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Owner Operator LMIA Guidebook Government Manuals and Policies


Why Immigrants Should Choose Alberta, Canada for Permanent Residence

A guidebook about Alberta immigration, permanent residency and the historical opportunity to own real estate property, start a business and prosper in Alberta.

By Sean G McKinsley, Nikola Misina & Steven Joseph Paolasini

Canada Immigration and Visa Services Inc.

Copyright © 2020 Canada Immigration and Visa Services Inc.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other non-commercial uses permitted by copyright law. For permission requests, write to the publisher, addressed “Attention: Permissions Coordinator,” at the address below.

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About the Authors

Sean G McKinsley, B.A., RCIC

Managing Partner and Founder – Canada Immigration and Visa Services Inc

Sean G McKinsley, BA, RCIC is the Managing Partner and Founder of Canada Immigration and Visa Services Inc.

Mr. McKinsley is a Member of the Canadian Association of Professional Immigration Consultants.

Mr. McKinsley is a specialist in Economic Class Immigration. Mr. McKinsley’s practice focus is on the Owner-Operator LMIA business investment pathway for resettlement to Canada. Mr. McKinsley has successfully assisted clients in resettling to Canada from all over the world, including former residents of India, Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, United States, China, Hong Kong, Europe, and South America.

Mr. McKinsley is experienced in public policy, business and has served as the Chief Operating Officer of a Western Canadian Law Firm.

In the past, Mr. McKinsley headed the public opinion research branch of JMCK Polling, which served an extensive list of clients, including senior Members of Parliament, national news media, and private sector energy firms. Mr. McKinsley served from 1996 to 2000 as the Executive Assistant to two prominent Members of the Parliament of Canada. He has also worked as a senior political strategist on national leadership, provincial, and municipal campaigns. Prior to this, Mr. McKinsley was the Executive Director of the Alberta Taxpayers Association.

Mr. McKinsley has a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Calgary (1996) and an Immigration Practitioner Diploma granted by CSIC (2017).

Nikola Misina, B.A., RCIC

Partner – Canada Immigration and Visa Services Inc

Nikola Misina is a Partner at Canada Immigration and Visa Services Inc. (CIVS), based out of the firm’s Calgary location.

Mr. Misina is a licensed recruiter under the Temporary Foreign Worker Protection Act of British Columbia, License No. IS-000096.

Mr. Misina is fluently bilingual in English and the Serbian language.  Mr. Misina has a diverse background in life.

Prior to his career as an immigration practitioner, Mr. Misina  was engaged with one of the largest hotel chains and groups in the world including  Marriott, Sheraton and the Swissport group. Mr. Misina has experience in international selection and hiring in the USA and Canada, human resources development and determining the optimum corporate structure.  Mr. Misina’s life history compliments his insight into assisting clients with solutions to their immigration and citizenship needs.

Mr. Misina is experienced with the ability to assist business and individual employee clients in finding a positive match for their mutual success domestically and internationally.

Mr. Misina’s  goal is to be an outstanding advocate for his clients through applying his complex knowledge of the process of helping clients meet their immigration objectives. Mr. Misina is considered as a specialist  in fields of Federal Skilled Worker Program, Temporary Work (LMIA or LMIA exempt), Student Permits, PNP Programs and Family Sponsorship streams.

Nikola Misina, B.A., RCIC, Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant R524218, earned his Bachelor of Arts Degree in 2006 from Megatrend University, Belgrade, Serbia, in the field of International Marketing and Post-Graduate Degree in 2007 from Swiss Hotel Management School, Leysin Switzerland in the field of Hospitality Management. He also graduated from Ashton College in Vancouver, BC, in 2016 and obtained his Immigration Consultant Diploma.

Steven Joseph Paolasini, B.Eng

Vice-President – Canada Immigration and Visa Services Inc

Steven Joseph Paolasini is the Vice-President at Canada Immigration and Visa Services Inc. (CIVS). Steven is originally from Grimsby, Ontario and earned a degree in Chemical Engineering (2014) from McGill University, located in Montreal, Quebec.

Steven has business development hard-coded into his DNA. He is an entrepreneur to the core. Upon graduation from University, accepted a position in a marketing capacity for a medium-sized energy software company. Shortly after, he launched his first company in 2015 with a fellow co-worker. He positioned the company to assist engineering and law firms with their content and digital marketing strategy. In that same year, he ran for federal politics, unsuccessfully at the age of 24. He has been engaged in several other business ventures since he caught the entrepreneurship bug, including a business incubator that has helped train dozens of people in the marketing capacity and help hundreds of businesses grow.

