OWNER OPERATOR - How the program works and what are the changes to the program?

The Owner Operator LMIA Work Permit is one of the most well-known immigration program for entrepreneurs.

It allows entrepreneurs to:

  • open a new business.
  • buy an existing business, or
  • buy a franchise.

The program has however recently went through some changes which entered into effect on April 1, 2021.

OWNER OPERATOR - How the program works and what are the changes to the program?

Before the changes, entrepreneurs applying under this program where exempt from going through the usual advertising requirement for most LMIAs (Labour Market Impact Assessment).

However, this exemption no longer applies. Due to an overall abuse of this program, immigration has slightly tightened its rules and requires from now on to advertise your own position on 3 different website for at least 1 month. During that time, all resumes must be reviewed to demonstrate that no Canadian or Permanent Resident can undertake your job better than yourself.

As a business owner who is going to own at least 50.1% of the business and invest a rather substantial amount of money into that business, it is less to say that this process appears to be more bureaucratic than anything else. Indeed, what are the chances that a Canadian submits its resume to become the owner of a business into which he/she must invest its own money and actively manage that business.

Nonetheless, this is a requirement any Owner Operator LMIA Work Permit applicant needs to abide to prior to submitting his application, lengthening the process of an additional month.

OWNER OPERATOR - How the program works and what are the changes to the program?

The advantage of the Owner Operator LMIA program (as well as other entrepreneur programs) is that your work permit will provide you with 50 or 200 points which will later on be very helpful towards your permanent residence application.

However, the new changes make it more difficult for a senior manager to obtain 200 points as senior managerial positions are being interpreted more narrowly by Immigration Officers. Indeed, senior managerial roles suppose managing managers. Based on our experience, most foreign entrepreneurs prefer to start with smaller businesses, and scale once in Canada. Most of the time, they do not purchase or create a business with departments employing several managers.

Consequently, there are higher chances that even as the Owner of the Canadian company, that you obtain only 50 points instead of 200 points. Nonetheless, 50 points can be sufficient for numerous entrepreneurs who aim to settle permanently in Canada. In addition, should the business scale, you can update your position and obtain a new work permit providing you with 200 points.


The Owner Operator LMIA Work Permit program was already requiring proof that the business is actively running and is not solely at the business plan stage. However, the new changes require that the business be running for at least 1 year before submitting the application.

Our firm was already advising its clients to purchase existing business with at least 12 months of activity. Consequently, the Owner Operator program works best for entrepreneurs who want to buy an existing business, unless the entrepreneur has been running the business for at least 1 year either under another type of work permit or from overseas.


Despite the above mentioned changes that may appear overly complicated, the Owner Operator LMIA program remains a viable immigration path for numerous entrepreneurs who cannot meet the eligibility requirements of other business programs or who do not want to go through the provinces selection process. Like anything in the world, hiring the right professional will help you navigate the program and reach your end goal.


Let’s summarize the process:

  1. Find the business.
  2. Advertise your position for 1 month.
  3. Apply for the LMIA.
  4. Once the LMIA is approved, apply for the work permit.


The Owner Operator program is still open and remains a potential business immigration option.

With corona virus and many businesses closing and laying off employees, this type of application helps Canadian economy restart, maintain and create new jobs, criteria that Canadian immigration highly values, now more than ever.

  • You can buy a business existing for at least 1 year or operate a business for 1 year from overseas and then apply. The business must be up and running before applying.
  • Business must be profitable.
  • Business must have employees.
  • Business will create jobs during year 1.
  • You must have previous experience in that industry.
MINIMUM INVESTMENT You should be ready to spend at least $200,000 into buying a business.

(can be husband + wife)

In addition to the business purchase price, you should put aside in a bank account at least $200,000 for the operating expenses.

This amount should preferably be on a corporate account, but some countries operate on personal accounts only.

You must be ready to pay yourself a salary that matches your position as a business owner.

RENT OR BUY You can rent or buy.
  • You gather the documents.
  • We find the location/business.
  • We help you advertise your positions online, gather all the resumes, and argue that no one else but you can be the owner and manager of this business.
  • We incorporate the business.
  • We do the business plan tailored to immigration requirements.
  • If needed, we put you in touch with our network to start finding clients, distributors, suppliers.
  • PART 1: We submit a complete LMIA application.
  • PART 2: Once Part 1 is approved, we submitted a complete work permit application to the government.
  • You can either apply for permanent residence right away or after operating the business for 1-2 years. It depends on numerous factors such as age, education level, years of work experiences, etc.
  • After becoming a permanent resident of Canada, you can obtain Canadian citizenship (passport) after 3 years of residency in Canada. These 3 years do not need to be continuous.

After becoming a permanent resident of Canada, you can obtain Canadian citizenship (passport) after 3 years of residency in Canada. These 3 years do not need to be continuous.


some may not apply to your case and some can be replaced/added
  • Passport.
  • National ID.
  • Military card/exemption.
  • Marriage certificate.
  • Education degrees.
  • Resume.
  • List of all your travels.
  • Proof of business ownership/activity back home (business licence, taxes, payroll, employment contracts).
  • Canadian clients/suppliers/distributors or potential clients: contracts, invoices, negotiations.
  • Bank statement showing available funds to operate the business.
TIME (approximate) 4-6 months.
MEDICAL COVERAGE IN CANADA (after obtaining a visa) Yes.
OPINION This is a last resort application to look at if you have other options.

We help entrepreneurs set up their business and immigration strategy and execute on it.

We believe immigration is more than just a visa. We accompany our entrepreneurs during their entire immigration journey: from business set up to the first work permit, then permanent residency and finally, citizenship.

  • Find the business to buy or rent.
  • Find the location.
  • Incorporate the business.
  • Write a business plan tailored to immigration requirements.
  • We put you in touch with our network to start finding clients, distributors, suppliers.
  • Find schools for your children.
  • Your spouse and children under 22 years old can be included in your application.

To book a consultation with a lawyer and explore your business immigration options, email us.


+1 647.979.7068 (WhatsApp available)


85 East Liberty Street, Toronto, Ontario, M6K 3R4, Canada

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