Understanding the Intra-Company Transfer Program Pathway for Obtaining a Canadian Work Permit

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Canada offers various ways to obtain a work permit for foreign nationals wishing to work in this country.

One of the programs that exist in Canada is called the Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) Program.

This program is for individuals who, as the name of the program suggests, have been temporarily transferred to work for a Canadian branch, parent company, subsidiary, or affiliate of their foreign employer.

Basics of ICT Program

Foreign nationals seeking to obtain a work permit through this program must bear in mind some basic requirements:

  • Work permits in this program are exempt from the Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) requirement
  • The nature of the applicant’s work in Canada must be considered “managerial, executive, or involve specialized knowledge” to be eligible under this category

Related to the last bullet in the list above, Canada defines jobs that “involve managerial, executive or specialized knowledge” as follows.

Managerial positions are divided into two subgenres: senior and functional.

  • Senior manager: “employee who manages all or part of the enterprise and supervises/controls the work of other managers or professional staff”
  • Functional managers: Employees who manage a specific task that is necessary to achieve company goals, but do not necessarily manage employees.

Executive positions are defined as positions in which an employee’s responsibilities primarily consist of directing the management of an entire enterprise or a substantial portion of it.

Employees who occupy a position that involves specialized knowledge have “an advanced level of expertise and proprietary knowledge about the enterprise’s products, services, processes and procedures”.

ICT Eligibility Criteria

The following subheadings will now break down the different sets of eligibility criteria that exist within the ICT programme.

ICT competency for employees

To immigrate to Canada as an inter-company transfer, employees must:

  • Currently employed with a foreign Multi-National Company (MNC) looking to relocate foreign workers to Canada
  • Must be transferred to a company that has a qualifying relationship with the company in which they are currently employed
  • Undertake employment at a legal and continuing establishment of the company in Canada
  • Comply with all immigration to Canada requirements for temporary entry
  • Have worked continuously full-time for at least one year (out of the last three) in a comparable position to the one they occupy in Canada

Some exceptions exist as it relates to the last bullet point in the above list. Those exceptions include:

  • If the employee works part-time instead of full-time for the foreign MNC, the IRCC may consider other factors such as the number of years of working with the foreign company, the similarity of the position with the one in Canada, the extent of part-time status, and Are there indications that the company intends to abuse the purpose of the ICT work permit
  • If there has been a recent corporate acquisition or merger involving a foreign MNC, it is not necessary for the employee to have worked for the company for one year, provided the employee has worked in associate companies for at least one year in the preceding three years. Have worked for one of the years. The successor entity must demonstrate that it has assumed the interests, obligations, assets and liabilities of the parent company and continues to conduct business in the same manner as the parent company.

ICT eligibility for companies

Following are the eligibility criteria for a standard company relocating employees to Canada as part of an ICT program.

  • The foreign multinational company seeking a work permit through the ICT program must have a parent company, subsidiary, branch or affiliate relationship with the Canadian organization.
  • The company receiving the foreign national employee must be operating in Canada rather than only having a physical location in Canada
  • The Canadian company and the foreign multinational company must be currently doing business

Note: “carrying on business” is defined as providing goods and services to each other on an ongoing basis

ICT Competence for Start-ups

Beyond the eligibility criteria for standard companies, the ICT program has different stipulations for foreign companies aiming to set up a new business in Canada and bringing significant workforce to the country.

Successful ICT start-up applicants are granted a one-year temporary work permit. These permits can be renewed if the company maintains a qualifying relationship with a Canadian entity and continues to actively do business within the country. The new Canadian operation must also have employees.

ICT work permits for start-up companies are awarded to companies that can demonstrate their ability to establish themselves in Canada. Demonstration of this ability includes:

  • Providing evidence that the company can financially support the start-up costs of operations, including the ability to compensate employees
  • Creating a business plan that outlines the new operations and plans for the staff to do business in Canada
  • Providing evidence that a physical location has been secured (or the company is in the process of securing a physical location for the organization)
  • Demonstrate that the company will be large enough to support the functions of the officers and/or managers relocating to Canada
  • showing that the company expects to do business and proving that Canadian management will actually direct the work that is being done within the country

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