Steven discovered his passion for immigration when he had to fight to keep his first business partner in Canada. He successfully self-navigated an Owner-Operator LMIA approval in late 2016 but failed to follow through and successfully obtain a PR for his business partner in time. Upon connecting with Sean McKinsley of CIVS, they worked together and subsequently succeeded in obtaining a Start-up Visa nomination for his partner, and his partner was able to return to Canada. It was over the course of this process that Steven became obsessed with business immigration. He is passionate about startups and businesses launched by immigrant entrepreneurs. He believes that Canada can continue to improve and be the ultimate destination in the world by importing the best, brightest and most innovative companies and talent. Steven is achieving this goal as Vice-President of CIVS by assisting business immigration clients in sourcing and starting their business in Canada through various immigration pathways.

Steven aspires to one day run as a Member of Parliament and become the Minister of Immigration in the Canadian government. Steven will do whatever it takes to continue to grow the Canadian economy with immigrant entrepreneurs and business owners and wants Canadian immigration policy to reflect better that Canada is unequivocally the best destination in the world for business immigrants.


This publication may be supplemented by additional materials, which may be downloaded through our website

Additionally, there are more resources available for digital download via, including sample business plans, template documents, and video tutorials.

We also provide professional service packages on an hourly and flat fee basis.

For more information, contact us:

Sean G McKinsley, Managing Partner & Founder RCIC & ICCRC Member R529731 Office: +1-587-400-3350 Fax: +1-587-400-4515 WhatsApp: +1-587-703-9805 Email:

Nikola Misina, Partner RCIC & ICCRC Member R524218 Office: +1-587-400-3350 Fax: +1-587-400-4515 WhatsApp: +1-587-893-7427 Email:

Steve Paolasini, Vice-President, B. Eng Office: +1-587-400-3350 Fax: +1-587-400-4515 WhatsApp: +1-587-703-9805 Email:



We would especially acknowledge Anne Serrano for her unwavering energy and digital marketing savvy, without which this publication would not have come to fruition. We also want to thank Kimberly White and her finance and production teams for their administrative guidance.

We want to express our gratitude to our partners, financiers, professional third-party advisors, and service providers: Ram Chengkalath, CPA, Valsala Chengkalath, Legal Counsel, Mark Felzmann, CFP, EPC, Roberta Gibbons, First Place Realty, Renny Klinot, Capex, Deepak Sodhi, CPA, Theo Klossas, CPA, Jonathan Denis, QC, Officer Jimmy Kritikos, Grant Doyle, Esq,  George Jovica, Esq, Ellis Jovica, Esq, Dr. Sasa Karagic,  Mrs. Tamara Karagic, MA, Steven Loewer, Esq, Jeffrey Jiang, Esq, Soon Thieu, Samer Askar, Jim Brander, CPA, Scott Henderson, DhZ Media, Daniel Larijani, Legal Counsel, Magda Modzelewski, Kevin Herkendaal, Ken Shuler, Husam Al-rameeni, B Eng, Nat Miletic, Esq, Mrs. Dejana Misina, James Carpenter, Esq, Omar Seifeddine, Esq,  Claude & Deborah Solda,  George Kurian, Esq, Jeethna Jose, Country Hills Insurance & Financial Services Inc | The Co-operators and Jovica Property Management.

We want to thank our partners at the National Bank of Canada | Banque Nationale du Canada. National Bank is the financial institution for the newcomers. And we especially appreciate the friendly and our professional team: Samson Lamb, Regional Vice-President Personal Banking, Western Canada, Leigh Doucette, Business Banking team of Western Canada, Tammy Pomper, Branch Manager, Rita – Yuqiang Liu, Branch Manager, Eldee Reyes, Manager,  Specialized Commercial Deposits & SME Banking, Azita Jafari, Advisor, Patricia Lane, Advisor, Iona Brenner, Manager Customers Service, Linda Oviatt, Manager Customer Service, Rachel Fournier-Barber, Manager, Specialized Commercial Deposits and SME Banking, Robyn MacDonald, Senior Service Representative Reception, Karen Lachocki, Branch Advisor, Luxin Qian, Branch Advisor, and Hylton Ferreira, Branch Advisor.

We express our gratitude for the dedicated, professional team at Service Canada with a special appreciation for-

Office of the Deputy Minister:  Benoît Robidoux, Associate Deputy Minister EDC-EDSC

Stephanie Hébert, Sous-ministre adjointe / Assistant Deputy Minister Direction générale des opérations de programmes / Program Operations Branch Service Canada

Katie Alexander Directrice exécutive/ Executive Director  Operations du Programme des travailleurs étrangers temporaires /Temporary Foreign Worker Program Operations Program Operations Branch / Direction Générale des opérations de programmes

Program Officers and Personnel:

Anna Portocarrero, Senior Program Development Officer (Edmonton), Leah Gabretensae, Senior Program Development Officer (Edmonton), Puneet Chabba, Senior Program Development Officer (Edmonton), Mohamed Ibrahim, Program Officer (Edmonton), Andrew Butler, Foreign Worker Program Officer (Atlantic Region), Susan Holita, Program Officer (Atlantic Region), David Johnson, Program Officer – Temporary Foreign Worker Program (Atlantic Region), Harrison Brien, Program Officer – Temporary Foreign Worker Program (Atlantic Region), Roderick Allen, Program Officer – Temporary Foreign Worker Program (Atlantic Region), Timothy Briand-Evans, Program Officer – Temporary Foreign Worker Program (Atlantic Region), A. Kuk, Program Officer – Temporary Foreign Worker Program (Atlantic Region), Kyle Lee, Payment Service Officer (Vancouver), and Grace De La Flor, Payment Service Officer (Edmonton).

