Canada offers the International Mobility Program, enabling highly skilled foreign workers to engage in temporary work in Canada through programs like the Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) Canada. Under this program, international companies with a presence in Canada can request the relocation of their employees to their Canadian location.
Applying for an Intra-Company Transfer visa streamlines the process for both the company and the employee, eliminating the need for an LMIA (Labour Market Impact Assessment) as it falls under the LMIA-exempt work permit category. Skilled intra-company transferees, qualified for work permits, bring valuable expertise to Canadian businesses, contributing significantly to the country’s economy.
The ICT (Intra-Company Transfer) pathway within the International Mobility Program is a means for eligible foreign business proprietors to relocate their businesses to Canada and obtain a work permit. Through this process, applicants can secure an ICT Work Permit and, eventually, attain permanent residence (PR). Typically, the primary applicant’s spouse and children may also be granted an open work permit and study permit, respectively.
Table of Contents
- Key Aspects of the ICT Program
- Who Qualifies for the ICT Program?
- Criteria for International Mobility Program: Intra-Company Transfer (ICT)
- Investment Amount for Initial Business Expansion into Canada
- How to Secure an Intra-Company Transfer Work Permit Application?
- Canada Intra-Company Transfer Visa Processing Time
- Duration of ICT Work Permits
- Transition from ICT to Permanent Residency in Canada
- Intra-Company Transfer in Canada and International Free Trade Agreements
- Necessary Documents for ICT in Canada
- Intra-Company Transfer Canada: FAQs
Key Aspects of the ICT Program
Foreign nationals seeking a work permit through this program must consider several essential requirements:
Work permits in this program do not necessitate a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).
The applicant’s work in Canada must fall under the categories of “managerial, executive, or involving specialized knowledge” for eligibility within this framework.
Regarding the categories mentioned above, Canada defines roles as “managerial, executive, or involving specialized knowledge” as follows:
Managerial positions are categorized into two types: Senior and Functional.
Senior Managers: Employees overseeing all or part of the enterprise, supervising/control over other managers or professional staff.
Functional Managers: Employees managing a specific function critical to achieving the company’s objectives, although they may not supervise other employees.
Executive roles are those where an employee’s primary responsibilities revolve around managing an entire enterprise or a significant segment of it.
Positions involving specialized knowledge require an advanced level of expertise and proprietary understanding of the enterprise’s products, services, processes, and procedures.
Who Qualifies for the ICT Program?
The intra-company transfer initiative aims to entice well-established companies worldwide to broaden their operations into Canada. There are three categories of individuals who can benefit from this program:
1. Business owners, entrepreneurs, and shareholders of successful companies currently holding executive positions in their company, intending to perform similar roles in Canada.
2. Senior managers and functional managers employed in a foreign company who plan to take up comparable positions in Canada.
3. Key employees possessing advanced specialized knowledge that is rare or unique within the business.
Applicants in these positions must fulfill additional requirements outlined below to secure a work permit through the ICT program.
Criteria for International Mobility Program: Intra-Company Transfer (ICT)
To qualify for a work permit, both the international company and the employee need to fulfill specific requirements.
General Conditions for Intra-Company Transfer to Canada
The subsequent criteria are essential to meet to be eligible for an Intra-Company Transfer Visa in Canada:
- Currently employed by an international company intending entry into Canada within a parent, subsidiary, branch, or affiliate of that company.
- Transferring to a company with a qualifying relationship (as detailed below) and engaging in employment at a legitimate and continuous establishment of said company.
- Relocating to a position in an executive, senior managerial, or specialized knowledge capacity.
- Maintaining continuous employment (validated through payroll or similar records) with the company planning the transfer outside Canada in an equivalent full-time role for a minimum of one year within the three-year period immediately preceding the initial application.
- Intending to visit Canada temporarily.
- Compliance with all immigration prerequisites for temporary entry.
Company Prerequisites for Intra-Company Transfer
- Primarily, the company should secure physical premises for the Canadian operation, particularly in cases involving specialized knowledge. Nevertheless, in certain scenarios for senior managers or executives, it may be acceptable that the new start-up’s address is not yet secured. For instance, the company could utilize its counsel’s address until the executive secures a premise through purchase or lease.
- The company must present viable plans for staffing the new operation.
- Financial capability is essential for the company to commence business in Canada and remunerate its employees.
- Other two criteria are discussed in detail below.
