Owner-Operator Visa

Owner-Operator Visa

The Owner-Operator LMIA Work program is the easiest and fastest way for foreign workers to gain permanent residency.

Canada has a tried and tested immigration system with many federal and provincial immigration programs for skilled workers. However, overseas investors and entrepreneurs have limited opportunities. The Owner-Operator LMIA Work Permit for Foreign Entrepreneurs is one of the popular programs for foreign entrepreneurs and investors looking to set up a new business or buy an existing business in Canada.

The owner-operator visa route is a two-step program. The initial work permit serves as the platform for applicants to try for permanent residency in Canada.

The Owner-Operator LMIA route involves the following steps.

  • Purchase an existing Canadian business or start a new business in Canada
  • Create a job position for yourself as an employee of the business
  • Apply for the Owner-Operator LMIA
  • Get a work permit and begin working as an employee of your own business
  • Apply through Express Entry to become a permanent resident of Canada


The owner-operator route is not for every foreign entrepreneur looking to invest in or start a business in Canada. To qualify as an owner/operator, you must meet specific requirements. 

You must have a controlling interest in the business you want to begin as an owner-operator. You must be either the sole owner or own a majority equity stake in a partnership firm.

Simply buying a business and appointing yourself as its employee is not enough to qualify as an owner-operator. A key parameter is whether your presence in Canada and participation in the business can help create job opportunities for locals or transfer skills or knowledge to Canadians.

The owner-operator visa is different from a passive investment immigration program. In this, the applicant must be an active participant in the business’s management.

You must have adequate business experience and have a good track record of forming and sustaining successful businesses. A detailed business plan is a vital part of this program. The authorities will also examine your business plan to evaluate its viability. It will also help them verify your business expertise and the control aspects.

LMIA Assessment

As you will be entering Canada as a skilled worker under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, your business (in this case, your employer) will apply for a Labor Market Impact Assessment. An approval for LMAI is a must for the approval of your appointment as an owner-operator worker.

The parameters applied by the authorities during LMIA assessment will be different for those acquiring an existing business and setting up a new business in Canada.

For Those Buying an Existing Business

If you are the sole owner of a business, then the LMIA assessment will depend on creating and retaining jobs for Canadians. It will also depend on the level of transfer of knowledge and skills to the local employees.

For Those Setting up New Businesses

While setting up a new business in Canada, you may find it challenging to fulfill the ‘Active engagement in the management of the business’ clause. You must amplify your role in various tasks related to running your business to prove this point while applying for LMIA and work permit.

After Getting An LMIA Approval

Once approved, you can start working for your business and plan to achieve permanent residence like any other skilled worker.

Create your Express Entry profile and apply through the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP).

As you already have a job offer from your own business, you can easily qualify and gain 200 points. You can also receive an ITA. You can also choose a PNP stream for skilled workers and benefit from the 600 points boost.

The owner-operator LMIA work permit offers you the easiest and fastest way of becoming a permanent resident. Make sure you consult an expert before you start your application process. SunnySpire has helped many foreign entrepreneurs become permanent residents of Canada by using the Owner-Operator Visa program. Contact us for more information about our immigration and consultancy services.

Free Immigration Assessment