International Mobility Program: Canadian interests – Significant benefit – Entrepreneurs and self-employed candidates seeking to operate a business [R205(a) – C11]

This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada staff. It is posted on the Department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.

As per subsection 22(2) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, applicants who have a dual intent to seek status as temporary workers and then eventually as permanent residents must satisfy the officer that they have the ability and willingness to leave Canada at the end of the temporary period authorized under section 183 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations. The applicant must be able to demonstrate that they will have the incentive to depart Canada when their work is complete (e.g., operation of a rib stand at a festival) or the business closes.

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Applicants seeking only temporary residence

Foreign nationals applying to work for themselves or to operate their own business on a temporary basis must demonstrate that their admission to Canada to operate their business would generate significant economic, social or cultural benefits or opportunities for Canadian citizens or permanent residents pursuant to paragraph R205(a). Benefits to Canadian clients of a self-employed worker may be considered in this case, particularly if the worker is providing a unique service. If the applicant intends to start or buy a business and eventually stay in Canada on a permanent basis, officers should encourage the applicant to apply for permanent residence.

Factors in considering “significant benefit”

Questions to consider in determining whether paragraph R205(a) is met (regardless of what percentage of the business in Canada is owned) include but are not limited to the following:

  • Is the work likely to create a viable business that will benefit Canadian or permanent resident workers or provide economic stimulus?
  • Does the applicant have a particular background or skills that will improve the viability of the business?
  • Is there a business plan that clearly shows that the applicant has taken steps to initiate their business?
  • Has the applicant taken some measure to put the business plan in action (showing evidence of having the financial ability to begin the business and pay expenditures, renting space, having a staffing plan, obtaining a business number, showing ownership documents or agreements, etc.)?

Significant economic, social or cultural benefit

Indicators of “significant benefit” include

  • general economic stimulus (such as job creation, development in a regional or remote setting or expansion of export markets for Canadian products and services);
  • advancement of the Canadian industry (such as technological development, product or service innovation or differentiation or opportunities for improving the skills of Canadians).

In cases where significant benefit is being argued, the applicant may provide information up front (or be requested to provide it) from organizations in Canada that can support the application. For example, if an applicant wishes to be self-employed in the tourism industry, officers could request that the applicant provide further submissions from the provincial tourism authority to assist in determining whether the activity would be beneficial or actually impinge on Canadian service providers. Other sources of information and advice include local Canadian Chambers of Commerce and Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC).

Degree of ownership

The issuance of work permits for entrepreneurs should be considered only when the applicant controls at least 50% of the business in question.

Where an individual is a partial owner with a slightly smaller stake and is coming to work in the business, they are required to apply for a work permit as an employee (rather than as an entrepreneur or self-employed person) and may therefore require a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).

If there are multiple owners, only one owner is generally eligible for a work permit pursuant to paragraph R205(a), unless exceptional circumstances can be demonstrated. While Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (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.

A virtual employer-employee relationship, or the appearance of such, is not a true reflection of a business operation. For more information, see Qualifying relationship between the employer and the foreign worker. ESDC has a policy to issue LMIAs for certain owner/operator situations.

Long-term self-employed applicants

Applicants who have repeatedly been issued work permits over several years in the self-employed or entrepreneur category should, in addition to satisfying the indicators of general economic stimulus, be able to provide evidence of the following:

  • registration of their business as a legal entity in Canada;
  • demonstration that the profits of the business remain predominantly in Canada or proof that other significant benefits have accrued to Canada;
  • proof that all appropriate federal, provincial or territorial and local tax returns have been filed; and
  • proof that they meet the temporary requirement of subsection A22(2), that they will leave Canada at the end of the period authorized for their stay.

Work permit processing instructions for temporary residence applicants

To be eligible, a foreign national must

  • have received either
  • have paid the employer compliance fee (self-employed persons are considered their own employer and must therefore pay the employer compliance fee); and
  • have submitted an application for a work permit.

