Owner Operator Program in Canada

Updated on Friday 10th June 2022

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The Owner Operator program in Canada refers to the immigration process through which a foreigner can relocate here for the purpose of developing a business activity.

However, one has to know that this program combines regulations concerning immigration for investment purposes with the ones available for foreigners who want to relocate here for work purposes, and that the program has sufferent some important changes, which are presented below.  
 
 Quick Facts  
Who can apply for the Owner Operator Program in Canada? 

Foreign investors who are able to purchase at least 50.1% of the shares of a Canadian based company or who can launch a new business 

Permanent residency (yes/no) 

Yes 

National applicability (yes/no) 

Yes, the Owner Operator Program in Canada is applicable at a national level. 

Company formation requirements

- the investor must own at least 50.1% of the shares of a company;

- the company must have a positive impact on Canadian citizens/residents;

- Canadian citizens/residents have priority in filling job openings. 

Main characteristics of the Owner Operator Program in Canada 

- the program is designed for business purposes and it is an immigration pathway that can grant permanent residency to those who are selected;

- investors can relocate here with their families;

- the investors can become employees of their company in top management positions, in certain conditions

LMIA application requirements 

LMIA procedures can be completed only after concluding recruitment procedures for the Canadian citizens/residents.

Prioritization rules (yes/no) 

Yes

 Who must be hired in the companies of owner operators in Canada?

Canadian citizens or residents have priority, under the latest procedures applicable to this program.

Recruitment obligations

The owner of the company is obligated to perform recruitment procedures (advertising, job announcements, interviews, recruitment through recruitment agencies). 

When can the owner operator hire himself/herself in the company? Only if there aren't any Canadian citizens/residents who can fill the respective job openings.
Category of foreigners favored by the LMIA system 

Highly skilled individuals, with exceptional abilities and experience in fields in which Canada does not have qualified workforce

Other business immigration programs with the LMIA 

The Global Talent Stream  

Non-LMIA programs for foreign businessmen  

The Self-Employed Work Permit or the Intra-Company Transfer

Company formation services offered by our team  

- registering a new legal entity;

- assisting in the process of purchasing a company available for sale;

- assisting in expanding a foreign company on the local market;

- opening a bank account,

- obtaining licenses and permits etc.

Immigration services for foreign investors  

- legal assistance in applying for a suitable visa type;

- preparing the necessary paperwork;

- helping foreigners relocate with their family members;

- providing up-to-date information on the immigration law;

- legal assistance for visa rejection procedures etc.



This is given by the fact that the Owner Operator program in Canada requires the applicants to either purchase a company (or purchase the majority of voting rights in a company) that is registered in this country or to incorporate a new legal entity.

At the same time, another particularity of the program is that the founder of the company or the shareholder will act as an employee of the company
 
If you want to open a company in Canada as a foreign businessman, you can rely on our team of specialists for information on how to access the Owner Operator program.

Our consultants in company registration in Canada can present the steps you should follow in this case, but we also invite you to read the information below, which offers a short presentation regarding this subject. 
 

New regulations concerning the Owner Operator in Canada 


Starting with 1st of April 2021, the Owner Operator program went through few significant changes related to the LMIA application

Some of the immigration procedures that would ease the access of foreigners on the local market have been abolished, and this made the program less accessible. 

Under the new rules, the Owner Operator program requires that a job position in a company that is owned by a foreign entrepreneur (by purchasing or by owning at least 50.1% of the company’s shares) should be first addressed to Canadian citizens or Canadian permanent residents

Before 1st of April 2021, there weren’t any rules regarding the prioritization of Canadian residents, which made the Owner Operator LMIA process an easier immigration route for foreigners. 

Because the Department of Employment and Social Development of Canada removed an important provision that was applied for the Owner Operator LMIA, this will have a negative impact on LMIA applications

The Department removed the policy through which the Owner Operator LMIA job position was not required to be advertised on the Canadian market (it also didn’t impose any recruitment procedures in Canada). 

The purpose of the program is that a foreign investor can purchase a company and then hire himself/herself in a qualifying job position in his or her company (CEO, manager, etc.) by conducting LMIA procedures

Successful applications lead to the issuance of a work permit and then to permanent residency, which is the most important matter for those who want to become permanent residents here through this immigration pathway

Under the new policies, the investor purchasing the company is now required to first advertise the same job position (CEO, manager) to persons who are Canadian citizens or permanent residents.

