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Can I Start a Business in Canada With a Work Permit?

Can I Start a Business in Canada With a Work Permit?

Can I Start a Business in Canada With a Work Permit?

Many foreign nationals are interested in building a business in Canada, but it can be difficult to understand what you can, and cannot do, with a Canadian work permit. Canadian citizens and permanent residents have the right to work in Canada without restriction, and are eligible to work in any field, for any employer. 

In the case of non-residents, a Canadian work permit gives you permission to work in the country.  It is generally employer-specific, meaning that foreign workers can only work for the specific employer and in the occupation the permit was granted for, and for a specific duration (usually up to 2 years).

Starting a business in Canada with a Work Permit

If you are a foreign national who is interested in starting a business in Canada, there are several approaches you can take, depending on your particular qualifications and your long-term immigration goals.

At the provincial level:

Provincial Nominee Program (PNP)

Almost all provinces in Canada have their own Provincial Nominee Program (PNP). Each PNP has its own set of requirements tailored to meet the needs of the labour market in that specific province. 

Most PNPs are also aligned with the Express Entry system, meaning that foreign nationals who are interested in applying may need to create an Express Entry profile. 

With a nomination from a Canadian province, a foreign national can receive 600 additional points toward their CRS score, greatly increasing the likelihood they will receive an invitation to apply for permanent residence, as well as the opportunity to establish themselves and their business within that province.

At the federal level:

The advantage of applying through a federal program is that you may reside anywhere in Canada without requiring approval at the provincial level. 

Applying through the Intra-Company Transferee or the Labour Market Impact Assessment (Owner/Operator) can also set you up for a successful Express Entry application down the road, as you may be eligible to receive up to 250 additional points toward your CRS score.

1. Intra-Company Transferee Program (ICT)

The Intra-Company Transferee business immigration program (ICT) allows you to bring your existing business to the Canadian market by opening a branch, parent company, affiliate, or subsidiary. Securing a work permit through ICT means foreign workers may forego the lengthy LMIA process. 

2. Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA - Owner/Operator) 

The Owner/Operator LMIA allows qualified foreign nationals to come to Canada to establish their own business. This is a simplified LMIA process which allows qualified business owners to secure an LMIA without having to prove that no Canadian citizens or residents can fill the position in question. 

3. Start-Up Visa (SUV)

If your goal is to obtain Canadian permanent residence and eventually citizenship, we recommend the Start-Up Visa Program (SUV). It is currently the only Canadian federal business immigration program directly leading to the Canadian permanent residency without requiring a secondary application process.

As you can see, there are many pathways that foreign nationals may take to obtain a Canadian work permit and establish their business in Canada. 

We strongly recommend working with a qualified immigration lawyer, such as the experts at Desjardins Lawyers, who can recommend the best suitable immigration venue and guide you through the process to make your Canadian immigration dreams a reality. 

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