OWNER OPERATOR STREAM
You can purchase a share of a business or set up a new one, and apply for an Owner Operator based Work Permit. You can be admitted to Canada in less than 6 months.
An Owner Operator Application (called an LMIA) allows a foreign entrepreneur to purchase a business and obtain a Work Permit much faster than through the provincial Entrepreneur Programs. The applicant must meet strict requirements that the Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) has stipulated; but, once done, the Applicant would be able to obtain a Work Permit in 3-4 months after applying. This makes the Owner Operator Stream the preferred route for many potential entrepreneurs.
In contrast, most provincial Entrepreneur Programs operate under an Expression of Interest scheme. Candidates must submit a lengthy application to express their interest, and wait until the province approves them. The entire process can take up to 2 years, before an applicant can enter Canada on a Work Permit. In turn, many potential entrepreneurs choose the Owner Operator stream instead.
Finding an eligible business
Submitting an application
Work in Canada for 1+ years
Business Immigration Streams
To qualify as an owner-operator, the foreign investor must have:
- Verifiable, transferable management experience.
- Sufficient assets to purchase the targeted business in Canada.
- Sufficient language abilities in either English or French to actively work as a manager in the business.
- Controlling interest in the business: own more than 50% of the shares and cannot be dismissed
- Commit to creating 2-3 new employee positions for Canadians, in addition to the existent employees (if any) in the Canadian business
Ownership of shares does not by itself guarantee that a foreign national qualifies as an owner-operator. The offer of employment must be made to a foreign investor that will be actively engaged in the management of the business. This will be assessed by reviewing the foreign national’s intention to operate the business as well as prior experience in managing or operating a business.
- The foreign investor identifies a Canadian business to purchase.
- A Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) is submitted along with a suitable business plan.
- Once a positive LMIA opinion is issued, the foreign investor applies for a 12-24 months, renewable temporary work permit at the management level.
It is recommended to apply for a Visitor Visa in order to visit Canada and canvass different business options or prospects. Obtaining a Visitor Visa generally takes 1-2 months. Finding a suitable business could take an additional 1-2+ months. Completing the business transaction can take 2-4 weeks. Submitting an Owner Operator LMIA and awaiting a result can take between 3-4 months.Obtaining a Work Permit will take 2-4 weeks. In total expect the entire process to take 5-7 months.
There is no minimum wait time. In order to qualify for extra points in the Express Entry process, it is recommended that you apply after 1 year of work experience. After the first year of working in Canada, the foreign Owner Operator along with immediate family members can apply for permanent residence through the Express Entry Process, Canadian Experience Class. In most cases, the Express Entry process can be completed in less than 12 months.