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Understanding the Intra-company Transferee Program and Strengthening Your Application

Intra-company Transferee | ICT | LMIA Owner Operator Alternative

The Intra-Company Transferee (ICT) program has long been a favored business immigration program in Canada, but has become even more popular as business candidates with existing foreign entities seek alternatives to the LMIA owner operator program that was changed earlier this year.

Along with this influx of ICT business plan requests have come several questions about the program from our immigration lawyer and consultant partners as well as our clients. In order to address these, we have once again teamed up with an outside expert.  Our featured guest is Rakhmad Sobirovs, the managing lawyer at the boutique immigration legal practice Sobirovs Law Firm in Toronto.

Below are the main questions covered in the webinar, as well as several from the Q&A session at the end. You can read a summary of the answers below, fast forward to a specific question based on the indicated timestamp to hear the full response, or watch the recording in its entirety.

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Q: What is the ICT program and who is eligible? [11:10]

A: The ICT program is a pathway for foreign companies to be present in Canada. It is a work permit program, not a direct pathway to permanent residency for the transferee. It allows companies to purchase or start a business and send foreign employees to run and work in the company at an Executive, Manager, or highly skilled level, or to send such an employee from the foreign entity to work in an existing branch, subsidiary, or other related company (as defined by law) in Canada.

Main eligibility for companies includes

  • Being established as a company in a foreign country,
  • Financial capacity to expand your business to Canada, and
  • Existing relationship (or intent to start or form an eligible relationship) with a company in Canada

Q: What are the basic requirements of the transferee? [14:53]

A: Three main requirements:

  • Must have an employee relationship with the foreign company
  • Relationship should be for at least 12 months of the last 3 years
  • Must be an executive or manager, or have technical expertise

Q: Does it require the company to be established or can it be a new company? [19:01]

A: It can be a brand-new company; however, this will require more work. Typically, to be approved, you will need to show you are actively in the process of opening the new office.

Q: What is the timeframe and what are the steps for an applicant who wants to apply for an ICT? [22:58]

A: Timeframe can vary but can typically be done in as little as a month.

The steps include

  1. The immigration professional getting to know the client and verifies the ICT program is a good option.
  2. Starting the draft of the business plan.
  3. Simultaneously starting the incorporation process (if it’s a brand-new company).
  4. Providing a detailed list of required documents to the client to compile.
  5. Translating (if required) and preparing the documents, including review and finalization of the business plan.

Q: Is there a specific size requirement of the foreign company in terms of number of employees, revenue, or net worth? [30:16]

A: Generally speaking, size does not matter. There is no stated minimum but it is recommended to have revenue of at least $150,000 USD annually in the foreign entity. Plus, the company needs to be able to demonstrate they have enough funds to support the business plan in Canada.

Q: From the business plan standpoint, we see some questions that immigration raises in some cases, and they are mainly regarding the hiring plan. What should be considered regarding the hiring plan? Are the levels of hierarchy and the payroll expenses important for an ICT? [37:14]

A: The Canadian authorities are mainly concerned with the following:

  • The benefit the candidate brings to the country in terms of knowledge transfer, or possible technology, intellectual property, etc.
  • Who will be hired full-time in Canada, and 
  • The number of new positions that will be created in Canada

Q: Is the ICT program only for big multi-national companies or does it also work with small- or medium-sized companies abroad? [43:46]

A: The term “multi-national” is a bit misleading because small- or medium-sized companies who only have an office in their home country are still usually multi-national in the sense that they service clients from other countries, they export goods, they hire foreign contractors or import goods from abroad. Many small- and medium-sized businesses with only one office still qualify for the ICT program and, in fact, formally become a multi-national upon acquiring or starting a business in Canada.

Q: Does the activity that the company in Canada is going to do have to be the same activity in the company abroad or can the business model vary? [46:54]

A: There is no limitation in the law that you can’t do something different in Canada. That said, you want to keep it in the same field to have a strong business case.

Q: What is the percentage of success or failure of the ICT program in general? [49:38]

A: According to Canadian statistics pre-COVID, it depends on the location of where your application is processed but it is not less than 80% success.

Q: How does Joorney work with their partners (immigration lawyers, immigration consultants, etc.)? [54:55]

A: Three ways:

  • Outsourcing – Partner/firm is the point-of-contact and includes the business plan as part of their package.
  • Referral – Partner/firm sends the client to us and the client is our main point-of-contact. The contract and invoice are sent directly to them, but we still collaborate with the partner on the immigration strategy.
  • Mix Model – Custom-tailored partnership depending on the partner’s preference.

