There is a special type of work permit for business owners who are looking establish their business in Canada or purchasing an existing one called the Owner/Operator work permit.
This category of work permit allows business owners to apply for an advertising-exempt Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). The purpose of the LMIA is to prove that the employer was unable to fill the position with a Canadian citizen or permanent resident and therefore had to hire a foreign worker, which is done by advertising the position. The process entails advertising the role on three (3) different channels, interviewing candidates, and ensuring that recruitment effort took place and many Canadians were considered before they looked to foreign nationals.
However, if business owners had to go through the same lengthy process, they would be deterred from considering Canada as a worthwhile option to invest in and look elsewhere. As such, the process has been simplified for them in order make the transition as seamless as possible.
To qualify as an owner/operator, the foreign national must establish one of the following:
- Demonstrate you have controlling interest in the business
- Be a sole proprietor
- Be a majority shareholder (holding at least 50.1% of shares)
- Providing an official document confirming they hold majority interest
- Create a business plan detailing how you plan to fund your business and either create or maintain employment. Your plan must be detailed, contain a financial plan, and prove to the Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) that you have thought through every aspect and are prepared to set up your business
- You must be actively involved in the business, in its day-to-day activities and its management. This must not be a passive investment
- Your business plan must show that you intend to hire at least one Canadian citizen or permanent resident ideally in the first year of business
Once you are approved and receive a positive Owner/Operator LMIA, you may then apply for a Canadian work permit, which is valid for 1-2 years. Afterward, you will be able to apply for permanent residence through the Federal Express Entry system.
The Owner/Operator LMIA stream is a great option for foreign nationals to come to Canada and gain permanent residence status. If your plan is genuine and comprehensive, then the possibility of getting the LMIA approved is quite high. There is no requirement or condition to have a specific net worth or investment in order to apply and you are exempt from the rigorous process of the advertising requirement as part of the LMIA application.