Entrepreneurs or self-employed individuals seeking only temporary residence – [R205(a) – C11] – International Mobility Program

This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by IRCC staff. It is posted on the department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.

In these instructions “officer” refers to employees of both Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada and the Canada Border Service Agency.

The instructions on this page should be reviewed in conjunction with

There are 2 categories of foreign nationals who seek entry to Canada as business owners. Those who only seek entry for a temporary, usually seasonal, purpose to run their existing business (usually self-employed people) and those who seek entry to start or run their business to meet the requirements for provincial nomination or selection as an entrepreneur (including Quebec) or for the federal Start-up Business Class.

Self-employed: A person who works for themselves as the owner of a business and rarely hires people outside of their family members. While many individuals are the owners of the business, they typically carry out all the responsibilities of an employee.

Entrepreneur: A person who organizes and operates a business or businesses, taking on greater than normal financial risks to do so. They hire employees other than their family members to carry out the activities of the business.

Important: Work experience gained as a self-employed person or as an entrepreneur does not qualify for experience in the Canadian Experience Class.

There are specific situations that IRCC considers, by policy, as meeting the requirements of paragraph 205(a) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations, where the work of a foreign national creates significant social, cultural or economic benefits, or opportunities for Canadian citizens or permanent residents. The department has created Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) exemption categories (using unique administrative codes) to capture different considerations for those specific situations.

C11 is the administrative LMIA exemption code that covers the work of certain foreign nationals entering Canada to run their own business, which will create significant benefits. For workers who do not meet the specific considerations for a C11 exemption, officers may still assess them on a case-by-case basis, possibly under the broader LMIA exemption code C10 also used for assessment under R205(a).

On this page

Eligibility as a temporary self-employed worker or entrepreneur

Foreign nationals seeking to operate their own business in Canada as a self-employed person or as an entrepreneur must demonstrate that

Seasonal businesses (such as bed and breakfast operators, gold miners and wildlife guides) are examples of self-employment that is temporary in nature.

Year-round businesses (such as automotive repair shops or hair-dressing salons) would require more evidence that the foreign national only intends to remain for a temporary period. Officers may request a plan from the foreign national on how they will hire someone to manage their business after start-up.

Foreign nationals with the intention of obtaining permanent residence should be assessed under Provincial business candidates or Quebec self-employed applicants approved for a Quebec selection certificate seeking eventual permanent residence.

Documentary evidence

Officers should be aware that for entrepreneurs and self-employed people, the foreign national is both employer and employee. They must meet the requirements for both roles.

To prove eligibility, a foreign national must provide

Note: The IMM 5802 form is authorized only in rare situations. Instructions are available in the Employer Portal enrollment guide. Officers must confirm that the IMM 5802 form was authorized (by checking the client note) before processing the work permit application.

Important: It is the applicant who must provide sufficient supporting documentation to satisfy an officer that they will be engaging in genuine business activities and show how they provide a significant social, cultural or economic benefit with their application.

Fields to review from the offer of employment in the Global Case Management System (GCMS)

When assessing the significant benefit of the self-employed person’s or entrepreneur’s work, officers should review the following fields under the Employment Details tab in the Global Case Management System (GCMS) for information provided by the employer (who may also be the work permit applicant) or the matching fields on the IMM 5802 form (if authorized).

Field Considerations

LMIA Exemption Title and Code

The employer is required to select this from a drop-down list of values in the Employer Portal. This code cannot be changed on the offer of employment.

Employers should select C11 – Entrepreneurs / self-employed candidates seeking to operate a business – R205(a).

Requirements Exemptions Met

Information in this field outlines how the self-employment will benefit Canada, not just the worker and their family members.

See Significant benefit considerations(opens in a new tab) .

If the employer only indicates See attached, there should be a document uploaded to GCMS under the Organization ID screen and the Offer of Employment – Attachments view.

NOC and Job Title

For self-employed applicants: The National Occupation Classification (NOC) and the job title should match the duties described and not be the generic entrepreneurial code.

For example, if the self-employment is “Gold Miner”, then they could use NOC 8614 Mine labourer or 9411 Machine operator, depending on the exact nature of their intended work.

For entrepreneurs:
Generic NOC code: 88888
Job title: Entrepreneur


Officers should review the duration of employment as specified in the offer. This should be an indication of how long the foreign national is expecting to stay.


These are the activities that the foreign national will be performing. Do they align with the significant benefit and the activities required for entrepreneurship?

Job Requirements

Are there specific requirements that align with the benefit? For example, experience managing a business in the same industry sector, proof of cultural status, experience in the occupations in the business or language requirements to perform the work.

Minimum Education Requirements

Are the educational requirements compatible with the stated significant benefit outlined in the Offer of Employment?

The client’s education may have some bearing on whether the client meets the job requirements; however, its relative weight may be less if their work experience is sufficient.

Other Training Required

The self-employed worker may require specialty training as a requirement. For example, food safety training if running a restaurant or workplace hazard training.

Provincial/Federal Certification, Licencing or Registration

Documented evidence should be provided with the application. However, some occupations may require the foreign national to write an exam after they enter Canada (for example, for a licence from a regulated body or a first aid certificate).

For the self-employed applicant, this could also include municipal business licences or membership in an occupational association.

Refer to Employer-specific work permits with Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) exemptions (International Mobility Program) for further guidance on reviewing offers of employment.

Significant benefit considerations for temporary self-employed or entrepreneurs

In addition to the considerations provided in Significant benefit to Canada [R205(a) – C10], officers should assess any spin-off benefits from the self-employment.

