International Mobility Program

A Canadian employer must generally receive a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment in order to bring a temporary foreign worker to Canada (LMIA). However, in some cases, the requirement for an LMIA may be waived.

LMIA-exempt foreign workers are covered by the International Mobility Program (IMP). Individuals who are exempt from obtaining an LMIA are not exempt from obtaining a work permit. To work legally in Canada, all streams on the LMIA exemption list still require the individual to obtain a work permit.

Foreign workers who require the Canadian government’s labour market test, known as the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), are classified as temporary foreign workers under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP). Foreign workers who do not need an LMIA, on the other hand, are covered by the International Mobility Program (IMP). The TFWP allows Canadian employers to hire foreign workers when there are no suitable Canadian workers available. The IMP’s mission is to advance Canada’s broad economic, social, and cultural interests. Because the IMP’s policy objectives are broader, the Canadian government does not apply the LMIA process to foreign nationals who fall under any of the IMP’s streams.

Intra-Company Transferees

Intra-Company Transferees may be eligible for an LMIA exemption for a temporary move to Canada. Transferees must be executives, managers, or specialised knowledge workers for a foreign company that has a qualifying relationship with the company in Canada.


Entrepreneurs who wish to come to Canada temporarily to start or operate a business may be granted an LMIA exemption. Applicants for one of these programs must be the sole or majority owner of the business they want to start in Canada. They will also have to show that their company will be of significant benefit to Canada. Entrepreneurs can only obtain LMIA-exempt work permits if they can demonstrate that their work in Canada is temporary. Owners of seasonal businesses will benefit the most from this category. Entrepreneurs who have already applied for permanent residence in Canada may be eligible for LMIA-exempt work permits in this category.

Significant Benefit

Canadian visa officers have some liberty in determining whether the issuance of a work permit to a foreign national is desirable without the need for an LMIA. This is referred to as a significant social or cultural benefit.

The proposed benefit to Canada from the foreign national’s work must be significant, which means it must be significant or notable. Officers usually rely on the testimony of credible, trustworthy, and distinguished experts in the field of the foreign national, as well as any objective evidence provided. The foreign national’s track record is a good predictor of future success.

Objective measures of “significant social or cultural benefit”:

  • An official academic record demonstrating the foreign national’s possession of a degree, diploma, certificate, or similar award from a college, university, school, or other institution of learning relevant to their ability;
  • Evidence from current or former employers demonstrating that the foreign national has significant full-time experience in the occupation for which he or she is seeking employment (significant in this context can be defined as ten or more years experience);
  • has received national or international awards or a patent;
  • membership in organisations that demand excellence from its members;
  • evidence of peer, governmental, or professional or business associations recognising achievements and significant contributions to the field;

General Requirements

The following are the General Requirements to qualify for an Intra Company Transfer:

  • You are currently employed by an international company and want to work in Canada for that company’s parent, subsidiary, branch, or affiliate.
  • You are transferring to a company with which you have a qualifying relationship (see below) and will be working at a legitimate and continuing location of that company.
  • You are being promoted to an executive, senior management, or specialised knowledge position.
  • You have been continuously employed (proven through payroll or other form) by the company that intends to transfer them outside of Canada in a similar full-time position for at least one year in the three-year period preceding the date of initial application.
  • You are only visiting Canada for a short time.
  • You meet all immigration requirements for temporary entry.

Business Requirements for Intra Company Transfer:

  • In general, the company must secure physical premises to house the Canadian operation, especially if specialised knowledge is required. However, in specific cases involving senior managers or executives, the address of the new start-up may not yet be secured; for example, the company may use its counsel’s address until the executive can purchase or lease a premise.
  • The company must provide realistic staffing plans for the new operation.
  • The company must have the financial resources to begin operations in Canada and compensate employees.
  • When transferring executives or managers, the company must show that it is large enough to support the executive or management function.
  • When transferring a specialised knowledge worker, the company must demonstrate that it is expected to conduct business; work must be guided and directed by management at the Canadian operation.
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