We acknowledge and thank Canada Border Services Agency (CSBA) for their service to Canada, especially at Ports of Entry, in keeping us safe and issuing Work Permits to our clients.

We are also grateful to the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada and the departmental personnel for their dedicated service to the administration of immigration policies and law in Canada.

Our special appreciation goes to the head of our Asia Pacific Hong Kong Division, Mrs. Connie Kwok, alongside her indefatigable husband, Mr. Marcus Mak. We welcome and appreciate newly arriving leadership from Hong Kong Asia Pacific group, Mr. Albert Luk On Pak, and Ms. Maria Cheng.

We also want to thank Shalena Bennie and Tania Jasibe Salazar for brightening everyone’s day.

Finally, we wish to thank the leadership from our practice partners, Robin Kapoor and Micky Singh, at Surrey-Vancouver, BC, Regional Headquarters, and Shalini Rana, Rachna Belwal at New Delhi, India Headquarters.

This publication is dedicated to the Honourable Jason Kenney, Premier and Champion of Alberta, for his leadership and service in furtherance of hope, growth and opportunity for all Canadians.


Why Immigrants Should Choose Alberta, Canada for Permanent Residence

Foreword by Sean G McKinsley, Managing Partner, Canada Immigration and Visa Services. My partners Nikola Misina (Sr. Partner, CIVS) and Steven J Paolasini (Vice President, CIVS) are instrumental in the day-to-day operations of our immigration practice.

We are proudly aligned with Robin Kapoor and Micky (Parvinder) Singh of Canoscope Immigration and Education, who add reach and geographical structure through our shared practice reach at the Surrey-Vancouver, BC and New Delhi, India offices.

Together, we work as a team task force for every client and are faithfully yours in success.  This publication is a team effort, which we hope will serve as a practical guidepost for those seeking a concise and detailed overview of navigating the often complex and highly nuanced processes for coming to Canada through the economic stream.

What We Do

Canada Immigration and Visa Services is a leading Canadian-based immigration firm with overseas offices specializing in business immigration to Canada. Our track record of success and positive reputation has been forged by successfully assisting our clients in immigrating to Canada by purchasing an existing business, by starting up an eligible business asset in Canada or by expanding an existing international business operation to Canada.

This guidebook is designed to highlight the opportunity for overseas investors to permanently resettle to Canada by starting, acquiring, or expanding a business in Canada.

Specifically, this book is designed to highlight the opportunities and comparable costs of doing business in Canada and, in particular, the value-based approach of considering the province of Alberta as the place to resettle.

The Team at Canada Immigration and Visa Services is a multi-dimensional organization that assists entrepreneurs, educated professionals and active business owners in sourcing their business opportunities, executing a business plan and providing professional immigration services to maximize a successful outcome.


Why become a Permanent Resident of Canada?

Many of our clients view the value of Canadian Permanent Residency to be priceless. This is due to many reasons and the luxuries a Canadian PR affords you and your family.

  • It is one of the safest countries in the world
  • Rich in natural resources
  • Stable and free country
  • Excellent free public education
  • Excellent free public healthcare
  • Most educated population worldwide
  • Outstanding universities which tuition costs a fraction for Canadian PR’s or Citizens
  • Affordable housing coupled with a very high average purchasing power per person

A Permanent Resident Visa is the final step towards Canadian Citizenship. The Canadian passport is one of the most powerful passports in the world, allowing Visa-Free travel to many countries. Your citizenship can be passed down to your children and your childrens’ children, ensuring your family can have safety, security, wealth, access to healthcare and education, and the other benefits Canadians enjoy every day for generations to come.


Alberta is the most welcoming province for immigrants and business owners. Some of the reasons we believe it’s the best are included below:

Lowest corporate and business taxes:

With the Alberta government lowering business and corporate taxes, not only is Alberta the lowest jurisdiction in Canada but one of the lowest in North America, especially with our current provincial government, the UCP.


The sunniest place in Canada is Medicine Hat, Alberta. Calgary is the sunniest city in Canada. Although the winters can be rough, as with anywhere in Canada, the Chinooks in winter offer a welcome reprieve from the cold.