Note: The IMM 5802 form is authorized only in rare situations or for foreign companies that do not yet have a Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) number. Instructions are available in the Employer Portal enrollment guide.

The processing office will do the following:

  • Confirm that the receipt number for the employer compliance fee is valid or that the employer has indicated a fee exemption. This information is captured separately from the work permit processing fee information in the “Fees” view tab in the Global Case Management System (GCMS).
  • Confirm that the IPG has entered a “Client Note” on the “Client” screen indicating that the employer has been authorized to use the “Offer of Employment to a Foreign National Exempt from a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA)” form [IMM 5802] for the specific foreign national.
  • Review the information in the “Offer of Employment to a Foreign National Exempt from a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA)” form [IMM 5802].

Work permit issuance in GCMS

The work permit will be issued under the authority of paragraph 205(a) and will be coded as follows:

  • Employer name: foreign national’s name or business name as per the offer of employment
  • Employment location: as per the IMM 5802 form and work permit application
  • LMIA-exemption code: C-11
  • NOC: 8888
  • Intended occupation: entrepreneur
  • Case type: 52
  • LMIA-exempt (offer of employment) number: required
  • Employer compliance fee: required
  • Duration: the work permit is to be valid as per the applicant’s request and officer’s judgement

Note: The employer is subject to regulatory imposed conditions based on the information provided in the offer of employment.

Note: Officers must be satisfied that the applicant meets the requirements of subsection A22(2), according to which they will leave Canada by the end of the period authorized for their stay.

Applicants seeking eventual permanent residence

There are two categories of potential permanent residence applicants who may apply for a work permit under this category:

  • Actual or potential provincial nominees undertaking business activities;
  • Quebec-destined entrepreneurs or self-employed persons issued a Quebec Selection Certificate (CSQ).

Applicants in these categories have demonstrated that their admission to Canada to begin establishing or operating their business may generate significant economic, social or cultural benefits or opportunities for Canadian citizens or permanent residents pursuant to paragraph R205(a).

Actual or potential provincial nominees undertaking business activities

A foreign national who has a valid nomination from a province or territory for permanent residence and is employed or has a job offer from an employer based in that province or territory may be issued a work permit under LMIA exemption code T13.

A work permit may be issued to a foreign national who is being considered by a provincial or territorial government for potential nomination for permanent residence. This is possible because the province or territory wants the potential nominee to implement their business plan and wants to ensure the candidate is able to successfully establish the business before they actually nominate the foreign national.

Note: In cases where the applicant has received a nomination in the business category or is self-employed and the permanent residence application is not yet processed, a C11 work permit may be authorized as an initial work permit or extension, where there is a compelling argument for early entry.

Work permit processing instructions for potential nominees and nominated applicants undertaking business activities

To be eligible, a foreign national must

  • have a letter of support from the province or territory (this letter of support should count towards evidence that their admission to Canada to operate a business may create significant economic, social or cultural benefit to Canada; additional documentation [such as a business plan] may be requested);

Note: The IMM 5802 form is authorized only in rare situations or for foreign companies that do not yet have a CRA number. Instructions are available in the Employer Portal enrollment guide.

The processing office will do the following:

  • Confirm that the IPG has entered a “Client Note” on the “Client” screen indicating that the employer has been authorized to use the “Offer of Employment to a Foreign National Exempt from a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA)” form [IMM 5802] for the specific foreign national. The IPG will have uploaded a copy of the IMM 5802 form under the “e-Documents sub-tab” of GCMS.
  • Confirm that a copy of the completed “IMM 5802” form is included with the work permit application. Review the information in the “Offer of Employment to a Foreign National Exempt from a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA)” form [IMM 5802].
  • Confirm that the receipt number for the employer compliance fee is valid or that the employer has indicated a fee exemption. This information is captured separately from the work permit processing fee information in the “Fees” view tab in GCMS.

