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C11 Work Permit for Entrepreneur in Canada: A Guide

As an International Entrepreneur, the C11 Work Permit may enable you relocate to Canada for business.

The C11 Work Permit provixd an easy route for foreign entrepreneurs or business owners to get permanent residency in Canada.

Entrepreneurs, especially those in IT related start-ups, and business owners that want to operate their businesses in or from Canada do need a special work permit that is C11 exempt, otherwise called International Mobility Program.

The law establishing the C11 permit is an offshoot of subsection 22(2) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act for applicants who have a dual intent to seek status as temporary workers and then eventually as permanent residents.

In cases where the applicant has received a nomination in the business category or is self-employed and the permanent residence application is not yet processed, a C11 work permit may be authorized as an initial work permit or extension, where there is a compelling argument for early entry.

Table of Contents

Business types eligible for C11 work authorization

Not every business can qualify for this work permit. For you to apply for a C11 work permit, your business will have to be a company that specializes in:

  • Outdoor activities
  • Gardening and lawn care
  • Service for home services
  • Services for relocation
  • Retailer
  • Services for pool upkeep
  • Coach or personal trainer, etc.

How to get a regular work permit in Canada

Work permits in Canada are issued under two main programs:

  1. The temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP), and
  2. The International Mobility Program (IMP)

#1. Temporary Foreign Worker Program

This category is for foreigners who have a job offer in Canada. To qualify for this position, the Canadian employer must obtain a positive Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).

#2. The International Mobility Program (IMP)

This is the program for special cases. It contains an exemption for foreign entrepreneurs (and self-employed persons) that have interest in moving to Canada. The C11 work permit exemption falls under the IMP program.

The C11 Work Permit in Canada

Canada’s International Mobility Program allow employers to hire any foreign temporary worker without a Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). The second LMIA exemption is a class called C11 Exemption permit.

The C11 is a special class created for entrepreneurs and business owners who want to move to Canada. You will use the C11 exemption code to apply for a work permit if you fall into this category.

As an entrepreneur, you need to have some qualities to qualify for IMP code C11. These requirements are what the Immigration officers are after before they can grant you the C11 work permit exemption.

These are the requirements for c11 work authorization:

  • You have the skills and background to establish a successful business in Canada or purchase an existing one and turn it into a successful business.
  • You must own at least 50% of the business you establish or purchase in Canada.
  • Your business activities in Canada creates significant cultural, social, or economic benefits to our country (e.g. contributes to remote areas, creates jobs for Canadians, exports Canadian goods to other countries, contributes to technological development, shows to be innovative in nature, helps Canadians to hone their skills, etc.)
  • Your business plan is meaningful and viable.
  • You have taken proactive steps to prepare for your entrance into Canada (e.g. you have established the business, secured enough financial resources for the business, signed agreements with Canadian suppliers, etc.)
  • Sometimes this authorization may be given to spouses in form of open work permit.

Canada C11 work permit categories

To apply for the C11 work permit, you have to check if you fall into one of two categories:

  • Those who wish to enter Canada on a temporary basis to pursue their business goals (for e.g. to set up a Canadian branch for your business and leave the management to their employees).

If you’re in this category you will easily get a work permit. But should you change your mind, you can always switch to the second category after you go through the required processes.

  • Those who want to stay in Canada and operate their business. That is those that want permanent residency as well.

If you also want to pursue a permanent residency while you work, then you fall into this category.

Immigration pathways for Entrepreneurs

Eligible entrepreneurs and spouses of eligible residents can apply for Permanent Residence in Canada after or while using the C11 work permit.

As an entrepreneur that wants to permanently move to Canada, the C11 work permit helps you get your foot in the door. You have to remember that it doesn’t guarantee permanent residency. But through the C11 work permit, you can come in and work towards getting a permanent residency.

Convert C11 work permit to permanent residency

The C11 work visa only allows you to work in Canada. It does not lead to automatic permanent residency. The immigration department restricts permanent residency to two cases.

  1. Provincial nominees.
  2. Entrepreneurs moving to Quebec Province.

#1. Provincial nominees

If you want to move to a particular province (for example British Columbia), the province can nominate you for permanent residency. You will first have to enter the province and start the business first using your C11 work permit.

The province nomination program is a way to first ensure that you can really start and grow the business. If everything works out, you’ll be nominated for permanent residency.

#2. Entrepreneurs moving to Quebec Province.

The Quebec province does not have a nomination program. A C11 work permit is issued to entrepreneurs and self-employed individuals going to Quebec when a Quebec Selection Certificate (CSQ) has been issued. In this case the person would have applied for permanent residency but has not been approved.

Understanding “significant benefit” to Canada

Whether you want a short-stay work permit or a one that would turn into a permanent residency, your business will be assessed. In other words, you must convince the Immigration officer that your business will be beneficial to Canadians.

Among other things, you’ll need to provide documents that prove that:

  • You are the owner of the business (or a self-employed person with a strong business strategy)
  • Your business is beneficial to Canadians (it must improve their social, economic and cultural lives).