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Program description​

In order to allow foreigners to own and operate a business in Canada, the government provides a document called an “Owner-Operator Labour Market Impact Assessment”. When this document is issued, it means that the Canadian economy will benefit from having a business in operation that is owned by a foreigner.  The Owner-Operator LMIA will allow a work permit to be approved and will give additional points for the Express Entry program to apply for permanent residency.


When you have a business idea that you’d like to implement in Canada or if you are interested in purchasing and operating a business in Canada, you can request an Owner Operator LMIA, received a work permit to operate your business in Canada and apply for permanent residency if you wish to live in Canada on a long-term basis.

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Minimum requirements to be eligible for the program:

In order to qualify for the Owner Operator LMIA program, the following must be proven:



You must show that you have several years of business management experience. Although there is no specific number of years that must be shown, it is desirable to show at least 3 years of work experience either as owner of your own business or having had a position of high management in another business.



You do not need any minimum education for this program. This means that you can have an Owner Operator LMIA and a work permit without showing any specific education. However, the more education you have, the more points you gain in the Express Entry program should you be interested in applying for permanent residency. In this case, we highly recommend that you have at least 1 year of post-secondary education. A bachelor’s degree or more will be even better.



Age is not a factor in getting an Owner Operator LMIA nor a work permit. However, if you want to apply for permanent residency, age will affect your points. The age that receives a majority of point (110 points) is between 20 to 29 years old. You start to lose points at age 30 and after the age of 44, you no longer can receive points for age. This is why it is best to have a post-secondary education, so you can compensate for the points lost in age.




Canada’s official languages are English and French. Although to receive the Owner Operator LMIA and the work permit, you probably only need an intermediate level in any of these two languages, we recommend that you continue to improve your language skills to reach an advanced level in order to increase your chances at being selected in the Express Entry program for permanent residency. You will need to choose one of these two languages (your strongest one) to pass an official test. 
For English testing: IELTS GENERAL or CELPIP
For French testing: TEF 



Canada wants to have a dynamic, innovative economy that provides stable jobs. If you choose to start your own business from scratch, the business idea you will present in this program should have a certain degree of novelty so it is easy to show the aggregated value your business will bring to the Canadian industries it is involved in. Alternatively, if you will purchase a business that already exists, it should also have a positive impact on the economy. An important aspect to consider is that the business should be able to grow and scale. You should have plans to hire employees who are Canadian citizens or permanent residents.

• Your spouse has a university degree from any country 
• Your spouse has one year of full-time work in Canada
• You or your spouse completed a 2 years’ program of study in Canada
• You or your spouse have a family member who is a Canadian Citizen or permanent resident (parent, grand-parent, child, grand-child, sibling, uncle, aunt, niece, nephew) 



While the Owner Operator LMIA program does not have a set amount of money required, you will need to show that you have enough funds to immigrate to Canada. You will need to show proof of funds for two aspects of life: to cover for personal expenses and business expenses. For your personal expenses, this will depend on your family size. The government of Canada establishes the minimum settlement funds required based on your family size and it increases a little bit every year in January. As a single person, it is approximately $13 000 CAD, for a couple, it is just over $16 100 CAD and for a family of 4 it is just above $24 000 CAD. Please refer to the hyperlink above to see the updated and accurate full chart published by the government. For your business expenses, you will work together with our team at North Horizon Immigration Consulting while we build the business plan for your project in Canada and we will establish a realistic amount required for a successful execution of your plan. This will be based on your specific project and the community where you will live. If you will purchase a business in Canada that already exists, you need enough money to purchase the business and add your own capital to suggest enhancements to the business. For example, you may purchase a business that costs $175 000 CAD and in addition to this, you will invest an extra $40 000 CAD to expand the business operations, hire new staff, develop new technology, etc. 



Depending on the country you are from, when you apply for the work permit you and your family will have to pass the Canadian Immigration Medical exam and provide your police certificates from all the countries where you have lived for 6 months or more since you are 18 years old. This will be mandatory for everyone who wishes to apply for permanent residency.

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Application type

Work permit to operate a business followed by Permanent Residency

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Eligible Countries


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Timeline from application sent to PR status

2 years processing

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Level of English/French required


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Level of Education

1-year post-secondary education or more

The Application Process


Once we have identified that you qualify for this program, there will be 3 general phases to the application process:


This is when you provide your business idea to Services Canada, the government agency who will review your idea and subjectively decide if you will contribute positively to the Canadian economy and labour market. 


This is when you request a work permit for yourself and permits for you family to move to Canada and start operating your business. This can be done after receiving your Owner Operator LMIA. 


The Owner Operator LMIA will provide you with points that will be added to the other points you accumulate through age education, work experience, and language skills. If your points are high enough to be invited by Immigration Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), we will prepare a permanent residency application for yourself and your family.


The timeline for this entire process can vary depending on factors such as: the processing times for the Owner Operator LMIA, the processing times of the office that will issue your work permit and the processing times to get your permanent residency. In total, the process usually takes about 2 years from beginning to end. 


The North Horizon Immigration team will assist you in preparing the most compelling application to properly describe how your business project will enhance the Canadian economy and labour market to receive your Owner Operator LMIA. We will also prepare your work permit application and permanent residency application. We will assist you along the way to maximizes your chances of success in Canada. 


The services we offer include:

Prepare a Business Exploratory Trip to Canada (when possible, after COVID19)

Coach you on how to keep track of important administrative aspects of your project in Canada including: Bookkeeping - Tax obligations - Human Resources -

- Busines license registrations - Bank account opening

Connect you with a network of professionals required for your success such as: Accountants - Corporate lawyers - Marketing experts - Web designers

 We will also review your family members’ immigration status to ensure they will also be involved during the process

Assess your profile for eligibility in the program

Prepare the Business Plan for your project in Canada

Prepare the LMIA application 

 Research your industry of choice in Canada to assess the contributions you will be making

If you feel like this immigration program fits your lifestyle and career goals, we invite you to book a consultation with our regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant, Rita Benkhalti, and start your project today!