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Owner-Operator Work Permit | dRN Law LLP

Owner-Operator Work Permits

Foreign nationals wishing to come to Canada to operate a business can apply for a work permit under the Entrepreneurs/Self-employed category. Frequently, this category is referred as the “Owner-Operator work permit”.

There are two types of Owner-Operator work permits:

  1. Owner-Operator work permit based on a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA)
  2. Owner-Operator work permit under the International Mobility Program

 

Owner-Operator Work Permit Based on a Labour Market Impact Assessment

To qualify for an Owner-Operator work permit based on a LMIA, a foreign national must demonstrate that they:

  • Own at least 50% of the business and hold a position where they cannot be terminated;
  • Will have a wage that is equal or greater than the median wage for the position;
  • Will operate a business that will result in the creation or retention of employment opportunities for Canadians or permanent residents, or that it will provide the transfer of skills or knowledge to Canadians or permanent residents;
  • Have a viable business plan and have taken measures to put their business plan in place – such as financing, leasing office space, and obtaining a business number with Canada Revenue Agency
  • Have a skill set or experience that will improve the feasibility of the business; and
  • Will hire at least one Canadian or permanent resident in the first year of operating or opening the business in Canada.

Unlike most LMIA categories, there are no advertisement or recruitment requirements for the Owner-Operator LMIA.

An additional benefit of the Owner-Operator work permit based on a LMIA is that a foreign national can gain additional points under the Express Entry Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) matrix. A foreign national who holds an Owner-Operator work permit based on a LMIA in a senior manager position (NOC 00) can gain 200 additional points. In most cases, gaining these additional 200 points will ensure that a foreign national will be selected from the Express Entry pool of candidates.

 

Owner-Operator Work Permit Under the International Mobility Program

To qualify for an Owner-Operator work permit under the International Mobility Program, a foreign national must demonstrate that they:

  • To qualify for an Owner-Operator work permit under the International Mobility Program, a foreign national must demonstrate that they:Own at least 50% of the business;
  • Will operate a business that will generate significant economic, social or cultural benefits for Canada, or will provide opportunities for Canadians or permanent residents, such as employment or a unique service;
  • Have a viable business opportunity that will benefit Canada and the Canadian population;
  • Have a skill set or experience that will improve the feasibility of the business;
  • Have taken measures to put their business plan in place – such as financing, leasing office space, and obtaining a business number with Canada Revenue Agency; and
  • Have filed an Offer of Employer (Employer Compliance) application with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (Immigration Canada).

 

Other Considerations 

If a foreign national owns less than 50% of the company, it is recommended that they obtain a LMIA as an employee of the company. In addition, if there are multiple owners of the business, only one owner will be allowed to obtain an Owner-Operator work permit. 

A foreign national applying for an Owner-Operator work permit can have the dual intent of coming to Canada for a temporary basis (to operate a business), as well as to eventually immigrate to Canada and become a permanent resident.  If a foreign national does have this dual intent, they will have to demonstrate to the officer reviewing the work permit application that they are willing to leave Canada at the end of their temporary stay, if required to do so.