Efforts of conducting recruitment procedures have to be shown (posting the job advertisement, addressing to a recruitment company, organizing interviews). 

Only if at the end of the recruitment process, there weren’t any valid applications or suitable applicants, the owner operator is allowed to apply for the LMIA, which will lead to the issuance of the work permit and permanent residency.  

Given that the Canadian employment market is a highly skilled one, the possibility of not finding suitable candidates is very low, and this is why the LMIA procedure has become more complicated for owner operators

Although the new regulations of the program limit the access of foreigners through the LMIA pathway, it must be noted that it can still be accessed by foreigners who have a remarkable experience in their field. 

Our team of consultants in company registration in Canada can assist you with more details on the regulations of the new Owner Operator LMIA

What are the main characteristics of the Owner Operator in Canada?
 

First and foremost, the purpose of the program is to act as an immigration system for those who want to relocate here for a given amount of time or on a permanent basis.

Through the Owner Operator program in Canada, one can receive the permanent residency, while developing a business activity here. 
 
An advantage of the program is that those who want to open a company in Canada are not bound by investing a minimum amount of capital in a business, as there aren’t any capital requirements.

The program is applied at a national level, and all the Canadian provinces require the accomplishment of the same steps, the sole exception from this rule being in Quebec, where additional regulations have to be met.  
 
If you want to participate in this program, we highly advise you to gather as many details as possible with regards to the documents necessary for this procedure, the steps you have to follow, the fees that you may need to pay and others. For all these aspects, our team of specialists in company formation in Canada remain at your disposal.  
 
The main idea of the program is the following: the foreigner will start the process of Canada company formation or will purchase a local company or will purchase at least 51% of the shares of a company.

After this is done, he or she will begin the process for Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), though which he or she will be able to obtain a work permit and a residence permit
 
The program is created with the purpose of providing a high level of flexibility for investors who simply want to invest in this country and who will later on will consider relocating here for a longer period of time.

If this is something of interest, then the investor will start the LMIA process, through which he or she will request the right for his or her company to hire foreign workforce. In this particular case, the foreign employee will be represented by the company’s owner.  
 

What does the Canadian LMIA form contain? 
 

The LMIA form is a type of document that has to be completed by all those who arrive in Canada for business purposes or work related activities.

The LMIA form is created for the Temporary Foreign Worker program and special procedures have to be completed by the Canadian employers. The form contains the following sections: 
 
  • Section 1 – information on the company’s trading name, registered address, company type and others;
  • Section 2 – contact information of the employer, such as name, address, phone number, etc.;
  • Section 3 – third-party information (here, the authorized representative of the employer can also provide his or her personal information);
  • Section 4 – Labor Market Impact, a section where the employer has to provide information on whether the respective employment contract is signed for a job shortage, for the creation of additional jobs, etc.;
  • Section 5 – details on the job opening and duration of the employment contract. 
     
The form requires information on the place where the job activity will be developed, the hourly and monthly salary of the employee, the benefits that the person will be entitled to, the manner in which the recruitment is performed, the purpose of the application (permanent residency and the issuance of the work permit) and others.
 

Are there any alternatives for permanent residency in Canada? 


Yes. Foreign businessmen can still obtain permanent residency through other immigration pathways. There is the possibility to apply for the LMIA through the Global Talent Stream, which is addressed to highly skilled persons.  

Other 2 common programs for businessmen which do not apply the LMIA procedures are: 1) the Self-Employed Work Permit and 2) Intra-company Transfer Work Permit

For the self-employed path, the foreigner has to open a company in Canada that will have a positive impact on the social, cultural or economic life. 

The owner of the company has to show the ways in which the respective business can create opportunities for local citizens/residents. 

There are other immigration pathways available for foreign investors; you can rely on our consultants, who can help you open a company in Canada and can represent you in the immigration procedures as well (LMIA assessment, obtaining the work permit, the residence card, etc.). 
 

For more information regarding this subject, we invite you to contact our team of consultants in company formation in Canada, who can advise you on all the requirements that have to be met.