If you work for a company that has a parent company, branch, subsidiary, or affiliate in Canada, you may be able to secure a Canadian work permit through the Intra-Company Transfer program.
Employers bringing international staff to Canada as intra-company transferees are exempt from the requirement to obtain a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). For this reason, the process can be quicker, simpler, and more cost effective than the LMIA route.
Qualified intra-company transferees provide ‘significant economic benefit to Canada’ through the transfer of their skills and expertise to the Canadian labour market. Intra-company transferees may be from any country.
Intra-Company Transfer categories
In order to be eligible to work in Canada under the Intra-Company Transfer program, foreign workers must fall into one of three defined categories:
- 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 manage all or part of the enterprise and supervise or control the work of other managers or professional employees.
- Workers with ‘specialized knowledge’ can demonstrate specialized knowledge of the enterprise’s product or service, or an advanced level of expertise in the enterprise’s processes and procedures.
In all cases, workers being transferred to Canada must have at least one 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.
Intra-Company Transfer 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 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.
Transition to Permanent Residence
Intra-company transferees are often in a strong position to become permanent residents of Canada, should they wish to do so. Permanent residents can reside and work in any location in Canada.
Since launching in 2015, Canada’s Express Entry immigration selection system has become the main driver of economic immigration to Canada. In November, 2016, intra-company transferees looking to transition to permanent residence received a major boost as IRCC 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 intra-company transferees to increase their CRS score, leading to an improved chance of being invited to apply for permanent residence.
There may also be options to transition to permanent residence outside the Express Entry system, such as through one of the Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs).
Ultimately, some people who begin working in Canada as intra-company transferees may become naturalized Canadian citizens. This step comes after the granting of permanent residence.