Canada has a program called the International Mobility Program, which allows international companies to temporarily transfer skilled foreign workers to Canada. This means that any  company with a location in Canada can transfer its high-skilled employees to the Canadian business location. There are numerous qualifying international free trade agreements under which a work permit application can be made so that a foreign worker can work in Canada temporarily:

  • the Chile, Peru, Columbia and Korea free trade agreements contain provisions similar to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which grant temporary entry to 4 categories of business persons: business visitors, professionals, intra-company transferees, and traders and investors;
  • NAFTA. As of July 1, 2020, NAFTA has been superseded by the Canada–United States–Mexico Agreement (CUSMA); however, the Temporary Entry for Business Persons chapter remains unchanged;
  • the Canada-European Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) also contains provisions which grant temporary entry to business visitors, professionals, intra-company transferees and investors. Entry requirements are significantly different for some categories;
  • the Agreement on Trade Continuity between Canada and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (CUKTCA) contains provisions that are the same as CETA;
  • the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), professionals are authorized to enter Canada to work and conduct business temporarily for other member states, where the above-noted free trade agreements do not apply.

Intra-company transferees require Canadian work visas and are exempted from the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), as their knowledge and expertise are considered to be of huge benefit to Canada.

Another significant benefit from this program is that after having worked for one year in Canada, the intra-company transferee could be eligible to apply to become a permanent resident of Canada. It is because the one-year Canadian work permit issued to intra-company transferees allows them to gain Canadian experience and to collect points in order to increase their score to become eligible for Express Entry under the Canadian Experience Class. If the potential applicant meets certain criteria, an invitation to apply will be issued so that they can apply directly for permanent residence in Canada.

A qualified and experienced immigration lawyer will assist you with your immigration and work permit application to increase your chances of reaching your Canadian immigration aspirations.

Requirements for intra-company transferees

Intra-company transferees may apply for a work permit if they meet the following requirements:

  • be currently employed by a multi-national company and would be transferred to work in a parent, a subsidiary, a branch, or an affiliate of that enterprise;
  • being transferred to a company that has a qualifying relationship with the company that they are currently employed, and will be working at a legitimate and continuing establishment of that company;
  • being transferred to a position in an executive, senior managerial, or specialized knowledge capacity;
  • have been directly and continuously employed by the company that plans to transfer them in a similar full-time position for at least one year in the three-year period immediately preceding the date of initial application;
  • come to Canada temporarily;
  • comply with all other immigration requirements for temporary entry.

Requirements for the company

As to the requirements for the company that wishes to transfer its employees to the Canadian business premise, the company must meet the following requirements:

  • the company must have a Canadian business location, unless it is a new start-up and the transferee is a senior manager or executive. In this case, a counsel’s address might be used until purchase or lease of business premises;
  • the company must provide feasible plans to staff the new operation;
  • the company must have sufficient financial capacity to start and conduct business in Canada and to pay wages to its employees;
  • when transferring executives or managers, the company must show that it will be big enough to support executive or management activities;
  • when transferring a specialized knowledge worker, the company must show that it is expected to be doing business and ensure that work is guided and directed by management at the Canadian operation .

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Duration of work permits

The initial duration of intra-company transferees work permits is one year but in certain circumstances may be granted for two years. Majority of our clients were granted the duration of two years for work permits and we saved the employers time and money and the hassle to submit the application twice. If the work-permit holder wishes to extend or renew the work permit, the following has to be demonstrated: 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.

As we can see, there are plenty of benefits to take away from this program. It is highly recommended to have an immigration lawyer lead you through the process or spend enough time learning about your specific situation to avoid making costly mistakes and to increase your chances of success.

For more information, contact our immigration law office today!

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