Owner Operator LMIA vs. Significant Benefit Work Permit

The recent changes to the Owner Operator LMIA program that will be in place starting April 1, 2021, involve having to advertise your own position for one month, then first obtain a LMIA (a Labour Market Impact Assessment) that will show that no other Canadian but you can be the owner of that business, and then be able to finally apply for a work permit. Needless to say, although the program remains open, it is not the first entrepreneur pathway one should consider.


Another business immigration program much faster than the Owner Operator LMIA program, is the Significant Benefit Work Permit.

If you are a senior executive or a business owner with years of experience, and want to open a business that will bring a significant benefit to Canada, this program may be a good option for you.


There is no specific or restrictive definition of what Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada can consider as a “significant benefit”, however it usually articulates around economic, social and/or cultural benefits such as, but not limited to:

  • A new or rare product or service: process, material, technology, solutions, goods/food from a specific country.
  • Job creations for Canadians.
  • Whether the company exports Canadian made products.
  • Whether the location is in a smaller city as Canada is looking to attract entrepreneurs to rural regions as well.

Immigration will also want to see that you have experience in that field and ideally, that you already make a living out of it back home. Your past experience, expertise, recognition, awards, leadership in that same field will make up for a strong application.


  • You: work permit.
  • Spouse: open work permit allowing him/her to work anywhere in Canada.
  • Children: study permit.

You will obtain a 2-year work permit so you can come to Canada, open and manage the business for at least 1 year, and then be eligible to apply for permanent residence.

During these two years, you will have to create at least 1 job, have clients, suppliers, etc. In other words, you must get the business running.


Although there is no minimum investment requirement, we will have to show evidence that you have the financial ability to start the business and pay the operating expenses such as rent, salaries, etc.

In general, we suggest being able to demonstrate a net worth of at least $400,000 CAD and be prepared to invest at least $150,000 – $200,000 CAD into the new Canadian corporation to increase the strength of your application. Of course, the amounts may vary depending on the type of business you will open.


  • One of the advantages of the Significant Benefit Work Permit program is that you only need to apply for a work permit, contrary to the Owner Operator program where you first have to advertise for your own position for at least one month, then wait to obtain a LMIA and then be able to finally apply for a work permit.
  • Another key advantage is that you can either rent a store/office or buy it.
  • You do not have to permanently be in Canada. As long as the business is active and running, you can come and go as you want.
  • Your spouse will obtain an open work permit allowing her/him to accumulate Canadian work experience which will be valuable for the permanent residence application.


After 1 year of operating the business, you may obtain up to 200 points as the Owner of the business which will highly increase your chances to obtain permanent residency under the Express Entry program.

You will have to:

  • Have IELTS GENERAL 7 meaning 6 in writing, reading, speaking and listening.
  • Demonstrate your work experiences.
  • Assess your degrees.

It will take approximately 8 to 12 months to obtain permanent residency for you, your spouse and your children under 22 years old.

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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