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The LMIA Program: The Fastest Pathway to Canadian Citizenship for Foreign Investors

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    The LMIA Program: The Fastest Pathway to Canadian Citizenship for Foreign Investors

    Owner-Operator Labour Market Impact Assessment Program (LMIA)

    It is no surprise that there are currently thousands of foreign nationals who would like to make their home in Canada. For many reasons, Canada is a country that many seek to immigrate to and make their permanent home. Canada has a sound financial and business sector, provides wonderful opportunities for educational achievement, provides access to a highly educated workforce, and excellent social benefit systems such as national health care and child benefit credits. For all of these reasons and more, Canada has become a desirable destination.

    While there are several avenues to achieving permanent residence status in Canada, most of them are not attractive options for foreign investors. Provincial immigration-based programs operate under a quota system and requires quite a bit of time and money to process an application.

    Owner-Operator Labour Market Impact Assessment Program (LMIA)

    For foreign investors who wish to make their home in Canada, there is another way—the LMIA (Labour Market Impact Assessment) Program, which gives preferential treatment to qualified foreign investors, also known as the “owner-operator,” fast-tracking access to permanent residence status.

    The LMIA pathway involves investing in a Canadian business or purchasing a business for sale in Canada, with an investment between $50,000 and $1 million. The owner-operator must have controlling interest in the business by owning more than 50% of the shares and must be actively involved in the management of the business.

    In addition to having sufficient investment capital and transferable management experience, the owner-operator must have sufficient language abilities in either English or French to actively work as a manager in the business. Finally, the owner-operator must provide a blueprint of his or her business plan focusing on all the aspects required by the immigration authorities.

    Several Pathways

    The major options when applying for the owner-operator application include but are not limited to the following:

    • New start-up business
    • Complete purchase or change in ownership of an existing business
    • Purchase of pending shares in existing business
    • Partial purchase of an existing business
    • Many other options, suited to an individual requirements

    The purchase of an existing business using a self-employed LMIA strategy offers a pathway to long-term immigration status in Canada.  A small business anywhere in Canada can add 50 to 200 bonus points towards your Permanent Residency or Express Entry Application. Once a suitable business is found, it will take 2-3 months to complete the LMIA application process and less than 3-months in most jurisdictions to receive a work permit. The investor will also receive an open work permit for his or her spouse, and study permits for their children.

    During the first year of working in Canada, the foreign investor and his/her immediate family members can apply for permanent residence. In most cases, the process can be completed in less than 12 months.

    What is the Process?

    • The foreign investor identifies a Canadian business to purchase.
    • A Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) is submitted along with a suitable business plan.
    • Once a positive LMIA opinion is issued, the foreign investor applies for a 12-24 months, renewable temporary work permit at the management level.

    How We Help

    At Kalfa Law, we assist with the acquisition or establishment of a Canadian business. First, we prepare the Letter of Invitation to obtain the TRV permit. With respect to the acquisition, we then prepare the Letter of Intent followed by the agreement of purchase and sale. We assist with satisfying the relevant pre-conditions such as landlord approval, franchisor consent and due diligence. We prepare the closing documents which are the documents that legally transfer business title to the purchaser, and we facilitate the closing through an escrow process or running funds through a trust, as well as post-closing registrations.

    Contact one of Kalfa Law’s expert business lawyers to assist with the acquisition of a Canadian business as we help you embark on a fast and easy pathway to Canadian citizenship and business success.

    F.A.Q’s:

    How long does it take to get the LMIA?
    Once a suitable business is found, it will take 2-3 months to complete the LMIA application process. Following the approval of the LMIA, it will take less than 3 months in most jurisdictions to receive a 1-24 months, renewable temporary work permit at the management level.
    How can I get the LMIA?
    The foreign investor identifies a Canadian business to purchase with an investment between $50,000 and $1 million.   A Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) is submitted along with a suitable business plan. Once a positive LMIA opinion is issued, the foreign investor applies for a 12-24 months, renewable temporary work permit at the management level.
    What are the requirements for successfully applying for a LMIA?
    • Sufficient capital between $50,000 and $1 million.
    • Owner-operator must have controlling interest, owning more than 50% of the shares, in the business he wishes to purchase
    • Owner-operator must be actively involved in the management of the business
    • Transferable Management skills
    • Language proficiency in English or French
    • Comprehensive business plan


    -Shira Kalfa, BA, JD, Partner and Founder

    Shira Kalfa is the founding partner of Kalfa Law. Shira’s practice is focused in corporate-commercial and tax law including corporate reorganizations, corporate restructuring, mergers and acquisitions, commercial financing, secured lending and transactional law. Shira graduated from York University achieving the highest academic accolade of Summa Cum Laude in 2012. She graduated from Western Law in 2015, with a specialization in business law. Shira is licensed to practice by the Law Society of Ontario. She is also a member of the Ontario Bar Association, the Canadian Tax FoundationWomen’s Law Association of Ontario, and the Toronto Jewish Law Society. 

    © Kalfa Law 2021

    The above provides information of a general nature only. This does not constitute legal advice. All transactions or circumstances vary, and specified legal advice is required to meet your particular needs. If you have a legal question you should consult with a lawyer.
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