International Mobility Program: Canadian interests – Significant benefit – Intra-company transferees – General requirements [R205(a)] (exemption code C12)

This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada staff. It is posted on the Department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.

Intra-company transferees may apply for work permits under the general provision if they

  • are currently employed by a multi-national company and 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 (where 18–24 months can be used as a reasonable minimum guideline);
  • are being transferred to a position in an executive, senior managerial, or specialized knowledge capacity;
  • have been employed continuously (via payroll or by contract directly with the company), by the company that plans to transfer them outside Canada in a similar full-time position (not accumulated part-time) for at least one year in the three-year period immediately preceding the date of initial application. Extensions may be granted up to the five- and seven-year maximums referred to in the section Breaks, recaptured time and duration of work permit limit below and in the section on the categories of work with validity periods which may not be exceeded. Documented time spent outside Canada during the duration of the work permit can be “recaptured” to allow the intra-company transferee five or seven full years of physical presence in Canada;

    Note: If the applicant has not had full-time work experience with the foreign company, the officer should consider other factors before refusing the applicant solely on this basis, such as the following:

    • the number of years of work experience with the foreign company;
    • the similarity of the positions (e.g., is the applicant coming to work for a short period of time versus coming from a part-time position to a full-time long-term position?);
    • the extent of the part-time position (i.e., two days a week versus four days a week);
    • signs that this is an abuse of the intra-company transferee provision.
  • are coming to Canada for a temporary period only;
  • comply with all immigration requirements for temporary entry.

Guidelines when assessing start-up companies

Requirements for the company

  • Generally, the company must secure physical premises to house the Canadian operation, particularly in the case of specialized knowledge. However, in specific cases involving senior managers or executives, it would be acceptable that the address of the new start-up not yet be secured; for example, the company may use its counsel’s address until the executive can purchase or lease a premise.
  • 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 to support executive or management function.
  • When transferring a specialized knowledge worker, the company must
    • demonstrate that it is expected to be doing business;
    • ensure that work is guided and directed by management at the Canadian operation.

Duration of work permits

  • Initial work permit: one year
  • For renewals, evidence should be provided that
    • the Canadian and foreign companies still have a qualifying relationship;
    • the new office has engaged in the continuous provision of goods or services for the past year;
    • the new office has been staffed.

Eligibility criteria applicable to both the senior managerial and specialized knowledge categories

In the context of a recent corporate acquisition or merger, it is not a requirement that the applicant has 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, assets and liabilities of the original owner, and continues to operate the same type of business as the original owner.

Example: A software design company from the United States, ABC ltd., wishes to transfer an applicant to its affiliate in Canada. This American company recently acquired a smaller software design company in the United States and wishes to transfer an employee from the acquired company to its affiliate in Canada. The applicant has been working continuously with the smaller company for over 10 years in a highly specialized technical position similar to the one he will assume in Canada. Since ABC ltd. has assumed the interests and obligations of the smaller software company and continues to operate the same type of business, the applicant may be considered for intra-company transfer.

For more information, see Guide to mergers and acquisitions.

Intra-company transferees are not necessarily required to re-locate to Canada. However, they are expected to actually occupy a position within the Canadian branch of the company; there should be a clear employer-employee relationship with the Canadian company, and the Canadian company should be directing the day-to-day activities of the foreign worker. This is especially important for employees working at client sites and not at the parent, branch, affiliate, or subsidiary.

If an applicant is not going take a position in a Canadian branch, officers should examine whether they might better be classified as a business visitor, which includes provisions for after-sales service (see Authorization to work without a work permit – Business visitor).

Rather than issuing multiple short-term permits for each specific project, a work permit for a maximum duration of one year may be issued for a number of specific projects. This applies to projects taking place at the company premises in Canada or at a client site (generally seen as applicable for persons the company needs to transfer for their specialized knowledge). Long-term work permits (more than one year) in the intra-company transferee category should not be issued for service personnel living outside Canada whom the company wishes to parachute into a client site of the international company on an as-needed basis.

