Work Permits for Business

Work Permits for Business

There are many options for businesspeople seeking work in Canada. Business owners and managers can obtain a Work Permit to establish a new enterprise here while a Canadian company can secure a Work Permit for foreign personnel they need.

Canadian interests: Significant benefit C10

Certain types of workers may be considered “beneficial to Canada” and so do not require an HRSDC labour market opinion, or “confirmation” before receiving a work permit. In deciding, officers look at the applicant’s impact on the Canadian labour market and economy. They also consider the social, cultural or economic benefits to Canada of issuing you the Work Permit. For instance, they weigh the social/cultural benefit of admitting someone of international renown– is this person’s presence in Canada crucial to a high-profile event, or do circumstances create urgency to that person’s entry?

Work Permits for Entrepreneurs approved for Permanent Residence, but visa not issued (C11) If a permanent resident applicant meets the definition of “entrepreneur” or “self-employed” and has been selected (approved), he/she may be issued a Work Permit if there are compelling and urgent reasons to admit that person before processing is complete. Applicants must prove that their admission to Canada–to establish or operate their business–would generate significant economic, social and cultural benefits/opportunities for Canadians.

Work Permits for Provincial Nominees and Quebec Special considerations apply for provincial government nominees (PNP) for permanent residence. Namely, some provinces want their nominees to start implementing their business plan before the actual nomination so that the nominee can demonstrate the sincerity of their intentions. These Work Permits are issued for up to two (2) years.

Work Permits for the Long-Term Self-Employed Applicants requesting renewals may be asked to provide:

  • Registration of their business as a legal entity in Canada;
  • Proof that the profits of the business remain predominantly in Canada or other significant benefits have accrued to Canada;
  • Proof that all appropriate federal, provincial and local tax returns have been filed.

Sole or partial ownership

Work Permits for entrepreneurs are usually considered only when the applicant controls at least 50% of the business. If there are multiple owners, generally only one owner would be eligible for a Work Permit. The main concerns are: whether the work will likely create a viable business benefitting Canadian workers or provide economic stimulus; and whether the applicant has a particular background or skill set that’ll improve the viability of the business?

Canadian Interests: Significant benefit—intra-company transferees

The intra-company category was created to permit international companies to temporarily transfer qualified employees to Canada in order to improve management effectiveness, expand Canadian exports, and enhance the competitiveness of Canadian entities in overseas markets. These Work Permits are LMO-exempt. Citizens of the US, Mexico (NAFTA), Chile (CCFTA) and GATS (the 150 member-countries of the World Trade Organization) are eligible.

Qualifying Business relationship: Parent, subsidiary, branch, or affiliate of a multi-national company.

Qualifying Positions: Executive, Senior Managerial, or Specialized Knowledge capacity

Does not include junior management, supervisors, or foremen.

Requirements: You have been employed by the company outside Canada in a similar full-time position for one year in the previous three before coming to Canada.

North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)

The NAFTA seeks to liberalize trade between the United States, Mexico and Canada. It removes the need for a labour market opinion (confirmation) for all businesspersons covered by the Agreement. For professionals and intra-company transferees, it expedites the application process by permitting the issuance of a Work Permit at the POE. NAFTA is restricted to citizens of the United States, Mexico and Canada.

Categories of business persons included under the NAFTA Businesspersons included in Chapter 16 of the NAFTA are grouped as follows:

  • Business visitors: Engage in international business activities related to research and design; growth, manufacture and production; marketing; sales; and distribution. After-sales service are admitted for business purposes without the need for a work permit.

  • Professionals: Businesspersons who enter to provide pre-arranged professional services. The appendix of NAFTA lists more than 60 occupations covered by the Agreement. The Professionals category does not allow self-employment in Canada.

  • Intra-company transferees: Managers, executives, or specialized knowledge workers being transferred to the Canadian enterprise, parent, branch, subsidiary, or affiliate, to provide services in the same capacity.

  • Traders and investors: Carry on substantial trade in goods or services with the US, or Mexico and Canada, or have committed (or in the process of committing) a substantial amount of capital in Canada. Traders and investors must be employed in a supervisory or executive capacity or one that involves essential skills. Traders and investors are not subject to the confirmation process but require a Work Permit for which they must apply at a visa office before departing for Canada.

The initial Work Permit can have a maximum duration of one year. Extensions should be granted for a duration of two (2) years. Applications should be submitted at a visa office.

Because of reciprocal treatment for Canadians, Mexican citizens who are granted visitor status can apply for investor status from within Canada.

The individual or corporate persons who own at least 50% interest (directly or by stock) in the entity established in Canada must hold American or Mexican citizenship.

Note: This criterion does not apply to an employee of an investor.

“Develop and direct“ means that the applicant should have controlling interest in the enterprise. An interest of 50% or less usually will mean that the applicant does not have requisite control, particularly in smaller enterprises.

Teachers under NAFTA Canadian, American and Mexican teachers can now obtain a document authorizing employment to undertake a temporary appointment at a university, college, or seminary in one of the other countries simply by presenting at the POE a letter from the employer describing the temporary appointment.

NAFTA restricted to Canadian, American and Mexican citizens? Yes. Persons who are not citizens but have immigration status as a legal permanent resident of the other countries do not have access to facilitated entry under the NAFTA. They do, however, continue to have access to each country through existing general or universal provisions governing the entry of temporary foreign workers.

General Agreement on Trade in Service (GATS)

Like NAFTA, the temporary entry of businesspersons under GATS can be facilitated without the need for HRSDC confirmation. There are three categories: Business visitors, Intra-company transferees and Professionals.

A GATS Professional is a person who seeks to engage, as part of a services contract obtained by a company in another member nation, in an activity at a professional level in a profession set out below, provided that the person possesses the necessary academic credentials and professional qualifications, which have been duly recognized, where appropriate, by the professional association in Canada. The Professionals category facilitates the short-term entry of a limited list of professionals employed by service providers of Member nations, in those service sectors to which Canada has made commitments.


Occupations covered

  • Group 1: Engineers, Agrologists, Architects, Forestry professionals, Geomatics professionals and Land surveyors.
  • Group 2: Foreign legal consultants, Urban planners and Senior computer specialists.

Validity period The time limit imposed is a maximum three months or 90 consecutive days within a twelve-month period.

Employment The applicant must be seeking entry pursuant to a signed contract between the foreign service provider and a Canadian service consumer, and must work in one of the service sectors listed. Credentials Applicants must have their academic credentials and professional qualifications recognized by the professional association in Canada before entry can be granted and must have been granted a licence (where applicable).


  • Citizenship of a Member nation, or the right of permanent residence in Australia or New Zealand.
  • Deliver a service pursuant to a signed contract between a Canadian service consumer and a service provider of a WTO member nation. In the case of foreign legal consultants, urban planners and senior computer specialists, the foreign service provider must not have a commercial presence in Canada;
  • Possess professional qualifications in an occupation identified in the chart above.
  • Possess qualifications that have been recognized, where appropriate, by the professional association in Canada.
  • Comply with existing immigration requirements for temporary entry, including TRV requirements.
  • In the case of foreign legal consultants, urban planners and senior computer specialists, the employer in Canada must be engaged in substantive business.
  • In the case of senior computer specialists, a limit of ten entrants per project has been imposed.
  • Entry is for a period of 90 days.

The Professional may or may not be remunerated in Canada.