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Owner/Operator LMIA

Owner/Operator LMIA

Owner/Operator LMIA

Owner/Operator LMIA is a special class of applications within the TFWP whereby a self-employed/qualified individual wishing to enter Canada can do so by establishing or purchasing a business. A foreign national would be an Owner/Operator if they establish that they have a controlling interest in the business and cannot be fired/dismissed (only answerable to themselves). Controlling interest according to guidelines and policy can be established by either:

  • Purchasing a business and be involved in its day-to-day operations (being a sole proprietor),
  • By being the majority shareholder (holding at least 50.1% shares) or
  • By providing an official document confirming that they hold the majority interest (even if they do not hold 50.1% of total shares).

There is no specified minimum percentage of shares to be held by a foreign national to be considered an Owner/Operator. In cases, where there are multiple owners of a business, the largest shareholder or the equal shareholder designated as the “employer” must apply for LMIAs to Service Canada for the other co-owners as “workers”. Individuals who only receive shares (less than to establish the controlling interest) as part of a compensation package are not subject to the term Owner-Operator. The foreign nationals must demonstrate that they have the controlling interest prior to submitting their application and for the duration of their employment in Canada.

The burden of proof in owner/operator LMIA application is on the foreign national/investor to provide information/documents to prove their shareholding/ownership status.

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Years Of Experience

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Successful Applications

Key scenarios and considerations in owner/operator LMIA application

New start-up business

This scenario is applicable to a foreign national where the individual is 100% owner of a start up business not in operation in Canada yet but dependent on a positive LMIA and Work Permit (WP). The owner/operator guidelines considerations state that the TFW can be considered owner/operator for the purposes of the LMIA if they can demonstrate that they have considerably prepared to open and operate the business (e.g., have incorporated the business, applied for a business license, entered into a lease agreement, securing contracts, etc.), have a viable business plan, have the intent and plan to retain/hire Canadian citizens and permanent residents within a reasonably short timeframe.

Complete purchase of a business

When a 100% purchase has been completed and documentary evidence is provided (e.g., share purchase agreement, share certificate, notice of articles, central securities register, shareholding/ownership documents, CRA business number), reflecting purchase/ownership change application, the burden of proof is less onerous. However, requirement on creation or retention of Canadian jobs and knowledge transfer to Canadians in the form of transition plan, still needs to be satisfied.

Pending complete purchase of business

When the current owner intends to sell 100% of the Canadian business to the foreign national/ investor, but completion of purchase/ownership change is contingent on an LMIA and WP, immigration authorities will broadly assess if the anticipatory project is genuine. Key factors include how advanced the transaction is (e.g., signed share purchase agreement, monies in escrow), how sound the foreign employee/investor’s business plan is to acquire 100% ownership the shares of the business as principal owner are and, whether the intent to hire or retain Canadian workers can be established? The existing owner could also submit the LMIA application to hire the foreign national/investor into a specific management position in the business pending purchase, in which case the regular program requirements will apply. The investor can work in that position until the purchase is completed. Once the purchase takes place in the future, the new owner as employer will submit a new LMIA to support an owner/operator management-based work visa/permit.

Partial purchase of a business

When the foreign national/investor has partially purchased a Canadian business but is still not a 100% owner, then the officer will assess who has the largest share in the business to determine if the investor be considered a principal owner or co-owner. Another important consideration is if existing owners/directors will continue to be involved in the business operation and management, why the foreign national’s involvement is required? Is the transaction genuine or in other words is their reasonable employment need?

Advantages of owner/operator LMIA

  • There is no requirement of having a certain total net worth or making any non-guaranteed investment in a Canadian government designated investment fund.
  • Foreign national/investor can apply for a work permit based on positive owner/operator LMIA.
  • Owner/operator LMIA award 200 points under comprehensive ranking system (CRS) and, foreign national/investor can apply for permanent residency through express entry program.


How Can X can help?

  • We can help you in identifying a suitable business to purchase. We help you form the corporation and start the buying of business process.
  • We can help you in preparing a sound business plan.
  • We can help you for applying LMIA application.
  • Once LMIA is approved we can help you in your work permit & permanent residency application.

If you need professional help in LMIA application!

Simply fill our online form and we will contact you to discuss your options!