Intra Company Transfers
If you own a successful company outside of Canada, and wish to open a branch, subsidiary, or affiliate in Canada, you may be able to secure a Canadian work permit through the Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) program. By opening a business in Canada, you, as the employer, can bring international staff to Canada as ICT transfers. It is important to note that ICTs are exempt from the requirement to obtain a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) in advance of applying for a work visa. For this reason, the process can be quicker, more simple, and more cost effective than pursuing the LMIA option to hire a temporary foreign worker.
Qualified ICT workers provide ‘significant economic benefit to Canada’ through the transfer of their skills and expertise. While an ICT employee may be from any country, the government has defined categories of what constitutes an ICT.
The government has three broad categories for ICT workers:
Executives - Primarily direct the management of the enterprise, or a major component thereof, and receive only general (if any) supervision from higher level executives.
Senior Managers - All or part of the enterprise, and supervise or control the work of other managers or professional employees.
Specialized Workers - Must demonstrate specialized knowledge of the business's product or service, or an advanced level of expertise in the enterprise’s processes and procedures.
In all cases, workers who are transferred to Canada must have at least one (1) year of full-time work experience with the foreign enterprise, and be coming to Canada to perform comparable work. There must be a qualifying relationship between the employer and employee in order for a work permit to be issued.
Work permit duration
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) stipulates that initial work permits granted under the Intra-Company Transfer program are typically for a one-year duration. However, these work permits may be renewed for several years.
For renewals, evidence should be provided that:
The Canadian and foreign companies still have a qualifying relationship;
The new office has engaged in the continuous provision of goods or services for the past year; and
The new office has been staffed appropriately.
From ICT to PR
Intra-company transfer workers are often in a strong position to become permanent residents of Canada and work in any location within Canada.
After a certain period of time, an ICT can enter Canada’s Express Entry immigration selection system through the federal government's Canadian Experience Class (CEC) program. This has become the main driver of economic immigration to Canada since 2016, and ICT looking to transition to permanent residence received a major boost as the government changed the Express Entry system to allow these workers to obtain Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) points without first being issued a LMIA. This important change has made it easier for ICTs to increase their CRS score, leading to an improved chance of being invited to apply for permanent residency.
There may also be options to transition to permanent residency outside the Express Entry system, such as through one of the Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs).