Services (CIVS) assists qualified individuals in making their dream come true in coming to Canada as a Business Owner.

We are a turn-key service provider.  We look for the most appropriate area in the country to fit your specific business needs. We look for your target market and position you there, in the middle of all traffic. We strive to offer you the best services at best turnaround time in the market.

Contact us for a free evaluation and consultation about your potential to come to Canada as a business Owner Operator.

Here is our Process:

  1. We start by getting to know you and your business idea. We provide you with a free initial consultation.
  2. We consider options for you to start up or acquire a business in the region of Canada you choose.
  3. We do our research and make sure that your needs on a personal, social family and economic basis are taken care of in our planning with you.
  4. Your business will be prepared from start to end. We have relationships with bankers, accountants and other professionals that may even assist you in applying for Canadian bank loans and other forms of business financing.
  5. After coming to Canada, you and your family will be eligible for have health and your children can attend school.
  6. You may find yourself to be fortunate compared with other newcomers to Canada because you are coming prepared for resettlement in Canada with a business and the tools you and your family need to be successful.

At Canada Immigration and Visa Services (CIVS) we are proud to offer our clients assistance to:

  • Establish a subsidiary of a foreign company in Canada
  • Establish a new company in Canada
  • Purchase an existing business in Canada
  • Obtaining visas and permits for the business owners, managers, employees and family members in Canada

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About the author:  Prior to establishing Canada Immigration and Visa Services (CIVS), Mr. McKinsley served as the senior legislative aide for two prominent Members of the House of Commons of Canada.  Mr. McKinsley also has a distinguished career in the public and private sectors having held positions of Chief Operating Officer of a Western Canadian Law Firm and past Executive Director of a provincial Taxpayers’ Association.