Owner Operator Program
The Owner-Operator program is one of the pathways for immigration to Canada for business owners and their family members.
If you are the major shareholder of a company in Canada that has a physical location, customers and employees, you are eligible for the Owner-Operator work permit.
What you need to know about the Owner Operator Program
The owner-operator program is a type of work permit issued under Canada’ TFWP (Temporary Foreign Worker Program) instead of being a formal immigration program. There are no defined limits or quota for the number of owner-operator work permits issued each year.
Owner-operator are defined under the TFWP as foreign nationals who own shares in a business in Canada. These nationals are classified as NOC 0 or 00. Canada makes use of the NOC or National Occupational Classification system to categorize occupations or jobs based on the type of work and duties. Skill type or NOC 0 refers to management jobs while NOC 00 denotes senior management occupations.
An owner-operator is not the same as a self-employed person and is not required to be involved in the company’s day-to-day management and operations.
Who is eligible for the program?
To qualify for Work Permit under the Owner-Operator program, the entrepreneur has to hold 50.1 percent of shares in a company in Canada or be the sole proprietor of the company. While this is the minimum requirement, the higher the extent of ownership, the better.
If you are the sole proprietor of a company based in Canada, you can apply for work permit to grow the business.
The main objective behind the Owner-Operator program is to ensure the Canadian economy benefits and that Canadians get employment opportunities. Accordingly, you will need to demonstrate that your business will benefit Canadian economy significantly. Apart from fulfilling the demand for a product or service, your business should create jobs for Canadians.
A key consideration in issuing this type of work permit relates to genuineness and experience of the entrepreneur. The business owner’s prior experience in running a business, that does not have to be a Canadian company necessarily, is indicative of their ability to manage a business in Canada.
Apart from being a majority shareholder in a Canadian business, the foreign investor has to meet the below listed criteria to apply for the Owner-Operator immigration program:
It is important to note that ownership of shares by itself does not guarantee your eligibility for the owner-operator program. The focus here is on the genuine intention of the foreign investor to be actively engaged in managing the business, their prior experience and the business plan that benefits the Canadian economy.
If you have proven expertise and experience in running a business and wish to relocate to a particular city or area in Canada, you can apply for the Owner-Operator program after purchasing a operational business in that location. This is easier than attempting to fulfil the provincial immigration requirements in the specific state or province where you wish to relocate.
The application process involves these steps:
It can take anywhere from two to three months after finding a suitable business in Canada to complete the process of LMIA application. In most jurisdictions, it can take up to three months to get the work permit.
After the first year of running the business in Canada, the entrepreneur can apply for permanent residency in Canada under a relevant program such as provincial nomination or Federal Express Entry programs.
Niyama Immigration has extensive experience in assisting foreign investors and entrepreneurs to apply for the Owner-Operator immigration program. Get in touch with us to apply for the work permit through this route.