Owner Operator LMIA

What is an LMIA?

To understand the Owner Operator LMIA, we must understand what LMIA means in the first place.

Recent studies show that in today’s tight labour market, Canadian Employers are having an increasingly difficult time hiring employees with skills they need. Among the skills needed in Canada, skilled-trade workers have consistently ranked among the top five hardest roles to fill. About half of employers in Canada claim that hiring the right talent is their main challenge.

To address the issue, the Federal Government of Canada, through Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) issues a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) to the Canadian Employers facing labour and skills shortage. An LMIA can be used by a Canadian employer to hire a foreign worker. Canadian employers that show a need for a foreign worker, due to labour shortage amongst Canadian Citizens and Permanent Residents, receive a Positive LMIA , also called a confirmation letter from ESDC.

To obtain a positive LMIA, the Canadian employer usually has to undergo a process to prove that they were not successful in hiring a Canadian citizen or permanent resident and they have no alternative to hiring a foreign worker. They must also prove that hiring a foreign worker won’t have a negative impact on the Canadian economy; such as job loss for Canadian citizens and permanent residents.

LMIA Requirements for the Canadian Employer

The Canadian Employer that needs to obtain an LMIA, must meet the requirements to be eligible for an LMIA. The employer must provide supporting documents to demonstrate that the business and job offer are legitimate. Companies that have never applied for LMIA, must submit documentation proving that the business:

  • Has no compliance issues
  • Can fulfill all of the terms and conditions of the job offer
  • Is providing a good or a service in Canada
  • Is offering employment that is consistent with the needs of the business

There are different types of LMIA that employers can apply for, but first Canadian employers need to assess and determine which LMIA is best suited for them. 

What is an Owner Operator LMIA?

A Owner Operator LMIA is a subcategory of LMIAs issued by the ESDC. As mentioned before under many LMIA types, the Canadian business owner is required to first attempt to advertise and recruit from within Canada, before considering to hire a foreign worker for the position.

Unlike the regular LMIA, the Owner Operator LMIA is exempt from minimum recruiting requirements, therefore the employer is not required to provide proof of advertising and recruitment.

Owner Operator LMIA is often mistakenly presented as an immigration or investment program. Owner-operator LMIA is not technically an official immigration program, that is why the program is not included on the Canadian Federal government’s Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship website.

The Owner-Operator LMIA program is in fact part of a larger process towards a permanent residency application.

Applicants that choose Owner Operator LMIA as a means to obtain permanent resident status, need to deal with two different organizations: Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) and Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). Once the application is submitted, IRCC and ESDC will consider the application as a business owner, rather than a prospective employee.

Requirements for Owner Operator LMIA

Once an applicant comes to the conclusion that the Owner-Operator LMIA is the right path for permanent residency for them, they need to apply for a visitors visa through IRCC, to have the opportunity to visit and assess prospective businesses.

For owner operators to be eligible for permanent residency, must prove that they are the sole proprietor of the business or own a minimum of 50.1% of a total share in the company. In instances that the applicant owns a minimum of 50.1% of a business or company, the remainder of the company can be owned by a Canadian Permanent Resident or Citizen. This requirement limits the number of buyers to one. To prove that, the applicant needs to submit documentation that shows he/she owns controlling interest in the company. Therefore, to qualify for the Owner Operator LMIA, the applicant must demonstrate he or she is a sole proprietor or owns majority shareholder, therefore is safe from being dismissed by someone else in the company.

Although there is no clear indication about the amount of capital needed to be invested in a company, it is important that the business involved in the application will be profitable and will provide financial return enough to support the applicants and his/her family.

Also, the applicant’s work history needs to show executive-level experience in the private or public sector. The applicant must provide an explanation about their role in an executive and leading role in the company as well as a comprehensive business plan that includes financial planning and financing options of the company. The Owner Operators must also have a clear plan to lead the business towards success and create job opportunities for Canadian citizens and permanent residents. This plan needs to be submitted as a proposal by the applicant on his/her vision in helping the business grow and expand.

Once the applicant prepares all the needed documents, they can submit the Owner Operator LMIA application to ESDC. Once ESDC approves an LMIA request, the applicant needs to submit a work permit application to IRCC. The work permit provides the opportunity for the foreign business owner to start running the business and after 1 year, he/she can apply for permanent residency through the federal skilled worker program.

Advantages of Owner Operator LMIA 

As mentioned above, the Owner Operator LMIA is exempt from job advertisement requirements, therefore, the process is not as lengthy and expensive as a regular LMIA. This makes the application process faster and less stressful.

Owner Operator LMIA provides the business owner 200 points, which helps with the immigration application through Canadian Federal Express Entry program. Family members such as spouses and dependent children can accompany the business owner and obtain permanent residency status. The Owner Operator will be granted a closed work permit, which means he or she will only be able to work for that business. The spouse can receive an open work permit, which allows him or her to work for any company that offers them a job. Dependent children will be able to enroll in Canadian schools and universities.

Disadvantages of Owner Operator LMIA

One of the disadvantages facing the Owner-Operator LMIA applicants is a lack of certainty over obtaining permanent residency. Unfortunately, ESDC does not provide any guarantee or assurance that those admitted to this program will also be qualified for permanent residency status. The reason is that, although they are both part of Canadian Federal Government, ESDC And IRCC are two separate entities.

In cases that the request for permanent residency status is rejected, either through IRCC or a hearing, the applicant is left with two choices, either sell the business or assign someone else to run the business on their behalf, as they no longer will be able to be involved in the running of the business directly.

That is why it is important for applicants to understand the details of the process they decide to be a part of, and make sure they are choosing a path that fits their specific needs and abilities.

Start your Owner Operator LMIA with Exilex

Exilex provides a very comprehensive and customized service packages to clients interested in the Owner LMIA application; including but not limited to business plans, complete documentation, the application submission and legal representation.

Other paths for Canadian Business Immigration

  • Ontario Immigration Nominee Program (OINP) – Entrepreneurship
  • Canadian Federal Entrepreneur program
  • Canadian Start-up Visa Program

Other paths for Immigration to Canada

  • Canadian Federal Skilled worker program
  • Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP) – Employer Job Offer – Foreing Worker Stream
  • Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP) – Employer job offer – International Student Stream
  • Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP) – Employer job offer –In-Demand Skills Stream
  • Canadian Atlantic Immigration pilot
  • Canadian Self-employed Program for people in cultural or athletic professions