Alberta is an affordable place to live in. The abundance of land and world-class infrastructure make it the ideal province to raise a family, start a business, and to immigrate to.

UNESCO sites:

Alberta has the most world heritage sites of any province in the country, 6 UNESCO world heritage sites.

No sales tax:

The only tax on sales in Alberta is the GST from the federal government. It is the only province with no provincial sales tax (PST). Alberta has been able to offset the deficit in taxation by charging royalties on oil and gas extraction in the province, which contain the world’s 3rd largest reserves of oil and gas.

Proximity to economic centres in the United States:

Calgary is a short flight to Seattle, to San Jose and San Francisco (Silicon Valley). It is just a 2-hour flight from Las Vegas as well as Denver. Calgary functions as an effective transportation hub.

Proximity to the West Coast

Calgary is a day’s drive, or an hour flight from the 3rd largest port in North America, and the busiest in Canada, Vancouver, BC. The gateway to Asian markets.

Outdoor lovers paradise

Alberta has both the mountains and the plains. Beautiful rivers and streams carve the mountain and prairie landscape. There are many parks and wildlands for all to enjoy.


Alberta is perhaps the province with the least restrictions and regulations with limited government interference, unlike other provinces. Liquor is distributed privately, vehicle registrations are privately controlled, and other parts of the economy, which are government-run in other provinces, are more efficiently privately run in Alberta.


Alberta consistently ranks as the province with the top healthcare in the country. In the midst of the COVID-19 world pandemic, Alberta has maintained the highest testing per capita COVID-19 testing in the country and some of the highest per capita testing rates in the world.


Alberta has some of Canada’s best ranking and fastest-growing post-secondary institutions. University of Alberta (Edmonton) and the University of Calgary are just a couple of the well-known universities in the province.

Good Government

The bold actions by Alberta’s Commander-in-Chief, Mr. Jason Kenney, comes amid COVID-19 and uncertainty over the economic security of Alberta and continental North America.   Mr. Kenney and his team have fundamentally changed the destiny for Albertans for future generations to come by strategically investing in Keystone XL, a pipeline that helps Alberta resources get to the American market.

When every other province was suffering from a lack of employment and work from COVID-19, Jason Kenney and the Alberta government helped facilitate a large, multi-billion dollar project creating 7000 jobs.  Once operational in 2023, Keystone XL will carry 830,000 barrels per day of Alberta crude oil to U.S. Gulf Coast Refineries, helping to protect the value of the energy resources that belong to all Albertans and strengthening energy independence for North America.


Why choose Calgary as your city of business and settlement?

CIVS has success and expertise in assisting our clients to resettle across various provinces in Canada. We do, however, highlight the advantages of our regional headquarters in Calgary, Alberta, which we believe is a remarkable city for business and to settle in for immigrants in Canada. We understand that based upon personal preference, communities, and family, the city of settlement may be chosen on those several other factors rather than just business reasons or ease of landing. However, for those that are open to Calgary, we love Calgary and we love Alberta, and here’s why.

For the second year in a row, Calgary was ranked the most liveable city in North America. This is a ranking performed by the Economist intelligence unit. Some of the reasons Calgary achieves this accolade are listed below:

Affordable Real Estate: You can own a NEW detached home in the city for less than $500,000. New condos start at $200,000, and new Townhomes around $250,000.

High Purchasing Power: On average, Calgarians earn much more than other city dwellers in Canada. The province of Alberta also has the highest minimum wage of any jurisdiction in Canada.

Low Taxes: Alberta has always been a province known for its low taxes. The new provincial government has brought in further tax cuts that are making it the most business-friendly jurisdiction in North America. As the 4th biggest city in Canada, Calgary is 2nd largest in numbers of head offices because of this tax friendliness.

Weather: Calgary is the sunniest city in Canada. While there can be some cold spells in the winter, the average high is –1 in January thanks to our lovely Chinook winds that warm the city from time to time.

Infrastructure: During periods of high oil prices, Calgary was able to build and develop world-leading infrastructure, including highways and public transit. Traffic is a non-issue in Calgary relative to other Canadian cities. You’ll never spend more than 15 minutes in traffic in our experience.

It’s easier here

Whether it’s the private registries, where you can register a vehicle, incorporate a company, or file for marriage in less than a few hours vs. the other provinces that have government-managed institutions and take weeks, or the private sale of liquor that allows stores to be open until 2 am, or the limited regulation on the cannabis outlets which have turned Calgary into the cannabis capital of Canada, business is just easier here.

The provincial governments approach to letting business do what business does best, has made Calgary the most magnificent city in Canada and easiest city to settle in for newcomers, to start a business, purchase a home, and raise a family.

Our Premier (governor of Alberta) is leading our great province with his party dedicated to the ease of doing business and making Alberta the greatest place in Canada to do business and raise a family.




