Owner / Operator Program

1 Program Overview:

With the passing of Bill C-31 on June 19, 2014, the Federal Government of Canada terminated the Immigrant Investors (IIP) and Entrepreneurs (EN) program, which is a setback for foreign investors who choose to seek Canadian permanent residence through their capital investment in Canada; however, the Owner/Operator program may be an ideal alternative for them. This pathway is designed to attract business people who wish to own and operate their own businesses in Canada that lead to job retention, employment opportunities, and other economic benefits for Canada.

This pathway to Canada is 2-staged beginning with application of a temporary work permit. Once admitted on an Owner-Operator LMIA work permit, successful candidates can at a later stage apply for permanent residence to Canada under a provincial nominee program or as a federal skilled worker under Express Entry system.

Although it is not a direct path to obtaining Canadian permanent residence, application for a work permit can be approved relatively quickly so that the applicants and their family members can come to Canada to live together and settle down first before applying for permanent residence.  The program has no set requirements on minimum investment, business scale, language ability, or management experience but applicants need to prove their they have majority ownership of the Canadian business and that they will be actively involved in the day-to-day operations from within Canada. It's important for the applicants to satisfy IRCC that they have the related experience, kills, fund, and intent to successfully manage the business and bring long-term economic benefits for Canadians.

2 Minimum Requirements:

  • Intent to operate or purchase an existing business in Canada with more than 50% ownership
  • Actively engaging in the day-to-day operations
  • Highest position in the company that cannot be dismissed
  • Creation or retention of jobs for Canadian citizens or permanent residents

3 Eligibility Requirements:

  • Complete or pending purchase of an existing Canadian business or plan to start a new business, which must own a business location in Canada
  • Have a genuine job offer
  • Have a viable business plan that demonstrates how the business will be funded and operated, and how the business can create or maintain employment opportunities for Canadians
  • Have the role of a sole owner (100% ownership) or majority shareholder (more than 50% ownership) who cannot be fired
  • Be actively involved in the day-to-day operations of the business from within Canada
  • Proof of sufficient funds to purchase and operate the Canadian business, passive investment is not eligible
  • Demonstrate the applicant's entry into Canada will result in creation or retention of employment opportunities for Canadians or permanent residents and/or transfer of knowledge and skills.
  • Employ at least one Canadian citizen or permanent resident within the first year, this must be described in the finished business plan
  • Have no criminal record
  • Meet medical exam requirements

4 Application Process:

  • Purchase an existing business or establish a new business in Canada
  • Submit LMIA application to ESDC (a department of Service Canada)
  • Obtain a work permit based on a positive LMIA
  • Actively manage the business operations (create at least one employment opportunity)
  • Provide a final business performance report to IRCC
  • Apply for permanent residence (under a Federal Express Entry or a PNP program)
  • Have medical exam
  • Receive Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR) and PR Visa
  • Land in Canada and receive permanent resident card

5 Related Expenses:


Government Fees:

  • LMIA application: $1,000 ($230 if it's LMIA-exempt)
  • Work Permit application: $255
  • Permanent residence application: principal applicant: $1,040 (incl. $550 processing fee and $490 permanent residence fee or RPRF); spouse or common-law partner; dependent children: $150/per child.
  • Third-party fees: medical exams, police certificates, language testing, notary, translation, delivery and postage, etc.
  • Aladdin Immigration professional fees (excluding any government or third party charges)