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Canada Owner Operator Program for Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneur And Self Employed
A pathway for foreign businesspersons, entrepreneurs and self-employed people to enter Canada as temporary work permit holders, after establishing a new business in Canada or purchasing majority share in an existing profitable Canadian business. By pursuing this Canada business immigration program, business owners can eventually attain permanent residence and citizenship through a range of pathways, such as the Express Entry System or Provincial Nominee Programs.

Business Owners

  • The Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) is a time-consuming process that requires Canadian employers to advertise job vacancies, and justify hiring a foreign national by proving that no local Canadians are available to fill the vacancy. Business owners applying for a work permit can avail certain exemptions from the LMIA requirement, since they will be working for themselves in Canada. This leads to a shorter waiting period and more streamlined application process.
  • Relocate to any area within Canada, as per preference and business interest.
  • No minimum investment fund requirement.
  • No quota on the number of work permits that can be issued annually.
  • No competitive Expression of Interest system, unlike other federal and provincial business immigration programs.
  • Additional points under the Comprehensive Ranking System for those who apply for permanent residence in Canada through the Express Entry System.
  • Spouse and children (above 5 years of age) of the businessperson can also enter Canada by applying for a work and study permit, respectively.
  • Health insurance funded by the provincial government.

 Application Process

Step 1: Business Incorporation

The applicant must finalize the proposed business activity, and incorporate the company. The applicant can also visit Canada for finalizing the business, but this is not mandatory.

Step 2: Business Plan

The applicant must prepare a complete business plan, and a Labor Market Impact Assessment application.

Step 3: Application

Once the LMIA is approved, the candidate can apply for a Canada work permit as a temporary foreign worker, and travel to Canada to commence their business activities. The work permit is valid for 12 or 24 months. During this period, they can apply for permanent residence.

 Eligibility Requirements

For business immigration to Canada under this pathway, candidates must meet the following conditions:

  • The applicant must have the financial capacity to either purchase at least 50.1% of the total shares in an existing Canadian business, or establish a new business in Canada.
  • The applicant should have previously established and operated a business in their home country.
  • The applicant must showcase a genuine intention to actively partake in the day-to-day management of the business in Canada.
  • It must be proved, through official documentation, that the applicant has controlling share in the business and cannot be removed from the position they hold in the business. Controlling share implies that the applicant is the sole proprietor or the sole voting shareholder or holds at least 50.1% of the total shares.
  • The applicant must submit a business plan including financial projections, investments and planning.
  • The business must generate employment for at least one Canadian citizen or permanent resident.
  • The business must contribute significantly to the economic, social, or cultural benefit of Canada.
  • The candidate will also have to display sufficient English or French language skills.

Note: In order to avail LMIA exemption, those establishing a new business in Canada must be actively engaged in that business before applying for a work permit

Processing Time And Fees

The Canada work permit fee is $CAN 155 per person. This includes the fees for permit extension.

Processing Time

The LMIA approval procedure requires two to three months, while the Canada work permit processing time is less than three months. Subsequently, the permanent residence process may take up to 12 months.

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