In a world of 7+ billion people, only 0.005% of the world population every year immigrates to Canada. Canada is renowned as one of the most popular destinations in the world for immigrants. There are several different pathways to immigrate to Canada based on different circumstances. For well-financed business immigrants utilizing the Owner-Operator Pathway, the basic requirements we consider a minimum to immigrate successfully.

  • Ability to invest $250,000 CAD for business investment/purchase, working capital, startup capital, settlement capital, application fees, and other services needed to settle in Canada
  • Basic command of the English or French language (IELTS 6 or better)
  • Bachelor degree education is usually required, higher education is preferred
  • Managerial/Executive experience is preferred



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 interest.  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 in 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 and his team 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.


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 pathway for investor immigration and process applications on behalf of clients that are detailed, thorough and address the elements required by the program. We know how to submit applications to Service Canada (ESDC) correctly and what types of supporting documentation are 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.



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 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.



Step 4

Obtain Permanent Residency

Throughout your valid work permit, an appropriate permanent residency stream must be determined for the principal applicant 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 carefully assessed. 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.



Business investors with business experience and capital to invest have several pathways to choose from to immigrate to Canada. Several immigration lawyers and officials have described the Owner Operator Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) as the most sought after path for potential self-employed business investors; who either do not yet meet the narrow requirements for “self-employed” applicants[i] or do not have the support of a designated organization to qualify for an entrepreneur start-up visa program. Very few investors have the capital to invest in the entrepreneurial/investment streams such as Immigrant Investor Venture Capital (IIVC) Pilot Program. The owner operator LMIA pathway has been described as “filling the gap” in business immigration after the failure of other avenues such as the IIVC pilot program which is deemed by some “to be buying your way to Canadian Citizenship.”[ii] In fact, the IIVC pilot program which aimed to attract wealthy immigrant investors’ applicants with a personal net worth of $10 million, (who must invest at least $2 million into a government-approved VC fund) is an utter failure with not even one permanent resident visa granted after one year of launch by 2016.[iii]

What is an LMIA?

Employers in Canada can hire temporary workers to fill temporary labour or skill shortages through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) among other streams and programs.[iv] However, before hiring a temporary foreign worker (TFW) through the TFWP, an employer needs to get an LMIA (unless the work category is excluded).[v] Government of Canada website defines LMIA as a document which an employer may need to get from Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) also known as Service Canada before hiring a foreign worker.[vi] A positive LMIA or a confirmation letter grants permission to the employer who proves that there is a need for a foreign worker to fill the job as no Canadian worker is available and that such hiring will not negatively impact the Canadian labor market.6F[vii]

Common Definitions:

  • Employer– “An entity (e.g. person, business, corporation or organization) that makes an offer of employment to one or more foreign national(s) who provide labour in return for compensation for a specified period. The employer is generally the entity that hires, controls working conditions and remunerates the foreign national.”[viii]
  • Foreign national“An individual who is not a Canadian citizen or permanent resident who is offered employment in Canada in exchange for compensation”.[ix]

Owner Operator LMIA:

Owner/Operator LMIA is a special class of applications within the TFWP whereby a self-employed individual wishing to enter Canada can do so by establishing or purchasing a business. A foreign national would be considered to be an owner-operator if they establish that they have a controlling interest in the business and cannot be fired/ dismissed (only answerable to themselves).9F[x] Controlling interest according to guidelines and policy can be established by either[xi]:

  1. purchasing a business and be involved in its day-to-day operations (being a sole proprietor),
  2. by being the majority shareholder (holding at least 50.1% shares) or
  3. by providing an official document confirming that they hold the majority interest (even if they don’t hold 50.1% of total shares).[xii] There is no specified minimum percentage of shares to be held by a foreign national to be considered an owner-operator. In cases, where there are multiple owners of a business, the largest shareholder or the equal shareholder designated as the “employer” must apply for LMIAs to Service Canada for the other co-owners as “workers”.[xiii]

Individuals who only receive shares (less than to establish the controlling interest) as part of a compensation package are not subject to the term owner-operator.[xiv] The foreign nationals must demonstrate that they have the controlling interest before submitting their application and for the duration of their employment in Canada.[xv] (For a detailed explanation on this point refer to the material under- Four key scenarios),

Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR)

Owner-operators must meet specific requirements and uphold the conditions as set out in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR).  Under section 203(1) of the IRPR,[xvi] work permits may be issued to foreign nationals whose proposed Canadian employer has obtained an opinion from ESDC on the following criteria:

  1. GenuinenessThe officer has to decide whether the job offer is genuine under Section 200(5) of IRPR.[xvii] This provision has to be interpreted in light of the temporary foreign worker program (TFWP) policy published by Service Canada. The current TFW policy requires that an employer must be identified[xviii] and the employer/employee relationship established[xix] to allow ESDC to fulfill its regulatory responsibilities in the administration of the Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) Program. Further as per policy, “An offer of employment is made by an employer or group of employers to a foreign national thereby establishing an employer-employee relationship“.[xx] In cases of owner-operator to establish an employer-employee relationship but in the absence of a job offer, the controlling interest, the business plan or contract to purchase shares in a business are evaluated by ESDC as equivalent to a job offer in the context of the TWFP program.[xxi]

