Intra-Company Transferees and Start-Ups

Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada’s (“IRCC“) International Mobility Program provides that a foreign worker may be issued a work permit without the employer needing a Labour Market Impact Assessment if the employee meets the requirements of the Intra-Company Transferees (“ICT“) program.

Although some free trade agreements contain specific requirements, the general ICT rules applicable to citizens of all countries are that ICTs must:

  • be currently employed by a multi-national company and be seeking entry to work in a parent, a subsidiary, a branch, or an affiliate of that enterprise;
  • be transferring to an enterprise that has a qualifying relationship with the enterprise in which they are currently employed, and will be undertaking employment at a legitimate and continuing establishment of that company (where 18–24 months can be used as a reasonable minimum guideline);
  • be being transferred to a position in an executive, senior managerial, or specialized knowledge capacity;
  • have been employed continuously (via payroll or by contract directly with the company), by the company that plans to transfer them outside Canada in a similar full-time position (not accumulated part-time) for at least one year in the three-year period immediately preceding the date of initial application; and
  • be coming to Canada for a temporary period only.

Applicants who have not had full-time work experience with the foreign company may still be approved based on an assessment of several factors, including the number of years of work experience with the foreign company, the similarity of the positions, the extent of any part-time positions with the foreign company, and, most importantly, whether there appears to be an abuse of the ICT provisions.


There are additional requirements for multi-national corporations seeking to establish operations in Canada.  When applying for an ICT Start-Up visa, applicants must demonstrate their company’s ability to become established in Canada.

Generally, the company must have secured physical premises to house the Canadian operation.  However, where the foreign worker will be an executive or senior manager, then the company may use its counsel’s address until the foreign worker can purchase or lease a premise.

The company must show that:

  • they have realistic plans to staff the new operation;
  • they have the financial ability to commence business in Canada and compensate employees.
  • in the case where managers are being transferred, that they are large enough to support several managerial or executive functions; and
  • where the transferring entity is a specialized knowledge employee, that the work is being guided and directed by a manager.

Work permits for start-ups are typically one-year, although it is not uncommon for officers to issue work permits valid for three-years where the officer is more than convinced that the operations in Canada will be successful.

I have reproduced below two examples of where CIC approved ICT applications for start-up ventures. I note that these are not my applications, as it is not my practice to post my own cases on this blog. Rather, these examples were obtained through an Access to Information Act request.





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