Owner-Operator LMIA

Business immigration is one of the ways to enter Canada. Canadian provinces and territories have business immigration streams in their Provincial Nominee Programs. These with the presence of the Federal Start-up Visa can prove Canada’s willingness to accommodate business owners for immigration.

These pathways lead to the coveted status of permanent residence in Canada. All require significant investments in the form of time and money. While this may be enough to encourage many investors, the requirements for minimum investment and waiting times may be discouraging to some.

As well, some may only be after managerial experience in Canada. In particular, some may be after managerial experience in preparation for applying for permanent residence in the future.

For entrepreneurs or investors interested in a temporary stay while managing a business, there is the Owner-Operator LMIA.

An LMIA Vs An Owner-Operator LMIA

It might be helpful to distinguish an Owner-Operator LMIA from an LMIA first.


An LMIA or Labour Market Impact Assessment is a document. It is one that is issued by Economic and Social Development Canada or ESDC. An LMIA is a pre-requisite for hiring overseas talent.

ESDC can issue an LMIA if a Canadian business could prove an inability to fill certain positions. A business owner may need to prove that he or she cannot fill the position with Canadians or permanent residents.

Once ESDC determines the necessity to fill in the business’s vacant positions, it issues an LMIA or confirmation letter. The confirmation letter or LMIA allows Canadian businesses to hire foreign workers. 

An LMIA is a way for businesses in Canada to fill vacancies. A Canadian business may continue to hire workers for certain positions. For this reason, a Canadian employer may have to apply for an LMIA for every worker he or she wants to hire from overseas.

This is why getting a job offer has to come from an employer who has a positive LMIA. Without one, a Canadian employer may be hiring a foreign worker for a job vacancy that has either been filled or can be filled by Canadian citizens or permanent residents.   

Owner-Operator LMIA

An Owner-Operator LMIA is different from an LMIA.

Businesses usually apply for LMIAs to issue job offers to visa applicants overseas. An applicant will need a copy of the LMIA, LMIA number, contract, and the job offer to apply for a work permit in Canada.

An Owner-Operator LMIA is specifically for a person who wants to start a business in Canada. With this type of LMIA, a business owner can get a temporary work permit that allows him or her to either start a business or purchase one in Canada.

The work permit under the Owner-Operator LMIA designates the owner as both an owner and operator of the business. Under the work permit, the owner or investor manages the business in Canada.

As an owner with a managerial function, an applicant’s work permit does not require a job offer which in turn requires an LMIA from an employer.

This means that the business must employ and compensate both the employees and the owner. This alongside other qualifications must be present in the business plan.

The Business Plan For An Owner-Operator LMIA

man doing business plan for owner operator lmia

To get a work permit to operate a business, a foreign business owner or investor must apply for an Owner-Operator LMIA. To apply for this, he or she must have a business plan.

The business plan for an Owner-Operator LMIA must prove that it can contribute to the economy of Canada. In detail, the following must be present in the business plan:

Adherence To Provincial, Territorial, and Federal Labour Standards

Since the business will be the working environment for the people it employs, the business needs to be in accordance with the standards and laws of a province or territory in Canada. It must also follow the labour standards set by the Federal government.

These must be present in the business plan. The important areas may include the following:

  • Working conditions
  • Physical location
  • Health and safety measures

Wages In Accordance To Canadian Standards

There are laws for how much an employer has to pay workers in Canada. The business plan must prove that it could make enough money to comply with a province’s wage standards.

As well, the business plan may need to prove that the wages also comply with industry standards.

Labour Force

One of the things that will be assessed is whether or not the business could generate employment.

The business plan must present the business to be able to employ at least one Canadian citizen or permanent resident. It must also show that Canadian citizens or permanent residents will be prioritized for hiring before considering foreign skilled workers for a position.

Language Requirement

Although English and French are the official languages for workplaces in Canada, some workplaces might use a different language. In situations where a business may have to use a different language, the business plan must say so.

The Benefits Of An Owner-Operator LMIA Work Permit

As mentioned earlier, an Owner-Operator LMIA allows a foreign business investor or owner to stay in Canada on a temporary work permit. Despite being temporary, the work permit may provide some advantages to its holder:

When Applying For One, It Does Not Require A Job Offer

For most work permits under the Federal Temporary Work Permit Program, a requirement for applicants is a job offer. A job offer can only be issued by a Canadian business that passes ESDC’s LMIA.

Also, a Canadian employer would have to pay 1,000.00 CAD to apply for an LMIA and wait for at least a month for ESDC’s approval. An employer might not be approved so getting an LMIA is not guaranteed.

This can make employers hesitant towards giving job offers. As a result, getting a job offer may take a long time.

The worker permit from an Owner-Operator LMIA does not require a job offer. Hence, it may be easier to get for business owners.

Managerial Experience

A temporary stay in Canada managing a business can provide the work permit holder with managerial experience. On top of that, the experience will be Canadian managerial experience.

Hence, if the holder considers becoming a permanent resident in the future, the managerial experience obtained in the country may be helpful for the application. 

No Advertisement Requierement

Ordinarily, applying for an LMIA requires an employer to show proof that a job position was advertised.

Since an Owner-Operator LMIA is for a person who both owns and operates a business, the advertisement or recruitment process is not a necessary step. An applicant with an Owner-Operator LMIA can bypass this step.

General Eligibility Requirements For Candidates

Candidates for an Owner-Operator LMIA and the work permit need to meet certain requirements.

Majority Ownership

like a boss mug majority of ownership lmia canada requirement

This is a requirement for applicants who wish to purchase shares of Canadian companies or businesses. To have majority ownership, a candidate would have to acquire at least 50.1% of a business or company in Canada.

Active Involvement

As a pathway for business immigration in Canada, candidates need to be present in the country to manage and operate the business. ESDC may conduct inspections to check on the business as well as the presence of the owner-operator.

An Operator-Owner LMIA Business Plan

Owner-operator candidates or applicants need to present the sustainability and profitability of the business in a business plan. The plan should also include the company’s operations, financial projections, and financing. 

Prior Management Experience

A candidate might need to have prior management experience overseas to qualify. Since it must be verifiable, the candidate may have to submit documents that prove managerial experience.

Language Test Results

IRCC recognizes how English or French skills contribute to the active management of a business. For this reason, there is a language requirement candidates must meet.

As with other business immigration pathways, the minimum language requirement is CLB 5.

Funds To Acquire A Business Or Start One In Canada

The amount will depend on the business an applicant plans to acquire or start. A significant portion of an applicant’s assets may have to be ready for liquidity. The assets must also be unencumbered by debt or any automatic rolling payments.


Canada is open for business.

With numerous streams and pathways for business immigration, the country is adamant in its intention to bring in more investors and business owners.

Through the Owner-Operator LMIA, prospective entrepreneurs and investors could manage their businesses in Canada on a work permit. The managerial experience engenders profit for themselves but the Canadian economy as a whole.

Choose Canada Magazine

Each member of our team at Choose Canada Magazine has been in Canada for over five years, and has helped dozens of people worldwide find their life in Canada.

Leave a comment

Related Posts

Sign up today!

There are some tips, guides and job opportunities that we only share with our newsletter community.

Please wait...

Thank you for signing up!