FAQs : Owner Operator LMIA Work Permit
Yes, it is possible to own a business in Canada while being on a tourist visa. However, you will have to meet certain requirements and the laws differ depending on the type of business you buy as well as the province in which it will operate. Our team can assist you in finding a suitable business in Canada and buying an existing business in Canada or establishing your business from scratch.
As a business owner, working in Canada with a valid work permit, it is expected that you will actively manage your business in Canada. Therefore, your presence in Canada is generally required. However, this does not mean that you cannot travel while working in Canada, especially if your business requires extensive traveling outside of Canada.
Under the Owner-Operator Work Permit, as a manager of your business in Canada, you must pay yourself a salary that meets the Canadian median wage standards (around $58/per hour for senior executive roles in Ontario). What this means is that you will be responsible for paying all payroll deductions to the Canadian tax authorities of approximately $3,000 – $4,000 (per month) based on your senior executive salary.
Yes, you can buy a business with a partner or buy shares in an existing business in Canada. However, please keep in mind that only someone who is at least 51% owner of the business can apply for the Owner-Operator LMIA and receive a work permit to manage the Canadian business. The minority partner (if not a resident in Canada) will have to apply for a regular LMIA if he/she wants to relocate to Canada as a business partner as well.
Yes, this is possible, but make sure that you buy at least 51% of shares in the existing company to benefit from the Owner-Operator LMIA program. Also, make sure that the company has been actively engaged in business for at least 12 months.
It is not mandatory to submit a business plan with your application for a work permit. However, we recommend having a business plan if your company in Canada is new or has not been active for the past 12 months.
One of the primary objectives of the Owner-Operator LMIA program is to create job opportunities for Canadian residents and citizens. Therefore, your inability to meet your hiring commitment plans may negatively affect your work permit extensions and/or permanent residence applications in the future. We recommend committing to hiring at least one Canadian employee to stay compliant with the objectives of the program.
Do I have to present a performance report to the Canadian immigration authorities to apply for permanent residency?
There are no performance reports, however, 50% of companies that have received a positive LMIA decision are audited by the IRCC for compliance. Therefore, it is very important to stay compliant with the conditions of your LMIA approval (including salary payment) and keep detailed records.
Also, one of the requirements that owner-operators must meet while applying for permanent residence is the genuineness of the job offer from your Canadian company, since the offer of employment is coming from their own company. To pass the genuineness test, the applicants must demonstrate that their company is actively engaged in business and that the owner of the company is indeed employed at the company in the senior executive role.
No. Your work permit will be limited to your company in Canada, which means that you cannot work for any other company.
There is no legal requirement to be profitable. However, your company must be actively engaged in business, which means it must be offering services or goods to its customers in Canada or abroad. Also, your company must have a physical location (office or warehouse) and employ at least one Canadian employee.
Business owners are generally not required to provide any proof of language skills. However, if they wish to transfer key personnel to Canada under this program, such employees may be required to provide English or French language test results to prove their suitability for the position in Canada.
There is always a possibility of rejection of your permanent residency application due to various reasons, including criminality, medical inadmissibility, failure to meet the language requirements, etc. However, if your business immigration lawyer prepares a strong application package, you should have a good chance of work permit approval by the respective Canadian embassy/consulate.
What is the success rate of the Owner-Operator LMIA program?
We regularly request official statistics from the government of Canada regarding the approval rates for various immigration programs. The latest statistics for 2019 demonstrate the following:
- Owner-Operator LMIA applications: approval rate – 95%
- Work Permit (LMIA-based):
- Approval rate varies, depending on the consulate/embassy handling your case. On average, we see a 70% approval rate. Please contact us to get specific statistics for your country.
- Permanent residence applications (with a job offer): 80%-85%
Unfortunately, we cannot reimburse your money if your work permit application is rejected. We get paid for our work, not for the result. Although we are ambitious and results-oriented, the ultimate decision-maker is the Government of Canada and/or the respective Canadian embassy/consulate. What we do guarantee you is that with our rich professional experience in business immigration matters, we will prepare the strongest application possible designed to meet the criteria required by the IRCC.
When supporting your permanent residence application, your company must guarantee the IRCC that your position will be available to you for at least 1 year after you become a permanent resident of Canada. Although there is no specific limitation on selling your business, the IRCC may interpret your sale of the business as a breach of undertaking by your Canadian business.
In general, all applicants for permanent residence in Canada must possess sufficient language skills as set by the IRCC. However, in exceptional situations when applicants have strong ties to Canada and can demonstrate successful establishment in Canada, there is an opportunity to apply for permanent residency through other immigration programs. The success rate in these cases is usually 60%.
Does your law firm help with company establishment in Canada?
Yes, we assist our clients at every stage of the process starting with company registration, business plan preparation, setting up bank accounts, securing Nominee Canadian Director Services, and handling immigration applications (from work permit to permanent residency to Canadian citizenship) for our clients and their family members. We also provide guidance and assistance with compliance audits and entry interviews (if required) upon arrival in Canada.
As licensed Canadian business immigration lawyers we charge the full retainer amount upfront. The entire amount will be deposited into our trust account and you will be billed once we complete working on your file.
As for discounts, we deem our legal fees as reasonable given the amount of work we put into each file and the quality of service we deliver. All business immigration applications are complex, and our legal fees fairly reflect the value of our work.