The Genuineness Factors are found under four general headings at IRPR 200 (5)

Genuineness of job offer

(5) A determination of whether an offer of employment is genuine shall be based on the following factors:

(a) whether the offer is made by an employer that is actively engaged in the business in respect of which the offer is made, unless the offer is made for employment as a live-in caregiver;

(b) whether the offer is consistent with the reasonable employment needs of the employer;

(c) whether the terms of the offer are terms that the employer is reasonably able to fulfill; and

(d) the past compliance of the employer, or any person who recruited the foreign national for the employer, with the federal or provincial laws that regulate employment, or the recruiting of employees, in the province in which it is intended that the foreign national work.

  1. Federal-Territorial/Provincial AgreementsSection 203 (1)(c) provides that the issuance of a work permit should not be inconsistent with the terms of any federal-provincial agreement that apply to the employers of foreign nationals[xxii];
  2. Language Restrictions- Section 203(1.01) of IRPR states that if the offer of employment does not require the ability to communicate in English or French then there would be a negative effect on the labour market in Canada; unless among other things, the employer (owner operator) proves that the requirement of ability to communicate in the other language is a “bona fide requirement” for performing the duties associated with the employment.[xxiii] If the offer of employment does not require the ability to communicate in any specific language or requires in any language other than English or French than the officer can assess the genuineness of the offer based on reasonable employment needs of the employer under Section 200(5)(b)).[xxiv] “Reasonable employment needs are those needs which could easily be seen as taking place within the context of the goods and services that the employer business provides and should make basic business sense”.[xxv] Depending upon the decision of the assessing officer the employer has to change the language requirement accordingly. If the employer disagrees with the decision that a language is required and refuses to agree to the change on the LMIA the file can be refused under the Genuineness criteria. In typical LMIA cases, language proficiency proof in the form of a valid IELTS language test with a CLB of 5.0 in each of the 4 components should be submitted. But it is to be kept in mind that there are no set language requirements and suitability is decided on a case by case basis by immigration officers.[xxvi]
  3. Labour Market Factors- There are seven labour market factors identified in Section 203(3) of the IRPR, to determine the impact of the employment of the foreign worker on the Canadian labour market. When assessing owner-operator applications, the focus is on not all the factors but job creation or retention and/or skills transfer for all Canadian citizens and permanent residents and whether their business would also likely have a positive or at least neutral effect on the Canadian labour market.[xxvii] Specific details regarding job specifications along with their timeframes can be recorded which will provide a benchmark and context for future assessment of LMIA applications.[xxviii] Service Canada could then be better positioned to review more documentation from the employer, as well as determine the employer’s progress to-date as per Section 203(3)(g).[xxix]

Four key scenarios and respective considerations in owner-operator applications

The owner-operator publication used for internal reference by officers administering the TFWP mention four common scenarios and the respective considerations that officers have to satisfy themselves with:

  • New Start-up Business- This scenario applies to a foreign national where the individual is 100% owner of a startup company not in operation in Canada yet but dependent on a positive LMIA and Work Permit (WP). The owner-operator guidelines considerations state that the TFW can be considered owner-operator for the LMIA if they can demonstrate that they have considerably prepared to open and operate the business (e.g. have incorporated the business, applied for a business license, entered into a lease agreement, securing contracts, etc.), have a viable business plan, have the intent and plan to retain/hire Canadian citizens and permanent residents within a reasonably short timeframe. If the officer is not satisfied than “refusal can be issued on Actively Engaged (“The employer must have an operating/functioning business, providing either a good or service related to the job offer made to the TFW in Canada.”) as well as on Reasonable Employment Need (current script on “Anticipatory work” may need to be modified to suit the situation).”[xxx]
  • Complete Purchases/Ownership Change of Existing Canadian Business: When the foreign employee-investor acquires 100% interest of an existing Canadian business, and the LMIA application voluntarily includes documents such as share purchase agreement, notice of articles, central securities register, CRA# shareholding/ownership documents indicating purchase/ownership change has been completed, then these documents would be considered as sufficient proof of the foreign national’s relationship to the business.[xxxi] Other requirements still have to be satisfied though. An Employer Note is required to indicate the change of ownership if the previous owner had previously submitted LMIAs and the previous employer ID must be deactivated.[xxxii]
  • Pending Purchase of Existing Business: When the current owner intends to sell 100% of the Canadian business to the immigrant investor, but completion of purchase/ownership change is contingent on an LMIA and WP then the TFW can be considered owner-operator for an LMIA based on the following such as the intention of the parties especially the TFW. For example, Immigration authorities would consider the stage of completion of the transaction (tentatively signed share purchase agreement, monies in an escrow account), how viable the business is and whether the investor has a plan to hire or retain Canadian workers in a short timeframe. If the parties fail to satisfy the officer on the genuineness of the transaction, then the LMIA application can be refused as technically the foreign national is not owner-operator yet and no recruitment was conducted.  The existing owner could also submit the LMIA application to hire the foreign investor into a specific position in the business pending purchase. The investor can work in that position until the purchase is completed. After the purchase, the new owner-operator will submit a new LMIA to support themselves.[xxxiii]
  • Partial Purchase of Existing Business: When the owner operator has partially purchased a Canadian Business but is still not a 100% owner, the officer will assess who has the largest share in the business to determine if the investor be considered a Principal Owner or Co-owner. Another important consideration is if existing owners/directors will continue to be involved in the operation and management of the business why the foreign national’s involvement is required. Is the transaction genuine or in other words is there reasonable employment need?[xxxiv]