Managerial Capacity Criteria
To satisfy the description of managerial capacity, a position must encompass some or all of the subsequent qualifications:
- Directs the organization, a department, section, function, or component of the organization.
- Oversees and manages the work of other managerial, professional, or supervisory employees, or supervises a critical function within the organization, department, or section.
- Possesses the authority to make personnel decisions, including hiring, termination, and making recommendations for other personnel actions like promotions and leaves. If no direct supervision of other employees exists, the role operates at a senior level within the organization’s hierarchy or concerning the managed function.
- Exercises discretion over the day-to-day operations of the task or function over which the employee holds authority.
Specialized Knowledge Requirements
To meet the specialized knowledge criteria, a position should necessitate both proprietary knowledge and advanced expertise. As per the NAFTA definition, these entail:
Proprietary Knowledge: Company-specific expertise linked to a company’s products or services that haven’t been disclosed to enable other entities to replicate the product or service.
Advanced Expertise: Specialized knowledge acquired through substantial (the longer the experience, the more likely it’s “specialized”) and recent (within the last 5 years) involvement with the organization, significantly contributing to the employer’s productivity.
Eligibility of ICT for Startup Enterprises
Apart from the standard eligibility prerequisites for established companies, the ICT program imposes distinct criteria for foreign companies intending to relocate key employees to establish a new business in Canada.
Successful ICT applicants for startups receive a one-year temporary work permit, extendable upon maintaining a qualifying relationship with a Canadian entity and actively conducting business within the country. Essential staffing of the new Canadian operations is also required.
ICT work permits for startup companies are granted to those demonstrating the ability to establish themselves in Canada. Demonstrating this capability involves:
- Providing evidence of financial capacity to support startup expenses, including employee compensation.
- Developing a comprehensive business plan detailing staffing strategies and business operations in Canada.
- Presenting evidence of securing a physical location (or actively in the process of doing so) for the organizational setup.
- Demonstrating that the company will be sufficiently sizable to support the functions of the transferred executives and/or managers in Canada.
- Evidencing the anticipation of conducting business and ensuring that Canadian management oversees the work conducted within the country.
For the initial expansion of a foreign company to Canada, immigration officers will also examine the following:
- Is there a robust business plan indicating that Canadian operations will be financially viable, cover costs, and remunerate employees adequately?
- Will this expansion result in job creation for Canadians?
- Will the company necessitate an executive or manager in Canada?
Therefore, for the first ICT application in Canada, companies need to demonstrate that expanding to Canada is a viable business decision and that the newly established Canadian operations are likely to succeed and grow sufficiently to employ local staff. Thus, presenting a strong business case and justifying the rationale for expansion is crucial, in addition to meeting the basic ICT application criteria.
Investment Amount for Initial Business Expansion into Canada
The Canadian government does not specify minimum investment amounts for companies expanding to Canada. However, companies need to be financially sound and have sufficient capital to support their new operations in Canada and hire local talent.
Based on experience, companies should show solid gross sales surpassing $250,000 annually and have access to liquid funds of at least $100,000 to cover the first year’s operational costs. Additionally, applicants should demonstrate access to further funds or assets to support the Canadian business if it doesn’t become self-sufficient by the end of the first year.
How to Secure an Intra-Company Transfer Work Permit Application?
Prior to applying for any immigration program in Canada, it is essential for applicants to ensure that they meet the eligibility requirements of the specific program. A strategic approach in presenting their case to Canadian immigration authorities is crucial. The following steps outline the process for preparing an effective application:
For first-time ICT applications, follow these steps:
Step 1: Register your company in Canada, establishing it as a parent, subsidiary, or affiliate of your home company.
Step 2: Develop a comprehensive business plan that details proposed business activities, market research, and strategies for running a profitable operation in Canada. Include a hiring plan and cash flow projections aligned with industry standards for 2-3 years.
Step 3: Gather all necessary documents (e.g., bank statements, articles of incorporation, proof of investment funds, etc.) and prepare the work permit application.
Step 4: Submit your work permit application and await the decision.
It’s important to recognize that the application process can differ significantly based on the applicant’s nationality. Certain countries benefit from agreements with Canada, facilitating a more streamlined immigration process under the ICT for their citizens.
For applicants from visa-exempt countries, it might be feasible to apply for an ICT Work Permit directly at the port of entry (POE).
Canada Intra Company Transfer Visa Processing Time
Typically, standard processing times are applicable to Intra-Company Transfer Work Permit (ICT WP) applications, and these timelines can be verified on the IRCC’s website corresponding to your country of application.
