The intracompany transfer program permits international companies to temporarily transfer qualified employees to Canada for the purpose of improving management effectiveness, expanding Canadian exports and enhancing competitiveness in overseas markets.
A foreign national is eligible for an intracompany transfer to Canada under the following circumstances: they are currently employed by a multinational company seeking entry to work in a parent, a subsidiary, a branch or an affiliate of that enterprise; are transferring to an enterprise that has a qualifying relationship with the enterprise in which they are currently employed and will be undertaking employment at a legitimate and continuing establishment of that company (approximately 18 to 24 months); are being transferred to a position in an executive, senior managerial or specialized knowledge capacity; have been employed continuously – by payroll or by contract – directly with the company that plans to transfer them outside Canada in a similar full-time position for at least one year in the three-year period preceding the date of the application; are coming to Canada for a temporary period only; and comply with all immigration requirements for temporary entry. One can remember these criteria via our acronym EQREMSECTIR:
E – Employed by a multinational company seeking to work at a related enterprise in Canada;
QR – The Canadian and foreign businesses must have a qualifying relationship;
EMS – Seeking to enter an executive, senior managerial or skilled knowledge worker position in the Canadian enterprise;
EC – Was fulltime employed continuously in a similar position in the foreign company for at least one year in the preceding three years;
T – Is only coming to Canada on a temporary basis; and
IR – Meets all immigration requirements for temporary entry.
The following guidelines apply to startup companies. The company must generally secure physical premises to house the Canadian operation (particularly in the case of specialized knowledge); the company must furnish realistic plans to staff the new operation; the company must have the financial ability to commence business in Canada and compensate employees; when transferring executives or managers, the company must demonstrate that it will be large enough the support executive or management function, or, if transferring a specialized knowledge worker, the company must demonstrate that it is expected to be doing business and ensure that work is guided and directed by management at the Canadian operation. The initial work permit is one year (renewable on meeting conditions).
The following guidelines apply to the senior managerial and specialized knowledge categories: In the context of a recent corporate acquisition or merger, the applicant is not required to have worked for the named sending company for a year provided that the applicant has been working for one of the affiliates for at least one year in the previous three years as long as the new successor entity can demonstrate that it has assumed the interests and obligations and assets and liabilities of the original owner and continues to operate the same type of business as the original owner.
The maximum work permit durations are seven (7) years for executives and senior managers and five (5) years for specialized knowledge workers.
There must be a qualifying relationship between the Canadian and foreign employer. The Canadian and foreign enterprises must be entities that have a parent, subsidiary, branch or affiliate business relationship. Both companies must be or will be doing business; i.e. meaning regularly, systematically and continuously providing goods and/or services in Canada and the foreign country. A business enterprise is a legal entity constituted or organized under the law of the jurisdiction whether privately or publicly owned. A parent is a legal entity (e.g. firm, corporation) that has subsidiaries. A subsidiary is an entity of which a parent owns over half of it or in fact controls it. A branch is an operating division or office of the same organization housed in a different location. An affiliate is one of multiple subsidiaries.
There must be a qualifying relationship between the employer and the foreign worker. The intracompany transferee must have an employer-employee relationship with the Canadian branch of the company to which they are being transferred. The essential element in determining whether this relationship exists or not is whether the employer has the right to order and control the employee in the performance of their work. There is no requirement that the foreign national perform full-time service in Canada, nor that they be paid by the Canadian entity. Nonqualifying business relationships include those based on contracts, licensing arrangements and franchise agreements.
An executive is an employee who primarily: directs the management of the organization; establishes the organization’s goals and policies; exercises wide latitude in discretionary decision-making; and receives only general supervision or direction from higher level executives, the Board of Directors or stockholders of the organization.
A manager is an employee who primarily: manages the organization or one of its departments, subdivisions, functions or components; supervises and controls the work of other managers or supervisors or professional employees or manages an essential function within the organization or within one of its departments or subdivisions; if another employee is directly supervised, has the authority to make personnel decisions (hiring, firing, promotion and leave authorization), or, if there is no other employee directly supervised, functions at a senior level within the organization or hierarchy or with respect to the function managed; and exercises discretion over the day-to-day operations of the activity or function for which the employee has authority.
A functional manager means, in the context of this immigration program, an employee who manages an essential function of the company, but does not necessarily manage staff. Essential function means a function that is indispensable or important to achieving the organization’s goals. Factors that may support functional manager status include: providing coordination and guidance to other managers; having responsibility over assets or sales with a large dollar value; or directing the work of subcontracted firms.
A specialized knowledge worker is someone who has both “knowledge at an advanced level of experience” and “proprietary knowledge of the company’s product, service, research, equipment, techniques, or management”, and who can demonstrate their capacities in these two areas.