The Ultimate Guide to Canadian C11 Work Permit Visa [2024 Updated]

Get Canadian permanent residency by starting or buying a Canadian business through C11 Work Permit Visa. Here is a complete guide to C11 Work Visa for entrepreneurs.

Canada welcomes a large number of foreign entrepreneurs and self-employed individuals each year. Many individuals come to Canada through Intra-Company Transfer and Canada Investment Visa Programs. Others come to Canada through a lesser-known method of obtaining a C11 Work Visa for Entrepreneurs.

Although it offers many possibilities, the C11 Visa Category remains one of Canada’s least popular entrepreneur immigration pathways. At ELAAR, we’re committed to bringing light to this unique visa category. In this article, we explain the C11 Visa Canada and provide an overview of the process, eligibility requirements, and crucial application tips we have taken from our practice experience.

What is the C11 Work Permit?

The C11 Work Permit or C11 Visa Canada is a unique Canadian work permit visa issued under the International Mobility Program (IMP). It is provided to foreign entrepreneurs and investors who intend to work as self-employed individuals who can run a business in Canada.

The work permit is typically valid for two years, which gives candidates plenty of time to set up and operate their businesses. The C11 Work Permit can also be extended multiple times. Entrepreneurs and investors who come to Canada under a C11 Category Work Permit can apply for permanent residence once they have operated their business for a minimum of 12 months.

C11 Category Work Permit

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Who is Eligible for the C11 Work Entrepreneur Work Permit?

The C11 Entrepreneur Work Permit is typically issued to individuals under the following three categories:

Self-employed Individuals

Individuals currently self-employed in their home country can apply for the C11 work permit if they are interested in setting up a business in Canada.


Entrepreneurs with the finances to purchase and operate a business in Canada can apply for the C11 Entrepreneur Work Permit.

Provincial Nominee Program Entrepreneur Stream Candidates

Canada has dozens of provincial nominee programs that cater to entrepreneurs. Individuals selected under these programs can apply for the C11 work permit.

C11 Work Permit Requirements

Simply belonging to the above categories won’t make an individual eligible for the C11 work permit. They will also need to meet the C11 Work Permit requirements described below.

1. Applicant’s Qualifications

To apply for C11 Category Work Permit, an applicant must:

  • Have business ownership experience
  • Have good language proficiency
  • Possess enough funds to support themselves
  • Possess enough funds to purchase and/or operate their business in Canada

2. Ownership of Business in Canada

Applicants must also demonstrate that they have an ownership share of 50% or greater in the business they will be operating in Canada.

3. Business Plan

Applicants must create a comprehensive business plan that includes key information such as:

  • The proposed business model
  • Market research indicates a need for such businesses in Canada
  • The business’s hiring plan
  • The business’s pricing strategy for its products and services
  • Revenue forecasts

A well-made business plan will convince immigration officers to approve a C11 work permit application. For this reason, applicants must spend time creating a solid plan that conveys their commitment to operating a business in Canada.

4. Significant Benefit to Canada

Canadian immigration officers will also examine whether the applicant’s business presents a “significant benefit” to Canada. This benefit is assessed in the following ways.

Economic Benefit to the Canadian Economy: A business can benefit the Canadian economy in different ways. This includes:

  • Creating new jobs for Canadians
  • Promoting the development of small regional or remote settings
  • Contributing to Canadian exports

Candidates may stand a better chance of receiving a C11 Work Permit if their business satisfies each of these areas.

  • Advancing an Industry in Canada
  • A business can advance Canadian industries by:
  • Contributing to technological developments that other businesses can also implement
  • Innovating products and services to help the industry as a whole
  • Helping Canadian improve their skills

5. Groundwork in Canada

Canadian immigration officers are also more likely to approve a C11 work permit application if they see that the applicant has performed some groundwork beforehand. This includes:

  • Acquiring the funds needed to set up or purchase and operate the business
  • Creating Canadian contacts who will be vital in facilitating the business’s operations
  • Developing a staffing plan to rapidly hire qualified staff to run the business.
  • Selecting a location for the proposed business.

Success Factor for C11 Work Permit: Significant Benefit to Canada

The vast majority of Canadian business immigration programs require the applicant’s business to present a “significant benefit” to Canada, and the C11 work permit application is no different. This requirement is essential because it helps Canadian immigration officers filter out applicants with business propositions that will benefit Canada.

For example, Canadian immigration officers aren’t likely to approve an applicant who has proposed setting up a small family business such as a dry cleaning service. This is because the business’s “family operated” aspect indicates the business owner likely won’t hire additional Canadian staff to run it.

For this reason, all applicants should ensure their proposed business idea meets the “significant benefit” criteria described above.

C11 Work Permit Application Process

Applying for a C11 work permit is a multi-step process. The main steps are summarized below:

1. Choose Between Setting Up or Purchasing a New Business in Canada

The first step is deciding whether to set up or purchase a new business in Canada. This is an important decision as each carries distinct benefits and drawbacks that will impact your chance of succeeding.

