What is an Intra-Company Transfer?

An intra-company transfer involves relocating an employee from a foreign branch of a multinational corporation to a Canadian branch. This work permit allows eligible employees to work in Canada without requiring a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).

This guide offers an in-depth analysis of the procedures, requirements, and crucial information for employees and employers considering intra-company transfers to Canada. Familiarizing yourself with the necessary steps will ensure a seamless transition to your new work setting.

express entry

Are you ready to get started, or not sure which option is best for you?

Find out how you can move to Canada.

Get started

Employee criteria

Intra-company transferees can apply for work permits under the general provision if they:

  • Are presently employed by a multinational company and plan to work in a parent, subsidiary, branch, or affiliate of the enterprise;
  • Will be transferring to a company with a qualifying relationship to their current employer and will work at a legitimate, ongoing establishment of the organization (using 18-24 months as a reasonable minimum guideline);
  • Will be transferred to a role in an executive, senior managerial, or specialized knowledge capacity;
  • Have been employed continuously (through payroll or direct contract) by the transferring company outside of Canada in a similar full-time position (not cumulative part-time) for at least one year within the three-year period immediately before the initial application.

Intra-Company Transfer Employee Roles

To qualify as an executive capacity position, the role must meet some or all of the following criteria:

To qualify as an executive capacity position, the role must meet some or all of the following criteria:

  • Oversee the management of the organization or a significant component or function of the organization;
  • Establish the objectives and policies of the organization, component, or function;
  • Exercise considerable latitude in discretionary decision-making; and
  • Receive only general supervision or direction from higher-level executives, the board of directors, or the organization's stockholders.

To qualify as a managerial capacity position, the role must meet some or all of the following criteria:

  • Manage the organization, or a department, subdivision, function, or component of the organization;
  • Oversee and direct the work of other supervisory, professional, or managerial employees, or manage an essential function within the organization, or a department or subdivision of the organization;
  • Possess the authority to hire and fire or recommend such personnel actions (such as promotion and leave authorization); if no other employee is directly supervised, functions at a high level within the organization hierarchy or concerning the function managed; and
  • Exercise discretion over the day-to-day operations of the activity or function for which the employee has authority.

To qualify as a specialized knowledge position, the role must require both proprietary knowledge and advanced expertise. These are defined through NAFTA as follows:

  • Proprietary Knowledge: "Company-specific expertise related to a company's product or services. It implies that the company has not divulged specifications that would allow other companies to replicate the product or service."
  • Advanced Expertise: "Specialized knowledge gained through significant (i.e., the longer the experience, the more likely the knowledge is indeed "specialized") and recent (i.e., within the last 5 years) experience with the organization and used by the individual to contribute substantially to the employer's productivity."

Employer eligibility criteria

For a successful intra-company transfer, the Canadian and foreign enterprises must demonstrate a qualifying relationship. This relationship is essential in determining the eligibility of both the employee and the company for the transfer process.

The foreign and Canadian enterprises must share a qualifying relationship, such as being a parent, subsidiary, branch, or affiliate.

Both companies need to be actively engaged in business, which entails regular and continuous involvement in providing goods or services. Simply having a physical location in Canada does not meet this requirement.

Work permit duration

Executives and managers: Initially granted a maximum of 3 years, except for office start-ups (1 year); 2-year extensions are permissible; the total duration of stay cannot exceed 7 years.

Specialized knowledge workers:
Initially granted a maximum of 3 years, except for office start-ups (1 year); 2-year extensions are permissible; the total duration of stay cannot exceed 5 years.

express entry

Are you ready to get started, or not sure which option is best for you?

Find out how you can move to Canada.

Get started

Application process

To apply for an intra-company transfer work permit, follow these steps:

Gather the required documentation

  • Proof of employment at the foreign branch
  • Job offer from the Canadian branch
  • Evidence of the qualifying relationship between the branches
  • Supporting documents demonstrating the employee's role and qualifications

Submit the application

Submit the application online or at a Canadian visa office outside Canada. In some cases, eligible applicants can apply at a Canadian port of entry.

Work permit

If approved, the employee will receive a work permit, which is typically valid for an initial period of one to three years, with the possibility of extension.

Transition to Permanent Residence

Intra-company transferees often have a favourable opportunity to obtain permanent residency in Canada if they choose to do so. As permanent residents, they can live and work anywhere within the country.

Since its inception in 2015, Canada’s Express Entry immigration system has been the primary pathway for economic immigration to the country. Intra-company transferees seeking to become permanent residents can acquire Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) points without needing a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), making it easier for them to enhance their CRS score. Consequently, this increases their likelihood of receiving an invitation to apply for permanent residence.

Additionally, there may be alternative routes to achieve permanent residency outside of the Express Entry system, such as through one of the Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs).

In the long run, some individuals who start working in Canada as intra-company transferees might eventually become naturalized Canadian citizens. This milestone follows the acquisition of permanent residency.

Intra-Company Transfer F&Qs

There are no explicit language requirements for intra-company transfers to Canada. However, having proficiency in English or French can be beneficial for employees when adapting to their new work environment and the local community.

The government fees are around $250.

The costs associated with applying for an intra-company transfer work permit include processing fees, biometric fees (if applicable), and other possible expenses related to gathering required documentation. These costs can vary depending on the applicant’s specific circumstances and the Canadian government’s current fee structure.

The processing time for an intra-company transfer work permit application can vary depending on factors such as the applicant’s country of residence, the completeness of the application, and the Canadian visa office’s workload. On average, processing times can range from a few weeks to several months.

Yes, an employee’s spouse or common-law partner and dependent children can usually accompany them during an intra-company transfer to Canada. Family members may be eligible for open work permits or study permits, depending on their individual circumstances.

An intra-company transfer work permit is employer-specific, meaning that employees cannot change employers while on this type of work permit. If an employee wishes to change employers, they would need to apply for a new work permit, which may require a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) or be eligible for an LMIA-exempt work permit through a different program.

It is possible to change roles within the company during an intra-company transfer, provided that the new role still falls under the executive, managerial, or specialized knowledge categories. The employee may need to inform and seek approval from the relevant Canadian authorities for significant changes in their job duties.

Employees transferring to Canada through an intra-company transfer will generally become Canadian tax residents, which means they will be subject to Canadian income tax on their income. It is essential for employees to familiarize themselves with their tax obligations in Canada and their home country and consult a tax professional if necessary.

Yes, intra-company transferees with a valid work permit can apply for a Social Insurance Number (SIN) in Canada. A SIN is necessary for working in Canada and accessing certain government programs and benefits.

Intra-company transferees can only perform work related to their approved executive, managerial, or specialized knowledge capacity roles, as outlined in their work permit. They must not engage in work outside the scope of their approved roles without proper authorization.

When traveling to Canada, intra-company transferees should carry their valid work permit, passport, job offer letter from the Canadian employer, and any other relevant supporting documents, such as proof of their employment at the foreign branch.