Duration of ICT Work Permits
ICT work permits are commonly granted for a period ranging from 1 to 2 years, with a specific one-year validity for those employed by start-up companies. Citizens from certain visa-exempt countries might benefit from an extended 3-year work permit. The initial permit could be extended for an additional 2 to 3 years, resulting in a maximum permit duration of up to 5 years for specialized knowledge workers and 7 years for executives and managers.
However, immigration officers might limit work permits to one year for individuals employed by newly established companies in Canada. Citizens from visa-exempt countries such as the United States, Australia, the UK, the EU, and Japan, who benefit from Free Trade Agreements, may secure a 3-year ICT work permit.
Under this program, a work permit can be obtained through a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) exemption (C12). However, in some cases, an LMIA may still be required.
Transition from ICT to Permanent Residency in Canada
After completing one year of full-time employment with the Canadian company, foreign nationals become eligible to apply for permanent residency through the Express Entry program. Depending on the job role, they may qualify for an additional 50 or 200 points for an arranged employment (job offer) from their Canadian business.
This usually leads to a substantial increase in their Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score, potentially resulting in selection under the Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) category of the Express Entry stream and an invitation to apply for permanent residency from Canadian immigration authorities.
Intra-Company Transfer in Canada and International Free Trade Agreements
Several nations benefit from international agreements with Canada, providing specific advantages for Treaty ICT applications. Nationals from countries like the United States (CUSMA), Mexico (CUSMA), Chile, Colombia, Peru, Korea, the European Union (CETA), Australia (CPTPP), Japan (CPTPP), Mexico (CPTPP), and New Zealand (CPTPP) can utilize Treaty ICT regulations.
Necessary Documents for ICT in Canada
The documents required encompass:
- Confirmation of the foreign national’s current employment with a multinational enterprise outside Canada, intending to work within a parent, subsidiary, branch, or affiliate of that enterprise in Canada.
- Verification of the foreign national’s continuous employment (via payroll or contract) by the enterprise outside Canada, in a similar full-time capacity for at least one year within the preceding three-year period from the initial application date.
- Details regarding the applicant’s role in either an executive or managerial position or one involving specialized knowledge (such as position, title, organizational standing, and job description).
- For positions requiring “specialized knowledge,” evidence of the individual’s expertise and a demonstration that the Canadian role necessitates such knowledge.
- Information delineating the Canadian position, including the title, role within the organization, and job responsibilities.
- Specification of the intended duration of stay.
- Explanation of the relationship between the Canadian enterprise and the foreign enterprise (tangible proof may be requested by the officer to establish the connection between the Canadian and foreign organizations engaged in the transfer).
In conclusion, the Intra-Company Transfer program in Canada offers a pathway for skilled foreign workers, emphasizing managerial, executive, or specialized roles. The program exempts LMIA requirements, promoting the transfer of expertise, enhancing businesses, and contributing to Canada’s economic growth through diverse international talent.
Intra Company Transfer Canada: FAQs
Q. What is the Intra-Company Transfer Visa?
A. The Intra-Company Transfer Visa permits highly skilled foreign workers to temporarily work in Canada under a company that possesses a business branch in the country.
Q. How long is the initial Intra-Company Transferee work permit valid for, and can it be renewed before its expiry?
A. The initial work permit acquired through the Canada ICT program is typically granted for 1 year. In specific cases, the IRCC may issue a 2-year work permit if the Canadian company is a subsidiary of the established foreign company.
The Canadian ICT work permit can be renewed multiple times, up to 2-3 years each time and a total of up to 7 years, provided all program requirements are met, including having a Canadian office, employing Canadian PRs or citizens, and actively conducting business in both Canada and the home country.
Q. Can I work for another company while holding a work permit as an intra-company transferee in Canada?
A. No, the work permit allows you to work solely for your Canadian company, although your company can sell goods and services in Canada and beyond.
Q. Who is eligible for intra-company transfer to Canada?
A. General Employee Requirements are: The employee must apply to work in Canada at an executive, senior managerial, or specialized knowledge position. They must have been employed full-time with the company for at least 1 year within the past 3 years.
Q. Do I need to provide English/French language test results to get a work permit under the Intra-Company Transfer program?
A. Generally, business owners aren’t required to provide language proficiency proof. However, key personnel transferred to Canada may need to present English or French language test results to demonstrate suitability for their position in Canada.