Two-Stage Immigration for Self-employed and Entrepreneurs – IMP Code C11

If you have a business mind and enough expertise you could immigrate to Canada in two stages.

  1. A temporary work permit under the IMP Code C11
  2. Immigrating to Canada under the Express Entry System

Please read this article carefully and remember, the immigration policies could change at any time. An option that is available today, may vanish tomorrow.

Stage 1 – Work Permit under the IMP Code C11

The International Mobility Program (IMP) paves the way to apply for a Work Permit without a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). The LMIA process is tedious and prone to refusal. Consequently, about two-thirds of those who receive Canadian work permits use one of the IMP programs (e.g. the Mobility Francophone, etc.). One of the IMP options is the LMIA exemption code C11. This code is for entrepreneurs or self-employed people who meet the following requirements*:

  • They have the skills and background to establish a successful business in Canada or purchase an existing one and turn it into a successful business
  • They own at least 50% of the business they establish or purchase in Canada
  • Their activities in Canada creates significant cultural, social, or economic benefits to our country (e.g. contributes to remote areas, creates jobs for Canadians, exports Canadian goods to other countries, contributes to technological development, shows to be innovative in nature, helps Canadians to hone their skills, etc.)
  • They present a business plan that is meaningful and viable
  • They have taken steps to make their plans happen prior to entering Canada (e.g. they have established the business, they have secured enough financial resources for the business, they have contacted parallel businesses in Canada, they have signed agreements with Canadian suppliers, etc.)

This work permit is limited to one applicant as the applicant needs to hold the controlling shares of the business. If you want to know more about this option read the following articles:

Stage 2 – Applying for Permanent Residency

IMP Code C11 work permit does not result in permanent residency by default. In fact, dual intention for permanent residency is currently limited to the following immigration options:

  • Immigration to Canadian provinces as a business person or entrepreneur (PNP programs)
  • Immigration to Quebec as a self-employed person

Despite limitations on dual intent, an applicant who moves to Canada under this program and works for at least one year could apply under the category of Federal Skilled Worker program through the Express Entry system. In order to apply for permanent residency you need to meet the following criteria:

I must emphasize that your intention, in the beginning, needs to be the Work Permit alone. If after a year of work experience you decide to immigrate to Canada, you may consider stage 2.

What Happens to the Family of the Applicant

If you receive a work permit to Canada which is valid for at least six months your spouse qualifies to receive an open work permit which allows her to work in Canada for any employer. Your minor children may also study in Canada without a study permit. Of course, an immigration officer has the final say to issue a work permit or visa for your dependent family members.

If you wish to visit or move to Canada or if you have encountered any issues with the immigration authorities, you may fill out our free assessment form or book a consultation session to assess your potential opportunities or offer you immigration, visa, or citizenship advice.

Al Parsai, MA, DTM, RCIC
Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant
Ashton College Instructor – Immigration Consulting
Author – 88 Tips on Immigration to Canada


This article provides information of a general nature only. It may no longer be current. It does not give legal advice nor should you rely on it as legal advice. If you have specific legal questions, you should consult a lawyer. If you are looking for immigration advice, book an appointment. All the characters in the articles are fictional, unless otherwise clearly stated. Any resemblance in names, dates, and places (whether individuals, organizations, regions, or countries) is coincidental.

* Resource: IRCC Operational Instructions: International Mobility Program: Canadian interests – Significant benefit – Entrepreneurs/self-employed candidates seeking to operate a business [R205(a) – C11]

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Al Parsai

Al Parsai is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC) in Toronto, Canada. He also teaches the official immigration consulting courses at Ashton College in Vancouver, Canada. Al who holds a Masters degree from Yorkville University is a member of ICCRC and CAPIC organizations. Al, the CEO of Parsai Immigration Services, has represented hundreds of applicants from more than 30 countries to the immigration authorities since January 2011.