Business Owner operator Program


Owner Operator Program for Foreign Investors

Foreign Investors can buy a business in Canada, obtain a Work Permit and later can become Permanent Residents of Canada

The owner operator program provides a window of opportunity to Foreign Investors who are looking to run their business in Canada on Work Permit with a strong chance to become Permanent Resident of Canada. This is Federal program and is available all over Canada. There is no quota for this program. All other business programs for Foreign Investors and Entrepreneurs have a limited quota and strict rules to invest and work in Canada. This is the main reason that this program is gaining lot of popularity among Foreign Investors

This work visa is for Foreign Investors who wish to establish a new business or purchase an existing business in Canada. To qualify as an owner-operator, the foreign investor must have a verifiable, transferable experience as a business owner or as a business manager, sufficient assets to purchase the targeted business in Canada and sufficient language abilities in either English or French to actively work as a manager in the business.


The Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) program is a suitable vehicle to facilitate the admission to Canada of a foreign owner, following the sale of a Canadian business or the launch of a new entity.

For foreign investors begin with a temporary work permit under the federal Owner-Operator rules. These policies will apply for the establishment of a new business or the sale and transfer of a significant portion of ownership in a Canadian business to a foreign national.

The foreign owner operators on a work permit, at a later stage, apply for permanent residence to Canada under one of the programs serviced by the Express Entry system or under a suitable provincial business immigration stream. For Owner-Operators who apply under the LMIA program, they must have at minimum 50% ownership of the company and they may also benefit by receiving 200 points for an Express Entry permanent resident application as having a senior manager position (NOC 00).

Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) Exemption – Entrepreneur and Self-Employed as Business Owner Operator

For most applicants, if you want to apply for a work permit or business in Canada, you need a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) from Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) and a job offer letter from your future employer. This usually requires advertising an employment opportunity a month in advance offering the employment opportunity firstly to Canadians, First Nations or Permanent Residents. However, under the Owner-Operator pathway an individual has an exemption or “variation” from this advertising requirement to offer the position to someone else first.

Purchasing an Existing Business


This LMIA exemption or variation is available for business owners who are eligible for an LMIA exemption if they own a controlling share in a business and cannot be fired from their employment.
A “controlling share” is defined as the person who is a sole proprietor, or the only voting shareholder, or who is shareholder with a minimum of 50.1% of the shares. The Owner-Operator must also be involved in the daily business activities and concurrently have an employment relationship with the company. That is to say, the Owner-Operator as an employee cannot be dismissed because s/he is the majority or 100% owner of his/her own company. This is not a passive (non-active) investment pathway. Thus, the Owner-Operator who manages the day-to-day business of the company.

For Start Ups / Create a New Business


The Owner Operator LMIA exemption or variation requires the employer to have been “actively engaged” in the business prior to applying for a work permit under this pathway.
For start ups (a new company) a future Owner-Operator needs to demonstrate that s/he is an active participant through preparatory activity, which could be proof of:
1. A financial investment in a business;
2. Negotiating business contracts (for instance, signing a lease agreement);
3. Establishing / applying for a Business Number (BN) registration with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA);
4. Applying for and receiving Licenses or Permits; and
5. Presenting a well thought out and detailed Business Plan.


The Owner Operator LMIA Pathway to Working in Canada is open to Foreign Investors who are Business Owners or Business Managers and fulfill the following conditions:


1. Must be a majority owner (not less than 50.1%) and cannot be dismissed from management of the company;
2. Employs or will employ at least one Canadian or Permanent Resident; and
3. Will operate a business in Canada that contributes a significant social, cultural or economic benefit or a work opportunity for Canadian citizens or Permanent Residents in Canada.
4. Must show sufficient funds sufficient funds (ranging from $100,000 to 300,000) in its bank account to operate the business or to pay the salary of the foreign owner ranging from.

Required Documents


1. A business plan for the Canadian company
2. Proof of ownership of the Canadian company (Registration documents or a majority share purchase agreement)
3. Proof of genuineness of the business in Canada (e.g. marketing material, website, agreements, office rent, invoices etc.)
4. Applicant’s personal documents (educational degrees/diplomas, passport, marriage certificate, bank statements, proof of business experience &/or managerial experience, etc.)


Initial work visa is issued up to two years and can be renewed if the Foreign Worker has complied with conditions on his initial visa
Family members can join the main applicant. The spouse may get a work permit and children may get a study permit. Children may attend a public school for free. The applicant and the family members can get access to free health care during the validity of their visas.