Q: What is Joorney’s process when taking on an ICT Business Plans? [56:21]

A: The process includes the following: 

  1. Questionnaire – We provide the applicant with a questionnaire to learn more about them, the parent company, and the business in Canada.
  2. Review – A project manager is assigned, reviews the information, and asks any additional questions needed to get started on the writing.
  3. Writing – We write the business plan and send the first draft in 7-10 business days.
  4. Revisions – We get your feedback and make changes until it’s just right! We offer unlimited revisions for ICT business plans.
  5. Deliver – Once approved, the plan is sent for final proofreading and to a designer to finalize the document.

Q: What makes an ICT business plan different from other business plans? [57:53]

A: We highlight all the unique aspects of the plan in line with the specific requirements of the ICT program, including the following:

  • Information about the Canadian company and the foreign entity
  • Focusing deeply on why the applicant is specifically needed to run the Canadian operation 
  • The personnel plan, as job creation is a factor 
  • Focusing on other benefits to Canada in terms of knowledge, tech, cultural impacts, etc.
  • Feasibility study to demonstrate the company has a high chance of success

Q&A Session [Starts at 1:02:00]

Q: How long does the foreign company need to be in operation? [1:02:20]

A: Minimum of one year but usually recommended to be 18 months or 2-3 years.

Q: Can one of the partners of a foreign company move to Canada? [1:02:42]

A: Eligibility is one year of employment, so if they were on payroll and serve at an executive, managerial, or key knowledge-holder capacity, then yes.

Q: If one of the Directors of a company moves to Canada under an ICT to run a subsidiary, would other Directors be able to join them in the future under an ICT as well? [1:03:17]

A: Short answer is yes, assuming all eligibility requirements are met. There are also other options for transferring employees which may be more suitable.

Q: What could be an alternative for the proof of evidence of one year of employment if the employee was either compensated in cash or there are no pay slips to accompany the experience from the parent company? [1:05:39]

A: This is a common practice in some countries. An employment contract may suffice, or accounting records. It is possible that this may create issues though, so it is best to discuss your specific case with an immigration lawyer or consultant.

Q: Are there any minimum net worth requirements for the ICT program? [1:08:01]

A: No, but there needs to be a realistic amount allocated to support the Canadian entity.

Q: Have you done an e-commerce business for the ICT program? [1:08:21]

A: No, more digital businesses than e-commerce. E-commerce may be eligible though, depending on the specifics of the business.

Q: Does the company need to have a Canadian shareholder? [1:09:46]

A: No

Q: Is it a problem if a company has the following situation: a mother company in the U.S. and subsidiary in Germany, and a senior manager in Germany is to be sent to the new branch in Canada. [1:10:09]

A: That should not be a problem but will depend on the specifics of the case.

Q: Does the ICT need at least one Director to be a Canadian resident or citizen? [1:11:21]

A: No, you can incorporate in several provinces without a Canadian director.

Q: If there is no entity outside of the home country, does that mean there is no chance of success? [1:11:49]

A: For ICT, you must have a mother corporation.

Q: Can the owner of the business transfer themselves to the company in Canada? [1:12:20]

A: It depends. They would have to be on payroll or otherwise employed by the company and actively involved in running the business.

Q: In terms of industries, let’s say the foreign entity wants to purchase a Canadian entity to facilitate the ICT. Are there any industries that have higher or lower success rates? [1:12:56]

A: There are certain types of businesses that Canada doesn’t like. A good place to look to get an idea would be the PNP program list of ineligible businesses for the specific province in which you want to locate. Each province also prefers certain types of businesses.

Q: If the specialist wants to apply for a program, do they need to register the same company in Canada without the employer participation? [1:17:52]

A: As an employee, you cannot just open a new branch of an existing foreign company in Canada. That decision must be made by senior management of the existing foreign entity.

Q: Is the ICT program applicable to any province, including Quebec? [1:22:04]

A: Quebec has their own regulations but otherwise every other province is open.

Q: What happens after a permit for one year of work is granted under the ICT? How can it be transformed to permanent residency? [1:19:00]

A: A few scenarios could play out here (but you should always consult a professional about your specific case):

  • Your spouse comes with you on an open work permit, gets a job in Canada, and can then apply with Canadian work experience and they become the principal applicant for permanent residency.
  • The Canadian company is now established and can hire you as an employee at a level that gives you express entry points.
  • If you are not eligible for permanent residency but you and your family become established in Canada, you may be able to apply under humanitarian and compassionate grounds.

If your clients are in need of assistance with an ICT or any other business immigration business plan, contact us today!

Rakhmad Sobirov

Guest Biography

Rakhmad Sobirovs – Manager Lawyer, Sobirovs Law

Sobirovs’ primary goal is to assist businesses, entrepreneurs, and investors from all over the world to relocate and succeed in Canada. The professional team at his firm helps clients navigate through Canada’s immigration system with ease and provides hassle-free immigration services.

Disclaimer: Joorney Business Plans Canada is not an immigration consultant, lawyer, or advisor and cannot be held responsible for damages incurred from the use of this information. If you require more information about a program, please contact a registered immigration professional.

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