This work permit is designed to facilitate the transfer of employees from a foreign-based company to its related Canadian branch or office. Another primary benefit of this type of work permit is that in most cases the applicant will be entitled to have their spouse accompany them on an open work permit.
If you work for a company that has parent or subsidiary offices, branches, or affiliations in Canada you may be able to obtain a Canadian work permit through the Intra-Company Transfer program. Your employer may be able to help you gain employment in Canada or even permanent residence (PR).
Intra-Company Transfer is an option under the International Mobility Program program. IMP provides the opportunity for executive, managerial and specialized knowledge employees of a company to be able to work in Canada temporarily, as intra-company transferees. Companies must have locations within Canada to apply for the International Mobility Program and offer intra-company transfers to their employees.
A Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) is usually required for a Canadian employer to hire a temporary foreign worker. A few exceptions are international agreements, Canadian interests and some other specified LMIA exceptions, like humanitarian and compassionate reasons. An intra-company transfer is an LMIA-exempt work permit. Employers bringing foreign staff to Canada as intra-company transferees are exempt from the requirement to obtain an LMIA.
Eligible intra-company transferees provide a significant economic advantage to Canada through the transfer of their technical knowledge, skills, and expertise to the Canadian labour market.
Who can Apply?
Intra-company transferees may apply for work permits providing they:
- are currently employed by a multi-national company and seeking entry to work in a Canadian parent, subsidiary, branch, or affiliate of that company
- are transferring to an enterprise that has a qualifying relationship with the multi-national company in which they are currently employed, and will be undertaking employment at a legitimate and continuing establishment of that company (18–24 months is a reasonable minimum timeframe)
- are being transferred to a position in an executive, senior managerial, or specialized knowledge capacity
- have been employed continuously with the company for at least 1 year full-time (not accumulated part-time), within the preceding 3 years
- are coming to Canada for a temporary period only
- comply with all immigration requirements for temporary entry into Canada
The International Mobility Program (IMP) utilizes the definitions outlined in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in identifying executive, senior managerial capacity, and specialized knowledge capacity.
Executive Capacity, according to NAFTA definition 4.5, refers to a position in which the employee:
- 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
- receives only general supervision or direction from higher-level executives, the board of directors, or the organizations’ stockholders
An executive does not generally perform duties necessary in the production of the company’s products or the delivery of its services. They are primarily responsible for the managerial activities of the company daily. Executives only receive supervision from other executives at a higher level.
Managerial Capacity, according to NAFTA definition 4.6, refers to a position in which the employee:
- 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 others, personnel actions such as promotion and authorizations of leave; if no other employee is directly supervised, functions at a senior level within the organizational hierarchy or concerning the function managed
- exercises discretion over the day-to-day operations of the activity or function for which the employee has the authority
A manager does not generally perform duties necessary in the production of the company’s products or in the delivery of its services. Senior managers supervise all aspects of the company or the work of other managers who work directly under them.
Specialized Knowledge Workers, according to NAFTA definition 4.7, refers to positions in which the position requires both proprietary knowledge and advanced expertise. Proprietary knowledge alone, or advanced expertise alone, does not qualify the applicant.
Proprietary knowledge involves company-specific expertise related to the company’s product or services, and this implies that the company has not divulged specifications that would allow other companies to duplicate the company’s products or services. Advanced proprietary knowledge would require the applicant to demonstrate an uncommon knowledge of the company’s products and services, and its application in the Canadian market.
In addition, an advanced level of expertise is required, involving specialized knowledge gained through significant and recent experience with the organization, used by the applicant to contribute significantly to the employer’s productivity. IRCC considers specialized knowledge to be knowledge that is unique and uncommon, held by only a small percentage of employees of a given firm.
Applicants must submit evidence that they meet the Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) standard for specialized knowledge, submitted with a detailed description of the work to be performed in Canada. Documentary evidence may include a resume, reference letters or a letter of support from the company. Job descriptions that outline the level of training acquired, years of experience in the field and degrees or certifications obtained help demonstrate the level of specialized knowledge. Where applicable, a list of publications and awards add weight to the application.
ICT Specialized Knowledge workers must be employed by, or under the direct and continuous supervision of, the host company.
Requirements for an Intra-Company Transfer to Canada
As an employee, to qualify for ICT, certain requirements must be met. You must:
- be currently employed by a company or organization which has at least an operating branch or affiliations in Canada
- be able to maintain legitimate employment with that company even after your transfer to Canada
- be transferred to work in positions that require executive or managerial positions, or specialized knowledge
- provide proof, such as payroll, of your previous employment and relationship with the company for at least one year
- affirm that you are going to be in Canada only for a temporary period
There are unique requirements, where the Canadian branch of the company is a start-up. The company will not be eligible for intra-company transfers unless it has secured a physical location for the new branch, has established a stable structure for employing workers into the company, and is financially and functionally able to begin the company’s activities and pay its employees.
Documents Required for an Intra-Company Transfer Application
If you have been selected by your company for intra-company transfer, you will be required to submit the following documents:
- payroll or other documents that prove you are currently employed full-time by the company, even though in a branch outside of Canada, and that employment has been ongoing for at least a year before the company applied for the intra-company transfer program
- proof that you are seeking to work in Canada under the same company, and in the same position or similar position to that, you held in your current country
- documentation that verifies your current position as an executive or manager, or a specialized knowledge worker in your most immediate employment with the company; with your position, title, ranking in the organization and job description
- proof of the intended duration of your work in Canada with the company
Work Permit Duration and Intra-Company Transfers
The initial work permits the IRCC issues an intra-company transferee expire in a year. Your company can apply for a renewal of your work permit. Renewals of work permits for intra-company transferees will only be granted when certain conditions have been met:
- there is still proof of a continuing mutual relationship between you and the company
- the Canadian branch of the company can demonstrate it was functional, by providing goods or services for consumption over the past year
- the Canadian branch of the company has employed adequate staff and has paid them as agreed
Renewing work permits each year can be a nuisance, and many foreign employees apply for permanent residence in Canada.
Transition of Intra-Company Transfers to Canadian Permanent Residence (PR)
Intra-Company Transfers provide foreign employees with the opportunity to demonstrate their value in the Canadian job market, and they have a high chance of becoming permanent residents of Canada. Permanent residence enables them to settle and work in any location in Canada. There are two pathways through which an Intra-company transferee can transition to permanent resident status: Express Entry and the Provincial Nominee Program.
Express Entry has become the most significant pathway for intra-company transferees to immigrate to Canada, for economic or business reasons. The IRCC upgraded the Express Entry system and allows workers to acquire Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) points without having LMIA. This significant change has made it easier for intra-company transferees to increase their CRS scores. Higher CRS scores improve your chances of getting an Invitation to Apply for Permanent Residence (PR) in Canada.
Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) is an immigration process through which residents of provinces in Canada can nominate people who are willing to become workers and permanent residents in that province. Each of the provinces in Canada and its two territories has a unique PNP, as per their needs, except Quebec, which has its own system of selection.
Some provinces accept nominations of individuals recommended by their employers. The employer must be able to prove the nominee’s competency, eligibility and ability in contributing to the economy of Canada.
International Mobility Program: North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)