Entrepreneur Work Permit

Entrepreneur Work Permit

C11 Work Permit—LMIA-Exempt Route for an Entrepreneur to Manage Own Business in Canada

For individuals who wish to immigrate to Canada as entrepreneurs the C11 work permit is an LMIA-exempt work permit for individuals seeking to operate a business in Canada.

  • Setup an active business in Canada with at least 50 percent ownership
  • As the owner of the business, issue yourself a job offer to work for the business as its employee.
  • Apply for the work permit on basis of this job offer
  • Enter and work in Canada after your work permit is approved.

Eligibility for the C11 Work Permit

Not every business owner can qualify for this work permit. To qualify, you must

  • Have skills, background, and experience to either setup a successful business in Canada or takeover an existing business and manage it successfully.
  • Own at least 50 percent or higher stake in your business.
  • Proof that they meet the temporary requirement of subsection A22(2), that they will leave Canada at the end of the period authorized for their stay.
  • Prove that your admission into Canada will result in significant economic, social or cultural benefits or opportunities for Canadian citizens or permanent residents. This requirement is essential when assessing the ‘Significant Benefit’ parameter. Some points that are considered include the following:
    • Is your business plan a viable one and will it benefit Canadians? Does business viability improve because of your skills and background?
    • Will it create jobs for Canadians?
    • Will it lead to regional development and/or higher exports from Canada?
    • Will your business help introduce new technology or innovative measures that will improve skills of Canadians?
    • What steps have been taken to put business plan into action such as lease agreements, staffing plans, registering business?

Advantages of the C11 Work Permit

You may enter Canada on a work permit but you will continue to be a business owner and will be relying on your entrepreneurial skills to earn more profits in Canada. You will be the employee of your business, which one year of work experience will make you eligible for an Express Entry application for permanent residence. Once you become a permanent resident, you can continue with working as an employee or a business owner without issues.

C11 Work Permit—Legal Formalities

Setting up a new business or taking over an existing business in a foreign country can be an extremely complicated process. Further, you need to keep an eye on the ‘Significant Benefit’ parameter throughout the process.

Once the Canadian business is setup, you will issue an LMIA-exempt offer of employment to yourself. Since you are your own employer, you or your business will have to pay the employer compliance fee.

Then you, as the employee, will apply for the work permit and enter Canada after qualifying for the same. This will involve proving that your business can afford to pay enough to help you provide for yourself and your family members in Canada.

There are numerous business-related and immigration-related procedures and formalities involved, which means you will definitely need professional immigration assistance throughout. Further, your business will have to comply with various rules and regulations applicable to employers of foreign workers.

Factors in considering “significant benefit”

Foreign nationals applying to work for themselves or to operate their own business on a temporary basis must demonstrate that their admission to Canada to operate their business would generate significant economic, social or cultural benefits or opportunities for Canadian citizens or permanent residents pursuant to paragraph R205(a). Benefits to Canadian clients of a self-employed worker may be considered in this case, particularly if the worker is providing a unique service. If the applicant intends to start or buy a business and eventually stay in Canada on a permanent basis, officers should encourage the applicant to apply for permanent residence.

  • Is the work likely to create a viable business that will benefit Canadian or permanent resident workers?
  • Will the work stimulate the Canadian economy?
  • Does the applicant have a particular background or skill that will improve the viability of the business?
  • Is there a business plan that clearly shows that the applicant has taken steps to initiate their business?
  • Has the applicant taken some measure to put the business plan in action (showing evidence of having the financial ability to begin the business and pay expenditures, renting space, having a staffing plan, obtaining a business number, showing ownership documents or agreements, etc.)?

Indicators of “significant benefit” include

  • general economic stimulus (such as job creation, development in a regional or remote setting or expansion of export markets for Canadian products and services);
  • advancement of the Canadian industry (such as technological development, product or service innovation or differentiation or opportunities for improving the skills of Canadians).

In cases where significant benefit is being argued, the applicant may provide information up front (or be requested to provide it) from organizations in Canada that can support the application. For example, if an applicant wishes to be self-employed in the tourism industry, officers could request that the applicant provide further submissions from the provincial tourism authority to assist in determining whether the activity would be beneficial or actually impinge on Canadian service providers.

Degree of ownership

The issuance of work permits for entrepreneurs should be considered only when the applicant controls at least 50% of the business in question.

Where an individual is a partial owner with a slightly smaller stake and is coming to work in the business, they are required to apply for a work permit as an employee (rather than as an entrepreneur or self-employed person) and may therefore require a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).

If there are multiple owners, only one owner is generally eligible for a work permit pursuant to paragraph R205(a), unless exceptional circumstances can be demonstrated. While Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) does not want to discourage investment in Canada, these guidelines are intended to prevent the transfer of minority shares solely for the purpose of obtaining a work permit.


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