Work permit issuance in GCMS

The work permit will be issued under the authority of paragraph R205(a) and will be coded as follows:

  • Employer name: foreign national’s name or business name as per the offer of employment
  • Employment location: requesting province or territory as per the offer of employment (except Quebec)
  • LMIA exemption code: C-11
  • NOC: 8888
  • Intended occupation: entrepreneur
  • Case type: 52
  • LMIA-exempt (offer of employment) number: required
  • Employer Compliance fee: required
  • Duration: the work permit is to be valid for two years

Note: The employer is subject to regulatory imposed conditions based on the information provided in the offer of employment. For further information, see International Mobility Program: Employer-specific work permits with Labour Market Impact Assessment exemptions.

Quebec-destined entrepreneurs or self-employed persons issued a CSQ

A work permit may be issued to entrepreneurs and self-employed individuals destined to Quebec where a CSQ has been issued, but the foreign national is not yet a permanent resident or a temporary worker. While Quebec does not have a provincial or territorial nominee program, special consideration is applicable on the basis of the Canada-Quebec Accord.

Work permit processing instructions for GCMS for Quebec-destined entrepreneurs or self-employed persons issued a CSQ

To be eligible, a foreign national must

  • have a valid CSQ as an entrepreneur or self-employed person;
  • have a request from the Ministère de l'Immigration, de la Diversité et de l'Inclusion (MIDI) requesting early entry;
  • have received either
  • have paid the employer compliance fee (self-employed persons are considered their own employer and must therefore pay the employer compliance fee); and
  • have submitted an application for a work permit.

The processing office will do the following:

  • Confirm that the IPG has entered a “Client Note” on the “Client” screen of GCMS indicating that the employer has been authorized to use the IMM 5802 form for the specific foreign national. The IPG will have uploaded a copy of the IMM 5802 form under the “e-Documents” sub-tab of GCMS.
  • Confirm that a copy of the completed “IMM 5802” form is included with the work permit application.
  • Confirm that the CSQ is issued to a foreign national who is applying as an entrepreneur or self-employed person and that a request from the Ministère de l'Immigration, de la Diversité et de l'Inclusion (MIDI) requesting early entry is included.
  • Confirm that the receipt number for the employer compliance fee is valid or that the employer has indicated a fee exemption. This information is captured separately from the work permit processing fee information in the “Fees” view tab in GCMS.
  • Review the information in the “Offer of Employment to a Foreign National Exempt from a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA)” form [IMM 5802].

Work permit issuance in GCMS

The work permit will be issued under the authority of paragraph R205(a) and will be coded as follows:

  • Employer name: foreign national’s name or business name as per the offer of employment
  • Employment location: Quebec
  • Validation exemption code: C-11
  • NOC: 8888
  • Intended occupation: entrepreneur
  • Case type: 52
  • LMIA-exempt (offer of employment) number: required
  • Employer compliance fee: required
  • Duration: the work permit is to be valid for two years

Note: The employer is subject to regulatory imposed conditions based on the information provided in the offer of employment. For further information, see International Mobility Program: Employer-specific work permits with Labour Market Impact Assessment exemptions.

Duration

The initial work permit can be issued for a maximum period of two years. It is not necessary that the foreign national’s application for permanent residence be received by IRCC for the work permit to be issued.

Extensions

An extension beyond two years can be granted only if an application for permanent residence is being processed (regular extension requirements apply) or in exceptional circumstances. Examples of exceptional circumstances might be significant investment projects or applicants for whom a provincial nomination certificate is still pending. The province or territory must have provided a letter of continued support.

Regular extension requirements apply.

Additional documentation

If officers are not satisfied that the potential permanent residence applicant will be engaging in genuine business activities, they may request additional documentation. This can include the following:

  • a business plan;
  • a staffing plan;
  • evidence of any measures taken to initiate the business plan (e.g., obtaining a business number, articles of incorporation);
  • evidence of the financial ability to commence business in Canada and compensate employees;
  • evidence of English or French language;
  • evidence of sufficient funds to support themselves while in Canada.
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