Owner Operator LMIA
Owner Operator LMIA is a special class of applications within the TFWP whereby a self-
employed individual wishing to enter Canada can do so by purchasing or establishing a
business. A foreign national would be considered to be an Owner-Operator if they establish that
they have a controlling interest in the business and cannot be fired/dismissed (only answerable to
themselves). Controlling interest according to guidelines and policy can be established by either:
purchasing a business and be involved in its day-to-day operations (being a sole proprietor), by
being the majority shareholder (least 50.1% total shares) or by providing an official document
confirming that they hold the majority interest (even if they don’t hold 50.1% of total shares).
There is no minimum specified percentage of shares to be held by a foreign national to be
considered an Owner-Operator. In cases, where there are multiple owners of a business, the
largest shareholder or the equal shareholder designated as the “employer” must apply for LMIAs
to Service Canada for the other co-owners as “workers”.
Individuals who only receive shares (less than to establish the controlling interest) as part of a compensation package are not subject to the term Owner-Operator. The foreign nationals must demonstrate that they have the controlling interest prior to submitting their application and for the duration of their employment in Canada.
The Owner-Operated LMIA stream is a suitable option to facilitate admission to Canada as a foreign worker which can become a path to permanent residency at a later stage. Although the application and assessment process can be rigorous (as there are specific guidelines on the minimum level of investment required or the relevant business experience that the applicant should demonstrate to be approved), if the project is genuine and a comprehensive business plan is submitted, the issuance of a positive LMIA and work permit to a foreign national is a possibility given the high approval rate of LMIA applications in general. The future looks promising as under Citizenship and Immigration Canada‘s (CIC) 2018 Immigration Plan (from now to 2020), about 565,000 newcomers will be admitted through Canada’s economic immigration programs including Express Entry and Provincial Nominee Programs