Guidelines for assessing start-up situations for intra-company transferee category work permit applications have been added to the Foreign Worker Manual.

This is a situation where the foreign company has started a new Canadian subsidiary or branch office and wishes to transfer foreign workers to take up positions with the start-up in Canada. The guidelines reflect an approach that the U.S. has used for many years when assessing transfers to start-ups under the L-1 Work Visa category, the U.S. version of the intra-company transferee category.

Special rules have been introduced. For the company involved, the company must secure physical premises to house the Canadian operation, must furnish a realistic business plan relating to staffing the new operation, and must demonstrate the financial ability to operate the business and hire employees in Canada.

For managerial level transferees, it must be shown that the Canadian operation will be large enough to support a management function. For specialized knowledge workers, the company must demonstrate that it will be doing business in Canada and that the specialized knowledge worker will be directed by management at the Canadian operation.

The initial work permit for a start-up company is one year, as opposed to the usual three-year work permit issued under the intra-company transferee category.

The reason for the one-year duration is that this will provide an opportunity for Immigration Canada to review the situation one year later before issuing a renewal. For renewals, the company must show that the new Canadian office or entity has engaged in the continuous provision of goods or services for the past year and that the new entity in Canada has been staffed.

Presumably, the policy reason behind the special rules for start-ups is to ensure that the intra-company transferee category is not used as a vehicle to obtain work permits where there is no intention to have a real business within Canada. It may also be aimed at preventing foreign companies from being able to use this category to obtain work permits for temporary service providers who need to move in and out of Canada to provide services to various Canadian customers, where the company does not have a true presence “on the ground” in Canada.