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The ICT (Inter-Company Transfer) Program in Canada: A Comprehensive Guide for Foreign Entrepreneurs

Canada, with its thriving economy and welcoming immigration policies, has become a hotspot for foreign entrepreneurs looking to expand their businesses. One such avenue is the Inter-Company Transfer (ICT) program, which allows foreign companies to transfer their employees to a Canadian branch, subsidiary, or affiliate. In this guide, we'll delve deep into the ICT program, its benefits, and how foreign entrepreneurs can leverage it to open a business branch in Canada and secure a work permit.

1. What is the ICT Program?

The ICT program is designed to facilitate the temporary transfer of key employees from a foreign company to its Canadian counterpart. This program is especially beneficial for multinational companies looking to establish a presence in Canada or support their existing operations.

Types of ICT Transfers:

  • Executives: Senior personnel who primarily direct the company's management or a major component.

  • Senior Managers: Individuals who oversee the organization, a department, or a function.

  • Specialized Knowledge Workers: Employees with specialized knowledge of the company's products, services, research, equipment, or techniques.

2. Benefits of the ICT Program

  • No Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) Required: Unlike other work permit categories, the ICT doesn't require an LMIA, which can be time-consuming and challenging to obtain.

  • Pathway to Permanent Residency: While the ICT work permit is temporary, it can be a stepping stone to Canadian permanent residency under certain conditions.

  • Spousal Work Permits: Dependents of ICT work permit holders may be eligible for open work permits, allowing them to work for any Canadian employer.

3. Establishing a Business Branch in Canada

Before transferring employees, the foreign company must have a qualifying relationship with the Canadian entity. This could be a parent company, branch, subsidiary, or affiliate.

Steps to Open a Business Branch:

  1. Incorporate a Business: Depending on the province, the process might vary. Generally, you'll need to choose a business name, complete the necessary paperwork, and pay the registration fee.

  2. Obtain Necessary Licenses: Depending on the business type and location, specific licenses or permits might be required.

  3. Open a Business Bank Account: Essential for managing your company's finances in Canada.

4. Securing a Work Permit under ICT

Once the business is established, the foreign company can initiate the ICT process.

Application Process:

  1. Determine Eligibility: Ensure the employee being transferred falls under the executive, senior manager, or specialized knowledge category.

  2. Gather Documentation: This includes proof of the qualifying relationship between the foreign and Canadian companies, job offer, and evidence that the employee has been employed continuously for at least one year in the last three years by the foreign company.

  3. Submit Application: Apply online through the Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) website.

  4. Await Decision: If approved, the employee will receive a Letter of Introduction and, if required, a visa to enter Canada.

5. Reference Links

  • IRCC's official guide on ICT

  • Canada Business Incorporation

  • LMIA Process and Requirements


The ICT program offers a seamless way for foreign entrepreneurs to expand their operations in Canada and transfer key employees. By understanding the process and requirements, businesses can leverage this program to tap into the Canadian market and enjoy the benefits that come with it. Always consult with an immigration lawyer or expert to ensure compliance with all regulations.

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