This program allows foreign entrepreneurs to start, buy and operate their own business in Canada on a temporary basis. It also allows foreign entrepreneurs who intend to settle in Canada permanently and come and start their business early.

Among the most important conditions of eligibility for this Work Permit is that the business in question should generate significant economic, social or cultural benefits or opportunities for Canadians. This condition is often met if the entrepreneur is providing a unique service that has the ability to create economic stimulus in Canada like job creation or advancement of Canadian industry. These conditions are often proved to officers by submitting a well-thought business and action plan.

The work-permit issued under this program is LMIA exempt with the initial duration of maximum two years. This type of work-permit can be renewed for multiple times if certain conditions are met.

If structured correctly, the Work Permit obtained through this program can earn the applicant up to 200 CRS points under the Express Entry regime. This will considerably increase the applicant’s chances for getting the right of permanent residence through that program.

Entrepreneur Work Permit at a glance

Legal GroundSection 205(a) of IRPR 
LMIA RequirementExempted – C11 
Eligibility  Business owners that have a controlling interest (more than 50%) in unique businesses providing goods/services that would provide “significant economic, social or cultural benefits” in Canada;
RequirementsEstablish “significant benefit” of the business in Canada;
Incorporation in Canada;
Detailed business plan;
Financial ability to operate Canadian company;
Performance ObligationsNone 
Financial/Investment RequirementThere are no investment obligations but the foreign company must prove sufficient financial ability to start operations in Canada. This amount varies depending on the type of business, but in general cannot be less than CAD 100,000; 
Required Supporting DocumentsProof of “significant benefit” of the business (i.e. business description, demonstration of uniqueness, annual reports, marketing material, public attention, licenses, patents, know-how, …);
Proof of applicant’s controlling interest in the business (i.e. shareholder structure, Articles of Incorporation, share certificates, etc.);
Applicant’s personal documents (i.e. resume, education, financial ability and etc.);
Proof of Canadian incorporation;
Detailed business plan;
Visa Validity and Renewal2 years, can be renewed multiple times;
Family MembersApplicant’s spouse can get open work permit;
Applicants’ children under 22 can get study permit;
Work Permit Social BenefitsAccess to free health care for applicant and their family members;
Access to free education for children (up to and including secondary education);
Processing Time2 weeks – 3 months (depending on the country of applicant); 
Permeant Residency ProspectLikely. Under different federal and provincial programs depending on certain conditions; 
  1. What is dual intent?

    Dual intent in Canadian immigration context means that a foreign national who has applied or may apply for permanent residence in Canada also applies to enter Canada for a temporary period. For example, a PNP potential applicant who wants to visit the province before filing his or her application is considered to have dual intent. Or an entrepreneur who wants to start his/her business in Canada with the Entrepreneur Work-Permit with the intention of residing permanently in Canada has dual intent.
    Having dual intent is legitimate based on subsection 22(2) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA). Therefore, dual intent on the part of the applicant is not prima facie grounds for refusal of temporary resident status. The deciding immigration officer however has to make sure that the applicant for temporary residence who also has intentions for permanent settlement, will leave Canada at the end of the temporary period authorized, and that they will have the incentive to leave Canada when their work is complete.

  2. How is “significant economic, social or cultural benefit” determined?

    There are many factors that can show Significant Benefits of your intended work or business. some of these factors are:
    Whether your intended business/work will create a viable business that will provide economic stimulus such as job creation, development in a regional or remote setting, expansion of export markets for Canadian products and services and etc;
    Whether your intended business/work will contribute to advancement of the Canadian industry such as technological development, product or service innovation or differentiation or opportunities for improving the skills of Canadians;
    Whether you (the applicant) have a particular background or skill that will improve the viability of your intended business/work;
    Whether there is a business plan and evidence available that clearly shows that the applicant has taken steps to initiate the business such as forming the business, hiring staff, spending on the business, renting space, marketing and etc;

  3. What if I do not own at least 50% of the proposed business?

    Unless exceptional circumstances can be demonstrated, any interest less than 50% in the proposed business will necessitate a positive LMIA. This is because they no longer qualify as self-employed or entrepreneur rather they will be considered employees.

  4. What if there are more than one owners?

    If there are multiple owners, only one owner is generally eligible for a work permit under this program, unless exceptional circumstances can be demonstrated. While IRCC does not want to discourage investment in Canada, these guidelines are intended to prevent the transfer of minority shares solely for the purpose of obtaining a work permit. In other words, if more than one owner wants to take advantage of this program, they must be able to show why they are essential for the proposed business and how they can improve its viability.

  5. Is the success of my proposed business a determining factor?

    No, but its viability is a deciding factor. Your proposed business shall be viable meaning it is capable of working successfully.

  6. How do I know if I can get permanent residency after my work-permit?

    This requires an assessment on a case-by-case basis. If interested, please book your consultation now.

  7. Is there a language requirement for this program?

    No. But if you are planning for permanent residency you will need to have language proficiency by the time you apply for permanent residency.