Doing Business in Canada: An Intra-Company work permit can allow non-residents to expand their business to Canada

Last updated: 16 October 2020

For individuals interested in bringing their current business to Canada, there are new guidelines that will help them to accomplish this goal.In November 2009, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) redefined the way for businesses and individuals to get “Intra-Company Transfer” Work Permits.

An “Intra-Company Transfer” Work Permit allows an executive, senior manager, or other worker (with specialized knowledge) to work in Canada for the Canadian part of an international company without getting a Labour Market Opinion. (A Labour Market Opinion is a document needed for most Canadian Work Permits. This document can take from 2 to 3 months to obtain, sometimes longer.)

The new guidelines specifically address foreign companies that are forming a “start-up” company in Canada. In order to be successful with this type of application, some very specific requirements must now be met.

“Intra-Company Transfer” applications for start-up companies require a complete business plan. In order to receive the Work Permit, the foreign business must show realistic plans to staff a physical office in Canada and must prove that they have the financial means to do so.

Initial Work Permits for start-up companies are issued for just one year. To receive a Work Permit extension, the start-up company in Canada must show that it has successfully staffed the new office and that the Canadian company has continuously been engaged in providing goods or services for that year.

In addition to this, all of the former requirements still apply: the Canadian company must have a qualifying relationship with the foreign company; both companies must remain in operation during the Work Permit’s validity; the worker must have been employed full-time with the foreign company for at least one year in a similar position within the last three years.

Even with the new guidelines, “Intra-Company Transfer” Work Permits remain an excellent way to bring new businesses to Canada. They also provide great flexibility to allow the worker to work for the Canadian company without fully re-locating to Canada, if desired.