Other Key Considerations[xxxv]

  • In owner-operator LMIA applications, the burden of proof is on the investor to provide information to prove their shareholding/ownership status.
  • For high-wage owner-operator applications, transition plan requirements apply. A transition plan “describes the activities you are agreeing to undertake to recruit, retain and train Canadians and permanent residents and to reduce your reliance on the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.”[xxxvi]
  • For low-wage owner-operator applications, CAP on low wage position requirements apply.[xxxvii]

Benefits of Owner Operator LMIA applications

As mentioned earlier, there are several benefits of applying through an owner-operator LMIA compared to other business immigration streams. As long as the foreign national has a viable business plan and the transaction is genuine, the probability of a positive –owner-operator LMIA application is there. As per the data presented by the Canadian government between the period from April 1, 2015 to March 31, 2016, the results are as follows[xxxviii]:

The highlights are that only 1% out of the total 42,550 LMIAs processed during that period were cancelled/revoked and only 16% of the applications had a negative decision. The processing time for owner-operator LMIA application is short but it varies according to the circumstances. There is no requirement of having a certain total net worth or making any non-guaranteed investment in a Canadian government designated investment fund. Further, owner-operator LMIA applications are also exempt from advertising requirements where the employer intends to employ a TFW has to first advertise the position to Canadian Citizens and Permanent residents.[xxxix]

Path to Permanent Residence

After the ruling of a positive LMIA, a work permit is granted (valid for 1-2 years) and in most cases, the owner would be in a position to apply for a permanent resident visa through the Federal Skilled Express Entry or under the Provincial Nominee Program. From November 19, 2016, the express entry comprehensive ranking system points awarded for job offers (including those based on Owner/Operator LMIAs) have been reduced from 600 points to either 200 points for senior managerial positions, or 50 points.[xl]  The limited points now may strengthen the applicant’s Express Entry application but will not automatically guarantee an “Invitation To Apply” (ITA) under provincial nomination programs for Permanent Residence like before.[xli]


The Owner Operator LMIA stream is a suitable option to facilitate admission to Canada as a foreign worker which can become a path to permanent residency at a later stage.  Although the application and assessment process can be rigorous (as there are specific guidelines on the minimum level of investment required or the relevant business experience that the applicant should demonstrate to be approved), if the project is genuine and a comprehensive business plan is submitted, the issuance of a positive LMIA and work permit to a foreign national is a possibility given the high approval rate of LMIA applications in general. The future looks promising as under Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s (CIC) 2018 Immigration Plan (from now to 2020), about 565,000 newcomers will be admitted through Canada’s economic immigration programs including Express Entry and Provincial Nominee Programs[xlii]

DISCLAIMER: This publication is being offered for informational purposes only by Sean G McKinsley, Managing Partner, Canada Immigration and Visa Services Inc (CIVS).  While CIVS has made every effort to present accurate and reliable information, we hereby disclaim any liability for any errors, omissions or inconsistencies in this publication. Due to the continuing policy and/or program changes, information included in this publication may not be current as of your reading. Please check before using the information contained in this publication. The use of this publication and its contents is voluntary. CIVS or any of the authors of this publication is in no way responsible for your use of the information contained in this publication or the results of that use. All information provided in this publication is for informational purposes only, and as such should not be construed as advice. You should consult the appropriate website, and corresponding legislation in the appropriate area before acting upon any information contained in this publication.  Nothing in this publication should be construed as possessional advice.  This publication features information from many sources and should not be confused with an official reflection of policy and programming.






CIVS and its partners will assist your new business in growing your business’s current sales and maintaining current business by deploying marketing strategies and campaigns. It is undeniable the importance of a business to focus on marketing their product or service effectively to drive sales.


