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I want to set up a branch office in Canada and bring in workers from my foreign entity. How can I do this? Intracompany Transferee (ICT) Work Permit.

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Companies with a corporate presence in both Canada and a foreign country benefit from a streamlined process to bring in employees from their foreign entity to their Canadian office through an intracompany transferee work permit, which is exempt from the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).

To be eligible, the Company and employee must meet the following requirements:

1. Canadian company and foreign company must have qualifying relationship

The employee must be currently employed by a company outside Canada, and is seeking to enter Canada to work for a parent, subsidiary, branch, or affiliate of that enterprise in Canada.

In other words, the relationship between the Canadian company where the employee will be transferred to, and the foreign company where the employee is currently working, must be a parent-subsidiary, branch, or affiliate corporate relationship. Affiliate relationship can be demonstrated where the two enterprises are subject to common control (ownership).

2. Employee must have worked at least 1 year for the foreign entity

The employee (foreign worker) must have worked at the employer’s foreign affiliate entity for at least 1 continuous year, in a similar full-time position, within the past 3 years. The employee must also be currently employed by that foreign entity.

3. Qualifying job positions

Not all classes of employees can be transferred using the ICT work permit; the position must fall under one of the three categories, “executive,” “managerial,” or “specialized knowledge” positions.

  • Executive positions – direct the management of the organization or a major component or function thereof, establishes the goals and policies of the organization, exercises wide latitude in decisionmaking, and receives only general supervision from other executives or board of directors/stockholders.
  • Managerial positions – manages an organization or its component/subdivisions. Supervises the work of other employees and exercises authority to hire and fire, or manages an essential function of the organization.
  • Specialized knowledge – the worker must possess both “knowledge at an advanced level or expertise” and “proprietary knowledge of the company’s product, service, research, equipment, techniques or management.” Please see here for a more detailed analysis on what this means.

“New Office” Intracompany Transferee Work Permit

It is possible to use the intracompany transferee work permit to transfer an employee to establish a new Canadian office. Companies must show realistic plans to staff the new operation within 1 year, have the financial ability to start the Canadian business and to compensate employees, and must prove that the Canadian business will be large enough to support an executive or managerial function within the year.

In such cases involving start-ups, the initial work permit is granted for 1 year. For renewals, the company should provide evidence of continuing corporate relationship between the Canadian and foreign entities, that the new Canadian entity has engaged in the continuous provision of goods or services in the past year, and that the Canadian entity has been staffed.

2-week Priority Processing for high-skilled occupations

As part of Canada’s Global Skills Strategy (GSS) program implemented in 2017, certain applicants for intracompany transferee work permits applying from outside Canada can benefit from priority processing with a standard response time of 2 weeks.

For an intracompany transferee work permit application to qualify for Priority Processing, the following requirements must be met:

• The applicant must be applying outside Canada;
• The offered position must be a TEER 0 or TEER 1 occupation;
• The applicant must have applied online;
• The applicant must submit their medical examination upfront, where required;
• The applicant must give biometrics (photo and fingerprints) within 2 weeks of the date of application.

There is no additional fee required for priority processing. Applicants meeting the above criteria will automatically benefit from faster processing.

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