Intra-Company Transfers

Canada’s International Mobility Program outlines provisions to enable high-skilled foreign nationals to work temporarily in Canada as intra-company transferees. If a foreign national is an employee of a multinational company in a location outside of Canada, they may be eligible to obtain an LMIA-exempt work permit to transfer to one of the company’s locations within Canada. The intra-company transferee rule applies to all countries.

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With a small number of exceptions, all foreign nationals wishing to work in Canada must obtain a Canadian work permit. In most cases, in order to apply for a work permit, a foreign national must be issued a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) from a Canadian employer. The intra-company transfers stream of the International Mobility Program enables foreign nationals to obtain a work permit without an LMIA.

Did you know?

Foreign nationals from many countries are eligible to work in Canada temporarily through International Experience Canada. Learn more about this program and find out if you may be eligible!

In order to qualify for an LMIA-exemption as an intra-company transferee, both the employee and the company have to meet several requirements.

General Requirements for the Employee

  • Must be employed at a multinational company seeking entry to Canada to work at the company’s parent, subsidiary, branch, or affiliate.
  • The enterprise in Canada must have a qualifying relationship as outlined below.
  • The employee must be applying to work in Canada in a position at the executive level, senior managerial level, or in a position requiring specialized knowledge.
  • Must have been employed with the company for at least 1 year (full-time) with the company within the previous 3 years.

Please note that the International Mobility Program utilizes the definitions outlined in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in identifying executive capacity, senior managerial capacity, and specialized knowledge as follows:

Executive Capacity

In order to meet the definition of executive capacity, a position must meet some or all of the following criteria:

  • directs the management of the organization or a major component or function of the organization;
  • establishes the goals and policies of the organization, component, or function;
  • exercises wide latitude in discretionary decision-making; and
  • receives only general supervision or direction from higher level executives, the board of directors, or stockholders of the organization.

Managerial Capacity

In order to meet the definition of managerial capacity, a position must meet some or all of the following criteria:

  • manages the organization, or a department, subdivision, function, or component of the organization;
  • supervises and controls the work of other supervisory, professional, or managerial employees, or manages an essential function within the organization, or a department or subdivision of the organization;
  • has the authority to hire and fire or recommend those, as well as other, personnel actions (such as promotion and leave authorization); if no other employee is directly supervised, functions at a senior level within the organization hierarchy or with respect to the function managed; and
  • exercises discretion over the day-to-day operations of the activity or function for which the employee has the authority.

Specialized Knowledge

In order to meet the definition of specialized knowledge, a position must require both proprietary knowledge and advanced expertise. These are defined through NAFTA as the following:

  • Proprietary Knowledge: “company-specific expertise related to a company’s product or services. It implies that the company has not divulged specifications that would allow other companies to duplicate the product or service.”
  • Advanced Expertise: “specialized knowledge gained through significant (i.e. the longer the experience, the more likely the knowledge is indeed “specialized”) and recent (i.e. within the last 5 years) experience with the organization and used by the individual to contribute significantly to the employer’s productivity.”

General Requirements for the Multinational Company

  • The enterprise outside of Canada and the enterprise inside of Canada must have one of the following relationships: parent, subsidiary, branch, or affiliate.
  • The two enterprises must be doing business. This means that they are regularly and continuously engaging in the provision of goods and services. The mere presence of a location in Canada will not be sufficient to meet this requirement.

If an applicant meets the above-mentioned criteria, they are eligible to submit a work permit application for an LMIA-exempt work permit. Depending on a foreign national’s country of residence and citizenship, work permit applications may be submitted at a Canadian Port of Entry (POE), at the appropriate Visa Application Centre (VAC), and/or online.

Certain countries have developed trade agreements with Canada which offer additional options for Intra-Company Transferees. Foreign nationals from countries covered by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) or Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), may consult those programs for additional options.

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