Immigration Opportunities for Foreign Business Owners & Entrepreneurs
Often foreign business owners and entrepreneurs who want to immigrate to Canada look to Provincial Nominee Program Business programs or the Federal Start-up Visa without exploring other options for working or living in Canada. There are over 60 immigration programs available to immigrate to Canada. It’s not just the two programs mentioned above that are open to business owners and entrepreneurs.
Here are three other pathways that are worth exploring as a foreign business owner and entrepreneur: Intra-Company Transferee Program; Intra-Company Transferee Program – Start-up; Study Permit, Student/Graduate Work Permits and Spousal Work Permits
Companies that are located in Countries that have international agreements with Canada, including North America Free Trade Agreement or those countries part of the World Trade Organization, can participate in the intra-company transferee program. The foreign company must be established and be conducting business at an international level. They must also be in a working relationship with an established Canadian parent, affiliate, subsidiary or branch company. If this relationship exists, the company can transfer certain workers to work temporarily in the Canadian company. Workers who qualify must be in a senior management, executive or specialized knowledge position.
As an intra-company transferee, you can apply for a work permit without a Labour Market Opinion (LMO). In most cases when a Canadian company wants to hire a foreign national, it must apply for an LMO from Service Canada and demonstrate it cannot find a permanent resident or Canadian for the position. Service Canada then issues a positive LMO, which is submitted along with a work permit application by the foreign national. This can take weeks or months to obtain and a positive LMO is not guaranteed.
As an intra-company transferee, a work permit can be valid for up to 5 years for executives and senior managers, or 7 years for specialized knowledge workers.
For more information and to determine if your business qualifies, please contact us.
Intra-Company Transferee Start-up
A foreign company can expand to Canada under the Intra-Company Transferee – Start Up program. These foreign companies send a senior executive, manager or specialized knowledge worker to temporarily help establish or expand its Canadian branch or subsidiary.
This type of application requires the foreign company to prove they have the ability for their company to become established in Canada. Documents include proof of financial means to support the start-up, business plan for staffing and doing business in Canada, and resume and qualifications of staff member being transferred. They may also need prove that a physical location has been secured or will soon be secured.
Staff members that are being transferred must be in an Executive, Managerial role or have specialized knowledge that is essential to the business start-up.
For more information and to determine if your business qualifies, please contact us.
Study Permit, Student/Graduate Work Permits and Spousal Work Permits
When studying in Canada, there are options for the student and the spouse to obtain work permits, and potentially permanent residency in the future.
As a student, a foreign national can get an off-campus work permit to work part-time while studying, including starting their own business. Upon graduation, the student may qualify for an open post-graduate work permit, where they can continue building their business.
The spouse of the student can also apply for an open work permit while the student is in school and after graduation, when they have their post-graduate work permit.
Studying may work really well for a couple, where one spouse wants to study and the other can start the business on a spousal work permit. Eventually both spouses have work permits, which create opportunities to immigrate.
The North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between Canada, United States (US) and Mexico liberalizes and protects trade among these three countries. In meeting the trade objectives, NAFTA allows for the temporary entry of selected professionals and investors of American, Mexican and Canadian citizenship to work and engage in business across borders more freely than workers from other countries. It is a reciprocal agreement, and thus allows Mexican and US citizens to work in Canada and for Canadians to work in Mexico and the US.
If you are from Mexico or the US and have an interest in working, trading or investing in Canada, you may qualify under NAFTA for temporary entry or a temporary work permit. NAFTA provides great opportunities for Mexican and US professionals to temporarily work or do business in Canada with ease. It is important to understand each category and the requirements before assuming you qualify. What is outlined here is only a brief overview of the program. For more information, visitwww.cic.gc.ca or contact your local Canadian consulate or embassy.
NAFTA is open to professionals that fall under four categories:
Investors and traders
Intra-Company Transferees (ICT)
This category is quite common between the US and Canada, especially among major American companies that have subsidiaries or branches in Canada. As an intra-company transferee, you can apply for a work permit without a Labour Market Opinion (LMO). In most cases when a Canadian company wants to hire a foreign national, it must apply for an LMO from Service Canada and demonstrate it cannot find a permanent resident or Canadian for the position. Service Canada then issues a positive LMO, which is submitted along with a work permit application by the foreign national. This can take weeks or months to obtain and a positive LMO is not guaranteed.
