Special Bulletin:  Sean G McKinsley (Managing Partner) and Connie Kwok (Hong Kong Asia Pacific Team Lead) update on how clients are building businesses and rebooting the Canadian economy using the Owner Operator LMIA Pathway to Permanent Residence in Canada.


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The Owner Operator Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) pathway is a great option for foreign nationals who are looking to become permanent residents and settle in Canada as business owners and operators. To facilitate admission into Canada under the Owner Operator LMIA stream, a foreign national must have a controlling share (50.1%+) in an existing Canadian business or launch their own business in Canada in which they have a controlling share. The Owner Operator LMIA pathway is most suitable for three types of individuals looking to become permanent residents of Canada.

  • Foreign nationals that have an established business in their home country or in several countries and are looking to launch their business in Canada by obtaining an Owner Operator LMIA;
  • Foreign nationals who have the financial assets to launch a new business in Canada and be approved for an Owner Operator LMIA; and / or
  • Foreign nationals who have the financial assets to purchase an existing business in Canada to become the Owner Operator and be approved for an Owner Operator LMIA.

The process to becoming a permanent resident of Canada through the Owner Operator LMIA pathway is summarized in an estimated possible timeline below and how CIVS can help to make it real for you and your family to immigrate to Canada:

Step 1:

Purchase an existing Canadian business or start your own business in Canada

There are several requirements for your business, whether purchased as an existing business, or as a start up, to enable you to be eligible for the Owner Operator LMIA pathway to immigration. As licensed and regulated immigration professionals, Sean G McKinsley (Managing Director at CIVS) specialize in business immigration. The team at Canada Immigration and Visa Services – CIVS – are highly knowledgeable and can provide professional consultation, advice, and support on whether the business you choose to start or purchase is eligible for the Owner Operator pathway.

Deciding what type of business you want to purchase, what business you want to start, the amount of capital you have, and where you want to settle in Canada for you and your family are all equally important. It is critical to investigate all these factors and more with the support of CIVS to make the transition to Canadian permanent residency and give your business the best chance of success.

CIVS will provide you with all the resources and support during this step to help you choose the right place to settle in Canada and support you with launching or purchasing your business.

For more information on the types of businesses that are eligible for purchase or start up through the owner operator LMIA pathway, please visit this link for more info: Starting your business in Canada 

Step 2: Submit an Owner Operator LMIA to ESDC (Employment and Social Development Canada) a subsidiary of Service Canada

An Owner Operator LMIA must be approved (confirmed) to have a positive or neutral impact on the Canadian labour market.  This determination is made by Service Canada (ESDC) for you to be eligible to work at your newly started or purchased business in Canada. LMIA stands for: Labour Market Impact Assessment. The main point for the government approving or refusing LMIA’s is dependent on whether or not the issue of an LMIA (under the Owner Operator stream) will be viewed as a positive or neutral (not negative) to the Canadian economy. That is to say:  will an approved Owner Operator LMIA create more jobs for Canadians or will it negatively impact the job market?

At Canada Immigration and Visa Services, we focus extensively on the Owner Operator LMIA stream pathways for investor immigration and process significant amounts per month with many of our applications being approved. We know how to submit applications to Service Canada (ESDC) correctly and what types of supporting documentation is necessary for your application to be approved.

CIVS will provide you with all the resources and support you need to give you the greatest chance at having your Owner Operator LMIA approved.

For more information on what is required in an Owner Operator LMIA and how to get a positive approval please click: Requirements for Owner Operator LMIA

 Step 3: Obtain your work permit based on a positive LMIA

When your Owner Operator LMIA gets a positive response (this is called LMIA confirmation) from ESDC Canada, you are now eligible to obtain a work permit to work in Canada. Depending on your citizenship and residence, you may be able to apply at a Port of Entry to Canada. Otherwise, you may need to apply online for your work permit outside of Canada and processing times can vary.

Once you have your work permit, it will be valid for the time that your Owner Operator LMIA is approved for. Typically, your LMIA and work permit will be good for a period of up to 2 years, although some work permits are limited for a shorter time period at the discretion of the Government of Canada.

CIVS will support you in filing your work permit application with the government of Canada to avoid common mistakes and potential delays in your processing.

For more information on applying for your work permit with your approved Owner Operator LMIA please see the link: Applying for your LMIA

Step 4: Obtain Permanent Residency

Over the course of your valid work permit, it is imperative that an appropriate permanent residency stream is determined for you to successfully obtain your permanent residency in Canada. Depending on your English or French language skills, education, age, and other factors, the permanent residency stream that is most applicable to your needs to be decided carefully. This is because processing times and delays ensure that you need to plan accordingly to avoid any disruption of your status to work in Canada.

CIVS will support you in applying for your Permanent Residency using the appropriate stream, whether Express Entry (Federal Skilled Worker), Express Entry (CEC), or a separate and applicable provincial stream for your specific case.

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