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  • Writer's pictureCalver Immigration Consulting Inc.

Can I start a business while on an open work permit?

Will I be in breach of my permit if I start a business while in Canada?

Picture this: You're in Canada on a closed work permit but you’ve just had a lightbulb moment and an amazing opportunity has presented itself. The question then becomes:

Will I be in breach of my permit if I start a business while in Canada?

Unfortunately, the answer is YES. Working on a closed work permit will prevent you from starting a business in Canada but if you keep reading you will find the best solution to keep the ball rolling in the right direction.

What’s the Difference Between an Open and a Closed Work Permit?

An open work permit allows you to work for any employer in Canada. Additionally, an open work permit has open employment/self-employment conditions, allowing a foreign national to explore entrepreneurial ventures while in Canada. There are several types of open work permits, such as postgraduate work permit (PGWP), spousal open work permit (SOWP) and open work permits for students.

A closed work permit, as the word "closed" implies, typically means that this permit is restrictive. That is, you are only allowed to work at the jobs and locations listed on the permit. These are usually employer-specific work permits, with the specific employment conditions clearly defined.

You cannot start a business on a closed work permit because self-employment is prohibited on closed-work permits. You are only allowed to work for the specific employer mentioned on your work permit unless you apply to change the conditions of your stay to enable you to work as a self-employed individual or an entrepreneur.

Immigration Options to make your transition easier

There are a few options that can help you transition from a closed work permit to being eligible to an open work permit, thus allowing you to open a business in Canada. Let's take a look at a few of these:

1. Owner/Operator LMIA - O/O LMIA:

An Owner/Operator LMIA is an application that allows business owners who are actively involved in their company and operations to obtain work authorization. When applying through this route, you will be required to meet certain conditions, including proof that operating the business will result in the creation or retention of jobs for Canadians or permanent residents, a viable business plan, and ownership of at least 50% of the business, to name a few.

One advantage of having an Owner-Operator work permit based on an LMIA in a senior management position (NOC 00) is that you can gain 200 additional points in the Express Entry system, which can help you qualify for permanent residency.

2. Work Permits Issued for Significant Benefits (C10 and C11):

A significant benefit in Canada is determined by a company's/ entrepreneurs ability to contribute to the country's overall economic stimulus, such as job creation and the expansion of export markets for Canadian goods and services. Another important factor in determining ‘significant benefit' is the advancement of Canadian industry in areas such as technological development, product or service innovation, and diverse opportunities for Canadians. Although no LMIA is required for these work permits, it is critical that you receive proper guidance to ensure that your company can effectively demonstrate that it meets the respective criteria.

3. Start Up Visa (SUV)

Another excellent program is the Start-Up Visa, which provides permanent residence to qualified entrepreneurs with the necessary skills and potential to build businesses in Canada that are innovative, help create jobs for Canadians, and can compete on a global scale. The SUV program is popular because approved candidates can receive a work permit to work on their business while their permanent residency application is being processed at the same time. The SUV program requires no minimum investment requirement for the immigrant, the applicant can live almost anywhere in Canada, and the language requirements are lower than other immigration programs. Individuals applying for the SUV program must be able to secure funding for their business idea from a designated organization, which can include angel investors, venture capital funds, and business incubators.

We are Here to Help

Starting a business is a great way to become a permanent resident, as Canada favours people who want to grow the economy. Working with an immigration consultant can be beneficial to ensure you do things correctly and legally.

Calver Immigration Consulting Inc. has extensive experience in corporate and business immigration. Our founder, Ms. Calver, is a regulated Canadian immigration consultant and an Expert in Residence at the Peterborough Innovation Cluster (one of only 31 designated business incubators in Canada). She has first-hand knowledge in assisting entrepreneurs to navigate the immigration and operational side of the start-up visa programme.

Reach out to us today; we are here to assist and make your idea a reality!



Our Services

Calver Immigration Consulting Inc. is rated Canada's number one boutique immigration consultancy. We serve clients across Canada and internationally. Our Registered Canadian Immigration Consultant has over 10 years of experience in Canadian Immigration law and over four years of experience serving those in Canada and abroad.

We can assist with applications for both temporary and permanent residency in Canada. We handle applications for study permits, permanent residency, family class sponsorship, visitor visas, work permits, and Canadian citizenship. We also handle criminal inadmissibility cases by developing remedies for refusal.

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