Work Permit options in Canada for Entrepreneurs in 2021

Recently, Canada has implemented several regulatory reforms concerning entrepreneur immigration.

Effective April 1, 2021, Canada declared that the Owner/Operator category under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) will be officially terminated. This has been an unfortunate occurrence as the category previously authorized individuals to apply for work permits without needing to advertisement requirement for LMIA’s (Labor Market Impact Assessment.

Another major headline is that investors that are part of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). As of January 1, 2021, Canada is no longer accepting applications from the United Kingdom under this initiative. Rather, once it is approved, which is due at the start of this year, they will be processed under the current Canada-UK Trade Continuity Agreement. For the time being, United Kingdom applicants will require an LMIA or follow the criteria for an LMIA-exempt work permit category.

Here is a list of four options for entrepreneurs who want to start a business in Canada

Intra Company Transfer

This option is for entrepreneurs who wish to extend an established international business into Canada.

Eligibility Criteria is as follows:

  1. A viability test must be passed by the new Canadian company, which can be done by presenting financial records, proof of physical property, and a business plan including hire of at least one Canadian within the first year of business.
  2. The foreign company and the Canadian businesses must be related in terms of their ownership structure
  3. The person being transferred to run the new Canadian business must have worked for at least one year in a comparable full-time senior management or executive role for the international company that is transferring them.

CUSMA Investor

Under the Canada-United-States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA) Investor agreement, citizens of the United States or Mexico who invest in new or existing companies in Canada will be able to qualify for a work permit. To apply, an investor must formulate a business strategy that includes information about the overall funds needed to start or buy a business. They must also demonstrate that a substantial portion of these funds has already been allocated to the project. The company is also supposed to create employment and support the local economy in other ways.

CETA Investor

Under the CETA Investor program, European investors who are eligible can Remain in Canada for a year without an LMIA. To eligible, the investor must be employed in a supervisory or executive position in a company that contributes a significant amount of money to Canadian business.


This category allows a work permit to entrepreneurs who own at least 50% of a seasonal Canadian enterprise. This also applies if the owner of a Canadian business intends to live outside of the country. In such instances, an LMIA may not be needed for the work permit. Once again, the entrepreneur must prove that their respective business will have a positive impact on the Canadian economy and society.

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