In addition, as an ICT, a work permit can be valid for up to 5 years for executives and senior managers, or 7 years for specialized knowledge workers. To qualify, the core requirements are:
Employment with US or Mexican company that has a branch, subsidiary, parent or affiliate company in Canada,
Work for at least 1 year of the last 3 years with the foreign company,
Maintain an executive or senior management position, or be considered a specialized knowledge worker with essential and unique skills,
Hold an offer for a position with the Canadian branch, subsidiary, parent or affiliate similar to the role in the related foreign company.
Canadian companies can be start-ups or expansions of a foreign company. These foreign companies send a senior or skilled person to help establish or expand the Canadian branch or subsidiary.
Professionals are those that have pre-arranged employment with a Canadian company and are in one of the 60 occupations listed under the NAFTA agreement, which includes accountants, architects, land surveyors, many science-related professions, and even post-secondary instructors. They do not require an LMO, but a work permit along with proof of education and experience in that field.
For a list of NAFTA professionals, visit the NAFTA Secretariat website.
Business visitors come to Canada to conduct business with an international scope, involving activities like research and design, distribution, marketing and sales. Their business is predominantly outside of Canada and they have no intention to enter the Canadian labour market. As a result, they do not have to obtain a work permit, however they do need to declare their status as a business visitor upon entering Canada.
Traders can apply for a temporary work permit and work in Canada to facilitate the trade of goods and services between Canada and their home country. The initial work permit is granted for up to one year, but can be extended for a duration of two years.
Traders must be employed by a Mexican or US company in an executive or supervisor role, or have essential skills. Over 50% of total volume of trade by the company must be between Canada and the US or Mexico. Furthermore, the trading must be considered substantial. ‘Substantial Trade’ is determined by the volume and monetary value of the trade.
Investors can apply for a temporary work permit to come to Canada and invest, develop and direct an enterprise. The person seeking entry should usually be in an executive or supervisory role with the foreign company. While there here is no minimum dollar amount to invest, the investment must be considered substantial. To determine if an investment is substantial, officers are directed to conduct a ‘proportionality test’, which is based on the amount invested vs. the total value of the company or the amount deemed necessary to establish the type of business. For example, an investment of $50,000 for a small business with few operating costs may be deemed substantial; or a $1 million investment for a plant valued at $8 million may qualify.
Like the trader category, the initial work permit is granted for up to one year, but can be extended for a duration of two years.
The advantages of working under NAFTA are:
Many professional workers are exempt from needing a LMO.
Business visitors are not required to apply for a work permit.
It allows for quick processing of professionals and intra-company transferees who need a work permit, since applicants can apply and be issued a work permit by an immigration officer at the Canadian border upon entering the count
Bell Alliance Global Immigration Services Inc. (BA Global) andEVG Export Ventures Group Inc. (EVG) join forces to connect BC businesses and foreign investors under the BC Provincial Nominee Program
British Columbia (BC) Provincial Nominee Program has received well deserved attention for its innovative business investment and immigration opportunities targeting foreign entrepreneurs and investors wanting to live and work in BC. As the province’s aging workforce prepares for retirement and local entrepreneurs seek expertise and capital to grow successfully, EVG and BA Global will provide a much needed bridge to connect foreigners with these businesses by providing business brokerage services to BC businesses and immigration services and business planning to foreigners.
There has been significant economic gain from the BC PNP programs since its inception in 2001. The Strategic Occupation stream helps employers fill labour shortages by nominating skilled workers, international graduates and entry level, semi-skilled workers for permanent residency. The Businessstream targets entrepreneurs and investors with the required skills and experience to manage a business in BC’s key industries. In the Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation’s 2011 evaluation report, 203 entrepreneurs that were nominated through the BC PNP Business stream have invested over $423 million into BC’s economy and created over 1000 jobs between 2005 and 2010. Regions across BC have benefited, as over 50% of investments made and jobs created have been outside of the Lower Mainland area (Grant Thornton, 2011).
The challenge BC businesses face, especially those in rural areas, is finding people to buy or invest into their company. The difficulty is even greater for foreigners abroad, who often have little knowledge of the opportunities available. Richard Bell, BA Global’s director and founder of Bell Alliance Lawyers & Notaries Public, echoes this challenge. “I have practiced real estate and corporate law for several years. The number of business owners seeking advice on their exit strategy, while not shutting their business down, has grown significantly in the last few years.”