Questions to consider in determining whether paragraph R205(a) is met (regardless of what percentage of the business in Canada is owned) include, but are not limited to, the following:

When officers are reviewing the significant benefits of the proposed business, it is not necessarily the type of business (sole proprietorship, franchise, corporation, etc.) that makes it a significant benefit or even how much is spent on it. Instead, it is how it provides opportunities for Canadians or permanent residents, or a benefit to a local or regional economy.

For example, a convenience store located on Yonge Street in Toronto that hires 2 extra people would not make any real difference to any local economy, and 2 extra jobs is not significant.

But if that same convenience store is established in a small rural area where the nearest grocery store is 20 kilometres away, then it may be a benefit as it would hire from a much smaller pool of local people where jobs may be scarce, and it could enhance the economies of other businesses around it by attracting people to the area.

Or to use a franchise example, is it the only Tim Hortons in the town and therefore attracting people into the town from a much broader area? Or is it 1 of many in a small radius in a city where the opening would not have a significant impact?

Degree of ownership

The issuance of work permits for temporary self-employed workers or entrepreneurs should be considered only when the applicant controls at least 50% of the business in question.

Where an individual is a partial owner with a smaller percentage and is coming to work in the business, they are required to apply for a work permit as an employee rather than as a self-employed person and may therefore require a LMIA.

If there are multiple owners, only one owner is generally eligible for a work permit pursuant to paragraph R205(a), unless exceptional circumstances can be demonstrated. While IRCC does not want to discourage investment in Canada, these guidelines are intended to prevent the transfer of minority shares solely for the purpose of obtaining a work permit. Exceptional circumstances could include situations where both owners have a specialty knowledge in the business. For example, one owner is the registered hunting guide and the other owner is the chef. In these situations, the occupation in the offer of employment should reflect their actual positions.

A virtual employer-employee relationship, or the appearance of such, is not a true reflection of a business operation. For more information, see Qualifying relationship between the employer and the foreign worker.

Note: ESDC stopped issuing owner/operator LMIAs that did not require an advertising period on April 1, 2021. ESDC’s public website states that “The Owner/Operator category has been removed from the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) as of April 1, 2021. This category allowed applicants to apply for a work permit without having to do the advertising requirement of the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).”

Long-term self-employed applicants and temporary purpose [R200(1)(b)]

Officers must be satisfied, as per paragraph R200(1)(b), that the foreign national will leave Canada at the end of their period of authorized stay. Officers can review the general instructions for all temporary residents for further information.

Although applicants may have a dual intent to seek status as temporary workers and, eventually, as permanent residents, they must always satisfy the officer that they will leave Canada at the end of the temporary period authorized under section R185. The applicant must be able to demonstrate that their work in Canada will be of a temporary nature, that they maintain the capacity and willingness to leave Canada, and that they maintain stronger ties to their residence outside of Canada.

Note: Any period of self-employment is not calculated toward the period of work experience for the Canadian Experience Class

Foreign nationals who have repeatedly been issued work permits over several years with no break in stay might no longer meet R200(1)(b). Foreign nationals who leave Canada for frequent short breaks, but spend the majority of their time in Canada should be closely examined to ensure that they have not become a deemed resident of Canada. A person may become a deemed resident of Canada for taxation purposes if they spent 183 days of a year in Canada.

If the foreign national has been in Canada for several years and appears to have primarily established their life here, officers should request additional evidence of ties to their home country and plans for departing Canada at some point. Foreign nationals should not become de facto permanent residents simply because they are self-employed in their own business.

If officers have concerns about the temporary nature of the work in Canada, they can limit the duration of a work permit to a specific season or period. See Conditions of the work permit including validity period.

In addition to being satisfied of the temporary nature of the work, the officer should also confirm that the self-employment continues to provide a significant benefit. See the instructions in General guidelines for significant benefit.

Work permit issuance in GCMS

The work permit will be issued under the authority of paragraph 205(a).

Under the Application screen, officers should enter the information below in the specified fields.

Field Selection or input

Case type

52 when the offer of employment is submitted through the Employer Portal and an “A” number exists

20 only when authorized to submit the IMM 5802 form

Province of destination

The province of destination entered by the applicant should match the address of employment in the LMIA-exempt offer of employment. This information is under the Employment Details – LMIA-exempt tab.

City of destination

The city of destination entered by the applicant should match the address of employment in the LMIA-exempt offer of employment. This information is under the Employment Details – LMIA-exempt tab.

Exemption code


This code is auto-populated from the LMIA-exempt offer of employment. This code should only be changed in specific circumstances. For further instructions, see Changes between the offer of employment and the work permit application.


The NOC code is auto-populated from the LMIA-exempt offer of employment. Self-employed people should indicate their occupation.

Intended occupation

Job title

This is auto-populated from the LMIA-exempt offer of employment.

LMIA/LMIA-exempt #

“A” number generated from the Employer Portal when a foreign national submits an offer of employment. (For self-employed people or entrepreneurs, the foreign national is both employer and employee.)

Normally, this number is auto-populated from the work permit application, and it is what is used to “match” in the Portal.

If the work permit application was submitted on paper or as a verbal application at a port of entry, the officer must manually enter the number.


Business operating name


Officers should not issue a work permit with a duration exceeding 12 months as the work is to be temporary in nature, unless the foreign national can show that they have a definite plan to transition out of managing the business.

Refer to Validity period for work permits.

Note: When the foreign national is both employer and employee, as in the self-employed situation, they are subject to regulatory imposed conditions based on the information provided in the offer of employment in addition to the conditions imposed on the work permit.

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