Documentation requirements

The following documentation is required:

  • confirmation that the foreign national is currently employed by a multi-national enterprise outside Canada, and seeking entry to work in a parent, subsidiary, branch, or affiliate of that enterprise in Canada;
  • confirmation that the foreign national has been employed (via payroll or by contract) continuously (full-time, not accumulated part-time) by the enterprise outside Canada, in a similar full-time position, for at least one year within the three-year period immediately preceding the date of initial application;
  • outline of the applicant’s position in an executive or managerial capacity or one involving specialized knowledge (i.e. position, title, place in the organization, job description);
  • in the case of “specialized knowledge”, evidence that the person has such knowledge and that the position in Canada requires such knowledge;
  • outline of the position in Canada (namely, position, title, place in the organization, job description);
  • indication of intended duration of stay; and
  • description of the relationship between the enterprise in Canada and the enterprise in the foreign country (the officer may request tangible proof to establish the relationship between the Canadian and foreign organization wishing to make the transfer).

Breaks, recaptured time and duration of work permit limit

Breaks in Canadian service

Most foreign nationals who have worked in Canada under the intra-company transferee category may again receive consideration under this category if they have been on an assignment with a branch of the same company in a foreign jurisdiction for at least 12 months. This includes all NAFTA applicants pursuant to the exemption code T24 and specialized knowledge applicants under the exemption code C12. Refer to the categories of work with validity periods which may not be exceeded.

For example, a foreign national who worked in Canada as a specialized knowledge worker for two years for the Canadian entity, then transferred to an Australian branch of the same company for two years, would be eligible for consideration under the intra-company transferee provisions as a specialized worker for another five-year period, with the initial work permit not exceeding the three-year maximum duration under the exemption code C12.

Recaptured time

Normally, the duration of the work permit will be used to calculate the maximum five- or seven-year time limit. However, documented time spent not working—either inside or outside Canada—during the duration of the work permit can be “recaptured” to allow the intra-company transferee five or seven full years of physical presence in Canada.

For example, if an intra-company transferee senior manager has a work permit for 1 year and spends 2-month stints over the course of the 12 months working in the United States, then only 8 months would count against their 7-year limit as an intra-company transferee.

Note: Recapture will not be permitted for any time periods of less than one month or for events that are generally anticipated throughout the duration of a work permit, such as vacation or weekends.

Maximum allowed for recapture

The duration of the recaptured time cannot exceed the cap allowed for the particular type of intra-company transferee, i.e., seven years for managers or executives, or five years for specialized knowledge workers. Recaptured time will be issued—as extensions, and in increments of no more than two years—from the date that has been determined within the cap period after the time not worked has been deducted. In other words, if an intra-company transferee has reached their seven-year cap and has documented evidence of time spent not working that is equal to two years, then they may apply for a two-year extension. Remarks on the work permit should state that no recaptured time may subsequently be requested for any time not worked during that two-year extension period. System notes in regard to cases where recaptured time requested has been authorized must be clear for the benefit of officers processing future extension requests.

Intra-company transferee duration of work permit limit

After intra-company transferees have reached their maximum work permit duration (seven years for executives and senior managers, and five years for specialized knowledge workers), they must complete one year of full-time employment in the company outside Canada if they wish to re-apply as an intra-company transferee. This requirement, which exists in NAFTA, applies to all intra-company transferees, whether they enter under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act general provisions of paragraph R205(a) or under the international trade agreement provisions of paragraph R204(a). It also applies to foreign nationals who wish to switch from a work permit issued under paragraph R205(a) to a work permit issued under paragraph R204(a).

Harmonization of NAFTA and the general provisions will help employers in human resource planning and simplify the administration of intra-company transferee provisions for foreign nationals and for immigration and visa officers.

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