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Leveraging the Intra-Company Transfer Program: A Strategic Guide for Multinational Businesses

Blog posted on by Evelyn Ackah

Leveraging the Intra-Company Transfer Program: A Strategic Guide for Multinational Businesses

According to HSBC, Canada is the second-most-attractive foreign market for multinational expansion – falling just behind the United States. Each year, countless foreign businesses set up new offices and branches in Canada. These companies are attracted by numerous factors – including a stable economy, skilled workers, and a relatively high number of high-net-worth individuals. If you are thinking about expanding your business into Canada, there has never been a better time. Canada attracts foreign businesses with its “intra-company transfer program,” an immigration program specifically geared toward organizations that wish to establish themselves in the True North. However, this immigration program can be quite complex. An immigration lawyer in Canada can help you and your employees get the most out of intra-company transfers.

Why Expand into Canada?

Unlike many other nations, Canada was relatively unaffected by the 2008 financial crisis – suggesting a degree of economic resilience. It also shares many similarities with Western nations – particularly English-speaking countries. Although there are a few minor differences, Canada’s approach to corporate and business law largely mirrors that of the United Kingdom and the United States. Business owners familiar with these general practices will find Canada a familiar corporate landscape. At the same time, Canada offers opportunities to a wider range of potential businesses because of its bilingual identity. If you are expanding your business into Canada from a French-speaking nation, you might also find many familiarities waiting for you in Canada.

Canada also has many geographical advantages. These include significant natural resources and access to both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. It shares a border with the United States, giving companies access to the largest consumer market on the planet. Compared to the United States, Canada has potentially lower corporate taxation rates. Finally, there are many existing companies within Canada that foreign investors can buy. This provides opportunities for foreign investors who wish to relocate to Canada but lack their own businesses.

The International Mobility Program in Canada

Canada allows foreign companies to expand into its territory using the “International Mobility Program.” Under this program, foreign companies can temporarily transfer employees to Canada for management purposes or to expand exports. They can also send workers who specialize in boosting international competitiveness.

A key benefit of this program is the fact that Labour Market Impact Assessments (LMIAs) are not required. Perhaps most importantly, Canadian companies can send managers and executives to Canada to establish a new branch or satellite office. They can do this even if the company has never before engaged in business within Canada.

What About Sending Canadian Employees to the United States?

Of course, many Canadian companies might also wish to send employees to the United States. This is an obvious move for many reasons. First, the United States represents the greatest consumer market in the world – and it is right on Canada’s doorstep. Secondly, Canadian employees might gain unique experiences and skills when working in the United States – specifically in regard to innovative industries.

Canadian companies can leverage the L-1 visa to send qualifying employees and managers to the United States. They can utilize this program even if they are expanding into the United States for the first time.

The L-1A Visa is most suitable for this venture, as the United States clearly states that companies may use it to send a manager into the nation to establish an American office for the first time.

There are many requirements and processes to consider for Canadian companies planning to leverage the L-1A visa. First, the manager in question must have a qualifying relationship with the foreign company. In other words, they must be an established representative of that organization, having worked with the company for a certain period of time.

Secondly, they must plan to conduct business in the United States as an employer. In other words, the company must plan to create jobs for domestic American workers. If you want to send a worker to the United States for the purpose of expansion, this individual must have been at your company for at least one year. In addition, they must fulfill an executive or managerial role once they arrive in the United States.

Another important requirement is the securement of office premises. You must organize a physical space for the company’s new branch before you send your managerial employee. The United States immigration authorities expect you to begin conducting business within one year of the manager’s arrival.

What if My Worker Wants to Stay in the United States?

Canadian companies often send managers who wish to stay in the United States for extended periods of time. This often makes sense for both personal and business reasons. After all, a manager might need many years to ensure the healthy growth of a new US branch. They might also plan to bring their families to the United States, perhaps enrolling their children in schools and purchasing a residence.

The good news is that an L-1A visa is a common “stepping stone” toward permanent residence and even citizenship for entire families. Alternatively, companies can continuously renew L1-A visas – potentially beyond the normal 7-year maximum. Speak with an experienced business immigration lawyer in Canada for more information.

The L-1 Visa May Be Even Easier for Canadians

United States immigration authorities have a history of offering Canadians special privileges when it comes to intra-company transfers. For example, the USCIS launched a special pilot program that streamlined processing times for various forms, including Form I-129 and I-129S.

This pilot program revolved around the principles of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which promotes greater cooperation between Canada, the United States, and Mexico. Although this pilot program eventually expired, it suggests that the United States may be more accepting of Canadian L-1A applicants compared to applicants from other nations.

Contact Ackah Law Today

If you are ready to expand your company into Canada, Ackah Law can help make this process as streamlined as possible. With our assistance, you can take full advantage of the intra-company transfer program. Canada is filled with potential customers, and your expansion could be a shrewd business decision. Sending your workers to Canada is easier than ever, and they could set up your new branch within just a few months. That being said, you might face numerous challenges as you apply for an intra-company transfer work permit. To overcome these challenges, consider a consultation with us at your earliest convenience.



Evelyn L. Ackah, BA, LL.B.

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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