International businesses have the option to bring important employees to Canada through the Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) program. The ICT program allows qualified employees to be transferred, on a temporary basis, from an international post to a Canadian-based entity. Through this program, both businesses and the Canadian labour market as a whole are able to benefit from the skills and expertise that these transferees bring to the country.
The Intra-Company Transfer Program
The Canadian government has created special programs for temporary foreign workers whose presence in Canada will amount to “significant benefit” for the country’s economy. The ICT program is one of the most popular of these programs. The Canadian entity to which an employee is transferred must be a parent company, branch, subsidiary, or affiliate of their company abroad.
The ICT program is of particular appeal to businesses because it allows them to bring in trusted employees without securing a Labour Market Opinion. Normally, a Labour Market Opinion is required to employ a foreign worker in Canada. By bypassing this requirement, businesses are able to save crucial time, energy, and funds bringing important personnel to Canada.
Though a Labour Market Opinion is not required, Intra-Company Transferees must still obtain a Temporary Work Permit to perform work in Canada. Depending on their nationality, they may also have to obtain a Temporary Residence Visa before entering the country. All workers, regardless of nationality, must be deemed admissible to Canada on the basis of health and security/criminality.
There are three main streams of the ICT program:
• Executive: An individual who occupies a senior post in their organization, who directs the overall management or an important component of the organization;
• Managerial: An individual who manages all or part of the organization, and whose job includes significant supervision of others;
• Specialized Knowledge: An employee who, through their work, has gained a specialized or advanced level of knowledge in the organization. This knowledge, while not necessarily proprietary, should be very uncommon in the general labour market
There are additional guidelines in place for ICTs traveling to Canada to assist in the start-up of a Canadian branch, subsidiary, or affiliate of their internationally-based business. These guidelines will be explained in the next mid-month edition of CIC News.
Benefits of the ICT Program
There are several reasons that businesses choose to pursue an Intra-Company Transfer over other temporary work permit programs.
Faster Application Time – As mentioned above, an ICT application does not require a Labour Market Opinion. Service Canada offices generally take anywhere from 1 to well over 3 months to process a request for a Labour Market Opinion. This does not include the time taken to prepare the request. During these months, the foreign worker would not be able to perform work in Canada, which could potentially result in great losses for the business.
Because many ICT applications are made in a situation where time is of the essence, the waiving of Labour Market Opinion requirements helps businesses to bring in their important employees in a faster and more straightforward manner.
Longer Work Permits – Intra-company transferees have the option to be issued work permits for a longer period of time than standard temporary foreign workers. Standard work permits are issued for up to 4 years. ICT work permits can be issued for up to 5 years (for Specialized Knowledge workers) or 7 years (for Executive and Senior Managerial workers).
Stepping Stone to Permanent Residency – If the company wishes their employee to remain at the Canadian post indefinitely, temporary residence achieved through the ICT program can be leveraged in a future application for Canadian Permanent Residency.
International organizations can pursue an ICT application for one or more individuals at a time. The Government of Canada recognizes the value that important employees add not only to a Canadian company, but to the overall Canadian labour market, thus ensuring that the program will remain a popular option for achieving Canadian work permits.
If you would like to learn more about the Intra-Company Transfer program, or find out if your business/employee is eligible to apply, please contact us today.