CIVS and its partners will assist your new business in the transition and growth of the operations and sourcing a manager to operate and grow your business in the interim until you are able to work in Canada.


CIVS and its partners ensure that all the required accounting and bookkeeping duties for your business are taken care of until you can work in Canada. CIVS will ensure that your company applies for an obtains the appropriate tax and business numbers to comply with the government of Canada law.


CIVS and its partners work to make sure that your new business complies with all the relevant municipal, provincial, and federal regulations. Examples would include obtaining your municipal business license or provincial health inspections for food service-related businesses.





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For clients who retain us on our Diamond Premium Service Package, we will perform and execute all the tasks and duties required on your behalf. In essence, we will do everything from field to fork for you and your family as long as you are eligible. We will handle the entire business startup or acquisition, growth, and eventual placement of you into working on your company when you arrive in Canada. The only thing we will require of you is:

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2) Transparent and complete honesty in your communication with us, our firm and our partners.

3) On-time payment and sufficient funding of your Canadian business bank account for us to assist you in performing these duties







[i]Felt, Meghan and McInnes, Sarah, “The Nuances of Labour Marketing Impact Assessments (LMIA): 2 Key Exemptions to Minimum Advertising Requirements”, retrieved from (last accessed on July 13, 2018.)


[ii] Ing, Victor, “Owner/Operators Filling the Gap in Business Immigration Programs”, retrieved from (last accessed on July 13, 2018.)


[iii] Mas, Susana, “Millionaire immigrant investor program lures only 7 instead of 60”, CBC News, retrieved from, (last accessed on July 13, 2018.)


[iv] Information retrieved from (last accessed on July 13, 2018.)


[v] Ibid


[vi] Ibid


[vii] Information retrieved from (last accessed on July 13, 2018.)

[viii] Employment and Social Development Canada, “Policy, Temporary Foreign Worker Program”, effective date December, 23, 2016.

[ix] Ibid


[x] Supra note viii and also see, Employment and Social Development Canada, “National TFWP, Q & A”, definition of “Owner-Operator” effective date, August 29, 2016.

[xi] Ibid, also see Employment and Social Development Canada, “Owner-Operator Guidance – TFW in WT”


[xii] Information retrieved from (last accessed on July 13, 2018.)


[xiii] Employment and Social Development Canada, “Owner-Operator Q&A- TFW in WT”, Service Wiki.

[xiv] Employment and Social Development Canada, “National TFWP, Q & A”, definition of “Owner-Operator” effective date, August 29, 2016.

[xv] Information retrieved from (last accessed on July 13, 2018.)


[xvi] Section 203 of Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations regulations, retrieved from, (last accessed on July 13, 2018.)


[xvii] See Section 200, Division 3, Issuance of Work Permits, Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations, retrieved from, (last accessed on July 13, 2018.)


[xviii] Employment and Social Development Canada, “Policy, Temporary Foreign Worker Program”, effective date December, 23, 2016.

[xix] Ibid

[xx] Ibid

[xxi] Ibid

[xxii] Section 203 of Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations, retrieved from, (last accessed on July 13, 2018.)

[xxiii] Ibid

[xxiv] Employment and Social Development Canada, “National TFWP, Q & A”, definition of “Owner-Operator” effective date, August 29, 2016.


[xxv] Ibid


[xxvi] Information retrieved from, (last accessed on July 13, 2018.)


[xxvii] Employment and Social Development Canada, Key Considerations, “Owner-Operator Guidance – TFW in WT” and Employment and Social Development Canada, “Policy, Temporary Foreign Worker Program”, effective date December, 23, 2016.


[xxviii] Employment and Social Development Canada, “Owner-Operator Q&A- TFW in WT”, Service Wiki.


[xxix] Ibid


[xxx] Employment and Social Development Canada, Key Considerations, “Owner-Operator Guidance – TFW in WT”


[xxxi] Ibid

[xxxii] Ibid

[xxxiii] Ibid

[xxxiv] Ibid

[xxxv] Employment and Social Development Canada, Key Considerations, “Owner-Operator Guidance – TFW in WT”

[xxxvi] Information retrieved from, (last accessed on July 13, 2018.) and see Employment and Social Development Canada, Key Considerations, “Owner-Operator Guidance – TFW in WT”

[xxxvii] “Cap on Low wage positions”- and see Employment and Social Development Canada, Key Considerations, “Owner-Operator Guidance – TFW in WT”


[xxxviii] Data retrieved from, (last accessed on July 13, 2018.)

[xxxix] Information retrieved from (last accessed on July 13, 2018.)


[xl] Hardy, Christopher, “Owner/Operator Labour Market Impact Assessment and its importance for Permanent Residence applications in 2017”, retrieved from, (last accessed on July 13, 2018.)

[xli] Ibid

[xlii] Information retrieved from, (last accessed on July 13, 2018.)




















































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