How can I obtain a Canadian work permit as an Intra-Company Transfer?

Vimal Sivakumar
Published: October 25, 2023

Foreign nationals who are being temporarily transferred to work for their international employer’s Canadian branch, parent company, subsidiary, or affiliate may be eligible for an Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) work permit.

Understanding the ICT program

On a basic level, there are two important things to remember about the ICT program prior to pursuing a work permit through this pathway.

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1. Work permits in this program are exempt from needing a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). This means that employers who are looking to transfer an eligible employee to Canada do not need to go through the process of verifying that the foreign national’s hire will either have a neutral or positive impact on Canada’s labour market.

Note: LMIAs are employer-sought documents that assess the proposed hiring of a foreign national into Canada as a means of ensuring that the hire will not have a negative impact on the nationwide labour force.

2. The nature of the applicant’s work in Canada must be deemed “managerial, executive, or involving specialized knowledge” for the individual to be eligible under the ICT program

Canada defines jobs that are “managerial, executive or involving specialized knowledge” as follows:

Managerial positions are divided into two sub-genres (senior and functional).

  • Senior Managers: “Employees who manage all or part of the enterprise and supervise/control the work of other managers or professional employees"
  • Functional Managers: Employees who manage a particular function that is essential to achieving the company’s goals, but they do not necessarily manage employees

Executive positions are those where an employee is primarily tasked with directing the management of either an entire corporation or a major part of it.

Positions involving specialized knowledge are qualified as jobs done by employees with “knowledge at an advanced level of expertise and proprietary knowledge of the enterprise's products, services, processes and procedures”.

Who is eligible for an ICT work permit?

In order to be eligible for an ICT work permit, applicants must meet criteria at several levels. In other words, as outlined below, the ICT program has unique eligibility requirements for employees, established companies and start-ups.

Note: “Established” is only used to differentiate these companies from newer start-ups, which have their own eligibility criteria

Employee eligibility for an ICT work permit

Employees seeking an ICT work permit must:

  • Be currently employed at a foreign multi-national company (MNC) that is looking to transfer foreign employees to Canada
  • Be transferred to a Canadian company that is either a branch, parent company, subsidiary, or affiliate of their foreign employer
  • Be undertaking employment at a legitimate and continuing establishment of the company in Canada
  • Be compliant with all temporary entry requirements established for immigration to Canada
  • Have worked full-time for a minimum of one continuous year (in the last three years) in a role that is comparable to the position they will be undertaking in Canada

In certain situations, the full-time work and “one continuous year” of employment criterion above may not apply. Specifically, ICT work permit applicants may be exempt from this requirement if:

A. The employee worked part-time for their foreign MNC, in which case Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) may consider other factors including:

  • The number of years an employee has worked at their MNC
  • The comparability of their foreign position to the one they will occupy in Canada
  • The extent of the part-time position
  • Whether the company applying for the ICT work permit looks to be abusing the purpose of the program

B. There has been a recent corporate acquisition or merger related to the foreign MNC. In this case, the “one continuous year” of employment criterion can be bypassed if the employee has worked for one of the new corporation’s affiliates for at least one year in the previous three years.

Note: The resulting corporation (from the acquisition or merger) is responsible, to be eligible for an ICT work permit, for showcasing that it has assumed the interests, obligations, assets, and liabilities of the original company and continues to operate the same type of business.

Eligibility for an ICT work permit as an established company

Established companies seeking an ICT work permit must:

  • Be a foreign MNC with a Canadian company, subsidiary, branch, or affiliate
  • Be sending the foreign national employee to a company that is operational in Canada (rather than simply having a physical location in the country)
  • Be presently conducting business — providing goods and services to one another on an ongoing basis — with the Canadian company that is receiving the ICT work permit applicant

Eligibility for an ICT work permit as a start-up

The following criteria apply to foreign MNCs bringing employees to Canada with the aim of establishing a new business in this country. Start-up ICT work permits are given to organizations capable of proving their capacity to establish themselves in Canada.

The start-up applying for an ICT work permit must:

  • Showcase the ability to financially support the start-up costs of the organization, including employee compensation
  • Provide a business plan that outlines how the organization will handle staffing and doing business in Canada
  • Prove that a physical location for the start-up has been secured (or is actively being pursued)
  • Demonstrate that the company’s size will be sufficient to support the functions of the employees transferring to Canada
  • Showcase that the company expects to be doing business and that Canadian management will be responsible for directing the work conducted inside Canadian borders

Note: If successful, ICT work permit applicants under the start-up portion of the program will receive a one-year temporary work permit. There is the possibility of renewal for these permits if the start-up maintains a qualifying relationship with a Canadian entity and continues to actively do business in Canada. The new Canadian operations must also have been staffed.

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