If you need guidance in this area, please get in touch with Elaar Immigration. Our Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants have many decades of business experience and can assist you with making the right choice.

2. Conduct Market Research and Create a Business Plan

Your business plan will be crucial for convincing Canadian visa officers to issue you a C11 work permit. For this reason, you should spend ample time performing research. This includes market research that shows a vital need for businesses like the one you intend to operate in Canada.

  • Your proposed business model
  • Your business’s hiring plan
  • Your business’s pricing strategy for its products and services
  • Revenue forecasts

3. Begin Executing Your Business Plan

It is essential to start executing the business plan you have created before submitting your C11 work permit application. This is because it will demonstrate your commitment to starting and operating your business in Canada.

This execution plan will vary from person to person. However, it will generally include tasks such as:

  • Depositing money to the accounts, you will use to set up and operate your business
  • Choosing the location for your future business
  • Gathering business contacts that will facilitate your business operations

4. Fill Out and Submit Your C11 Work Permit Application

After completing all the steps mentioned above, you can finally start filling out your C11 work permit application. This application isn’t difficult to complete. However, you will need to provide many supporting documents to back the claims you have made and demonstrate your efforts to start or purchase your business in Canada.

This includes documents related to:

  • Business ownership or work experience
  • Business purchase agreements
  • Finances
  • Support letters from Canadian suppliers and vendors

Once you have completed your application and gathered all the relevant documents, you can submit them to Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). They will then contact you to submit your biometrics, such as fingerprints and medical examination results.

5. Wait For Your Application to Be Approved

The C11 work permit processing time is between one and three months. IRCC will review your application and inform you once they reach a decision. If they approve your application, you should start planning your journey to Canada immediately.

6. Come to Canada

Once you arrive at the Canadian border, a Canadian Border Services Agent will verify your identity and issue you your C11 work permit. This document will allow you to operate your business in Canada.

Please note that this special two-year work permit does not allow you to work for other employers in Canada. It was designed for you to use in your business operations.

7. Run Your Business and Apply for Permanent Residence

Now that you are in Canada, you can start operating your business as outlined in your business plan. You should run your business to the best of your ability and ensure it is profitable.

Once you have operated the business for at least 12 months, you can apply for permanent resident status through the Express Entry system’s Federal Skilled Worker Program.

You should note that the Federal Skilled Worker Program has specific requirements that differ from the C11 work permit’s requirements. For this reason, you should review these requirements carefully and ensure you meet them before applying for permanent residence.

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Benefits of the C11 Work Permit

The C11 work permit offers many benefits over other work permits and Canadian immigration routes. This includes:

  • Being Self-Employed and Becoming Eligible for PR Quickly: You can work for yourself in your business and become eligible to apply for permanent residence within one year.
  • No Funding Support Required: You don’t need to acquire funding support from designated agencies in Canada. This is a requirement for other business immigration programs such as the Start-Up Visa.
  • No Minimum Investment or Net Worth Requirements: You can invest as much or as little as you want without restrictions. You also need not possess a high net worth to qualify for a C11 work permit.
  • Your Family Can Come to Canada With You: Your spouse and children can accompany you to Canada. Your spouse will be eligible to apply for an open work permit and work in the country.
  • Similarly, your children will be eligible to apply for a study permit and study. These family members will also be eligible to access the health care system in the province you settle in.
  • An Alternative to the Owner-Operator Program: The C11 work permit is an excellent replacement for the Owner-Operator Program, amended in April 2021. Like the C11 work permit, this program also offered foreign entrepreneurs and businesspeople a work permit to come to Canada and run a business.
Benefits of C11 Work Permit

Types of Business Eligible For The C11 Entrepreneur Work Permit

The C11 work permit may be issued for both seasonal and non-seasonal businesses.

Seasonal Businesses Eligible For C11 Work Permit

  • Moving companies
  • Outdoor adventure businesses
  • Chimney sweeper companies
  • Lawn care businesses
  • Christmas and Halloween merchandise retailers
  • Personal trainers
  • Coaches

Non-Seasonal Business Industries Eligible For C11 Work Permit

  • IT
  • Aerospace
  • Forestry
  • Automotive
  • Cleantech
  • Tourism
  • Mining
  • Life sciences
  • Food & beverage production
  • Robotics and industrial automation
  • Biochemical & Chemical
  • Financial services

How Elaar Immigration Can Help?

As you can see, there are many considerations when applying for a C11 Entrepreneur work permit. Please get in touch with our experts if you need help with your business plan and work permit application.

Our team of Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants is familiar with the application process for the C11 work permit. They also possess extensive business experience and can guide you in creating a robust business plan that boosts your application’s chances of being approved. Contact Elaar Immigration today and start your business immigration journey to Canada.

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Move to Canada as an Entrepreneur by setting up a business through the C11 Work Permit Visa.