What Do the New Changes to the Owner-Operator LMIA mean?

What Do the New Changes to the Owner-Operator LMIA mean?

This article has been co-authored by Mariam Jammal, Immigration Case Worker and Articling Student at Sobirovs Law Firm. I thank her for her significant contribution.

Cancellation of the Owner-Operator LMIA Program as we know it

Nearly four months after news first broke that Service Canada and IRCC were considering making substantial changes to the Owner-Operator LMIA program, Service Canada officially announced on February 18, 2021, that they plan to cancel the program entirely as of April 1, 2021. Understandably, this has left many business owners scrambling to figure out where they stand – are pending applications being thrown out? Are there any other options for business owners that want to open and operate a business in Canada? What are the best alternatives to the Owner-Operator LMIA Program?

While this news went far beyond what Service Canada and IRCC were rumoured to be changing, there is hope yet!

The Owner-Operator LMIA was only one of many programs business owners can use to run their business in Canada and as we reported in November 2020, no longer the most ideal program for business owners hoping to relocate and run their businesses in Canada and get those needed 200 CRS points for their Express Entry application.

So, now, what are the alternatives to the Owner-Operator LMIA Program?

LMIA-Exempt Programs

These programs are independent of Service Canada and are less likely to change spontaneously. They are tried and tested programs that we have seen high rates of success with.

The C-11 Significant Benefit Program

The C-11 Work Permit program allows foreign entrepreneurs and investors to come to Canada and work in a Canadian company that they own that provides significant economic, social or cultural benefits to Canada. This is an LMIA exempt work permit, which means that foreign entrepreneurs can apply for a work permit to the Canadian immigration authorities without the need to secure a positive LMIA decision

The C-12 Intra-Company Transferee Program

The Intra-Company Transfer Program (ICT) is a work permit program for foreign business owners with active and successful companies already operating in their home countries. This program allows business owners to expand their businesses to Canada, transfer executive or managerial employees, or employees with specialized knowledge and provides a pathway to settle in Canada permanently.

You can find answers to your ICT-related questions in the FAQ section of our website.

Treaty-based Work Permit Programs

There are many work permit programs available to business owners from treaty countries like the USA, Mexico, Chile, Australia, Japan, Vietnam etc. These Treaties offer specialized programs to foreign business owners and entrepreneurs looking to do business in Canada. Check-in with us to see if you qualify under a Treaty to explore your options.

The LMIA Programs

The Owner-Operator LMIA Program

The Owner-Operator LMIA Program will continue to be active until April 1, 2021, and as a result, applications submitted before this date will still be considered. If your sights are firmly set on this program, there is a small window of opportunity left to apply under this program.

The Regular LMIA Stream

Business owners of Canadian companies also have the option of applying for an LMIA-backed work permit as employees of their companies. Under the regular stream, the business will need to first apply for an LMIA for the position they are hiring in, and once they receive a positive decision, they can apply for a work permit.

What about business owners already in Canada under the Owner-Operator LMIA Program?

While Service Canada hasn’t announced its plans or intentions to transition the business owners that are currently in Canada under the Owner-Operator LMIA program, we expect there will be more news about this in the weeks to come. Unless they announce otherwise, this new decision will not apply retroactively, which means that valid LMIAs will continue to be valid until they expire. What you will need to keep your eye on are LMIA extensions and renewals.

Contact Us For Clear Guidance

The bottom line is, whatever path you decide to take, we will be here to see you through it.

Sobirovs Law Firm is committed to helping our clients pick the most favourable strategies through changing policies and global pandemics. We work with various Canadian organizations that attract foreign investment to many regions of Canada.

If you are determined to come to Canada through business immigration and have enough financial resources to do so, we will do our best to find the most suitable options for you. We take the extra mile for our eligible clients.

If you are feeling uncertain about your future with these proposed program changes or if you have questions about what strategy may be best for you, don’t wait, contact us today and book your 1-hour Strategy Meeting with your senior immigration lawyer.