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Canada’s International Mobility Program outlines provisions to enable high-skilled foreign nationals to work temporarily in Canada as intra-company transferees. If a foreign national is an employee of a multinational company in a location outside of Canada, they may be eligible to obtain an LMIA-exempt work permit to transfer to one of the company’s locations within Canada. The intra-company transferee rule applies to all countries.

With a small number of exceptions, all foreign nationals wishing to work in Canada must obtain a Canadian work permit. In most cases, in order to apply for a work permit, a foreign national must be issued a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) from a Canadian employer. The intra-company transfers stream of the International Mobility Program enables foreign nationals to obtain a work permit without an LMIA.


In order to qualify for an LMIA-exemption as an intra-company transferee, both the employee and the company have to meet several requirements

General Requirements for the Employee

  • Must be employed at a multinational company seeking entry to Canada to work at the company’s parent, subsidiary, branch, or affiliate.

  • The enterprise in Canada must have a qualifying relationship as outlined below.

  • The employee must be applying to work in Canada in a position at the executive levelsenior managerial level, or in a position requiring specialized knowledge.

  • Must have been employed with the company for at least 1 year (full-time) with the company within the previous 3 years.

    Executive Capacity

  • In order to meet the definition of executive capacity, a position must meet some or all of the following criteria:

  • directs the management of the organization or a major component or function of the organization;

  • establishes the goals and policies of the organization, component, or function;

  • exercises wide latitude in discretionary decision-making; and

  • receives only general supervision or direction from higher level executives, the board of directors, or stockholders of the organization.

    Managerial Capacity

  • In order to meet the definition of managerial capacity, a position must meet some or all of the following criteria:

  • manages the organization, or a department, subdivision, function, or component of the organization;

  • supervises and controls the work of other supervisory, professional, or managerial employees, or manages an essential function within the organization, or a department or subdivision of the organization;

  • has the authority to hire and fire or recommend those, as well as other, personnel actions (such as promotion and leave authorization); if no other employee is directly supervised, functions at a senior level within the organization hierarchy or with respect to the function managed; and

  • exercises discretion over the day-to-day operations of the activity or function for which the employee has the authority.

    Specialized Knowledge

  • In order to meet the definition of specialized knowledge, a position must require both proprietary knowledge and advanced expertise. These are defined through NAFTA as the following:

  • Proprietary Knowledge: “company-specific expertise related to a company’s product or services. It implies that the company has not divulged specifications that would allow other companies to duplicate the product or service.”

  • Advanced Expertise: “specialized knowledge gained through significant (i.e. the longer the experience, the more likely the knowledge is indeed “specialized”) and recent (i.e. within the last 5 years) experience with the organization and used by the individual to contribute significantly to the employer’s productivity.”

    General Requirements for the Multinational Company

  • The enterprise outside of Canada and the enterprise inside of Canada must have one of the following relationships: parent, subsidiary, branch, or affiliate.

  • The two enterprises must be doing business. This means that they are regularly and continuously engaging in the provision of goods and services. The mere presence of a location in Canada will not be sufficient to meet this requirement.

  • If an applicant meets the above-mentioned criteria, they are eligible to submit a work permit application for an LMIA-exempt work permit. Depending on a foreign national’s country of residence and citizenship, work permit applications may be submitted at a Canadian Port of Entry (POE), at the appropriate Visa Application Centre (VAC), and/or online.

  • Certain countries have developed trade agreements with Canada which offer additional options for Intra-Company Transferees. Foreign nationals from countries covered by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) or Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), may consult those programs for additional options.


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