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Intra-Company Transfers For International Businesses

Blog posted on by Evelyn Ackah in Canada Work Permits, Intra-Company Job Transfers, U.S. Immigration and Intra-Company Job Transfers - L-1 Visa

Intra-Company Transfers For International Businesses

If you currently work for a company that has a parent company, branch office, subsidiary, or affiliate company in Canada, you may qualify for a Canadian work permit through Canada's International Mobility Program (IMP) as an intra-company transfer. Qualified intra-company transferees provide a significant economic benefit to Canada by recruiting highly skilled global workers to enhance Canada's competitiveness in the global economy and improve Canada's managerial and technical skills.

Global companies often need to relocate key managers and skilled foreign workers to their operations in Canada if a local worker is not available to fill the job. Employers transferring international employees to Canada are typically exempt from the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) requirement. Intra-company transfers are typically faster, smoother and more cost-effective than LMIA work permits.

What Is An Intra-Company Transfer (ICT)

Intra-company transfers allow a foreign employee to work for the same company they worked for abroad. An intra-company transfer is when an employee is currently working for a company and that company wants to move the employee temporarily to a different country while they continue to work for the same company. Qualified intra-company transferees will require a Temporary Work Permit to work in either Canada or the United States.

There are two types of ICTs: NAFTA and non-NAFTA. Companies who want to transfer employees to either the United States or Canada as intra-company transfers can apply for Work Permits under both NAFTA (USMCA) and non-NAFTA provisions. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has benefits for U.S. and Canadian citizens who want to cross borders for business, including intra-company transferees.

Intra-Company Transfer Work Permits to Canada

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) oversees the qualifications and application process for intra-company work permits. Employees can qualify for a 1-year work permit that is renewable.

ICT Qualifications

Foreign workers in 3 categories are eligible to work in Canada under the Intra-Company Transfer program:

  • Executives and Senior Managers
    Senior-level employees who direct the company goals and policies, and are supervised by high-level executives, board members and stakeholders.
  • Functional Managers
    Supervise the work of other managers and professional employees or have high-value asset responsibilities.
  • Workers With Specialized Knowledge
    ICT employees who possess “knowledge at an advanced level of expertise” and “proprietary knowledge of the company’s product, service, research, equipment, techniques or management”.

ICT Work Permits

IRCC qualifications for an intra-company transfer to Canada include that applicants:

  • will need to obtain a Work Permit
  • must prove they are transferring from the same or a related company outside of Canada
  • have worked continuously for the company that plans to transfer them in a similar full-time position for at least one year in the most recent three-year period
  • have specialized knowledge, executive or senior management experience

How H-1B Visa Holders Can Get an Intra-Company Transfer to Canada

Many U.S. H-1B workers want to move to Canada due to the difficulty of getting and renewing an H-1B work visa. H-1B visa holders may qualify for an intra-company transfer to Canada. Canada is actively recruiting highly educated and trained immigrants, especially in high technology fields, and wants to keep qualified applicants as permanent residents.

Canada is the U.S.'s largest trading partner and home to many subsidiaries, branches, and affiliates of companies that operate in the U.S. Often these businesses can bring foreign workers to Canada as an intra-company transferee without first having to offer the job to Canadian citizens and permanent residents.

H-1B visa holders and employers who want to utilize the intra-company transfer category to Canada must meet all other IRCC qualifications for an intra-company transfer.

Intra-Company Transfer Work Permits to the United States
L-1A Visa and L-1B Visa

Executives, managers or workers with specialized knowledge who want to work and live in the United States can apply for a United States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) L-1 visa. An L-1 visa is a temporary non-immigrant visa that allows countries with reciprocal agreements to give employees outside the U.S. an intra-company transfer visa to work in the U.S. for 3 months - 5 years.

Both L-1A and L-1B visa classifications allow a foreign company without a U.S. office to send one of their executives or employees with specialized knowledge to the United States to open a new location.

L-1A Visa

An L-1A intra-company visa is for managers or executives who want to temporarily work in the United States. Qualifications for a USCIS L-1A intra-company transfer to the U.S. include:

  • There must be a relationship between the employer and the foreign company
  • The employer must be or will be doing business as an employer in the U.S. and one other country, though they are not required to be engaged in international trade
  • The employee must have been working for the company for one year within the previous three years
  • The employee must be entering the U.S. to provide managerial or executive level work for the company

L-1B Visa

A USCIS L-1B intra-company visa is for professionals with specialized knowledge who want to temporarily work in the United States. Qualifications for a USCIS L-1B include:

  • There must be a relationship between the employer and the foreign company
  • The employer must be or will be doing business as an employer in the U.S. and one other country, though they are not required to be engaged in international trade
  • The employee must have been working for the company for one year within the previous three years
  • The employee must want to enter the United States to provide services in a specialized knowledge capacity to a branch of the same employer or one of its qualifying organizations.

Do You Want to Transfer Employees to Canada or the U.S.?

Relocating international employees takes time and can be expensive, and involve complicated immigration laws and regulations. Employers have the best chance for a seamless intra-company transfer to Canada or the U.S. with the help of an immigration lawyer to guide you through the application process.

Evelyn Ackah and the Ackah Business Immigration Law team will work closely with your business and human resources team to offer expert guidance throughout the entire employee relocation process.

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Evelyn Ackah

Founder/Managing Lawyer

Ms. Ackah is passionate about immigration law because it focuses on people and relationships, which are at the core of her personal values. Starting her legal career as a corporate/commercial ...

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In my role leading Human Resources and Corporate Services environments over the years, it has been my pleasure to work with Ackah Business Immigration Law, engaging their services and legal counsel for a wide variety of immigration matters. I have found their practice to be professional, knowledgeable and responsive, always at the forefront in educating clients on the changing face of Immigration legislation and requirements. It is my pleasure to recommend Ackah Business Immigration Law as experts in their field.

– Marci Hamilton, Manager, Corporate Services

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