Global Alerts

CANADA – CIC Announces Changes to Requirements for Intra-Company Transfer Work Permits

Effective immediately, Canada has implemented a more “rigorous” definition of specialized knowledge and mandatory wage requirements for Intra-Company transfer work permits (ICT). These changes are a result of the Canadian governments Economic Action Plan 2014, where it was stated that the government would introduce reforms to the LMO-exempt streams of Temporary Foreign Workers to ensure the program continues to promote Canada’s economic interests. The below criteria will be used by approving officers when assessing LMO-exempt work permit applications for Specialized Knowledge ICT’s.


Under the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), the Canadian government has defined ICT specialized knowledge as “knowledge at an advanced level of expertise” and “proprietary knowledge of the company’s product, service, research, equipment, techniques or management.” The Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) considers specialized knowledge to be knowledge that is unique and uncommon. This knowledge by definition will be held by only a small number or small percentage of employees within a given firm. Specialized knowledge workers must therefore demonstrate that they are key personnel and not simply highly skilled.

In order to have specialized knowledge to meet Canada’s requirements, an ICT applicant will be required to demonstrate a high degree of BOTH proprietary knowledge AND advanced expertise. It is important to note that proprietary knowledge only OR advanced expertise alone, will no longer qualify the applicant under an ICT with specialized knowledge.

The Canadian government has defined proprietary knowledge, advanced proprietary knowledge and advanced level expertise as the following:

  • Proprietary knowledge: Company-specific expertise related to a company’s product or services. It implies that the company has not divulged specifications that would allow other companies to duplicate the product or service.
  • Advanced proprietary knowledge: An applicant would be required to demonstrate
    • uncommon knowledge of the host firm’s products or services and its application in international markets; or
    • an advanced level of expertise or knowledge of the enterprise’s processes and procedures such as its production, research, equipment, techniques or management.
  • Advanced Level Expertise: Specialized knowledge that is gained through significant (typically gained through length of experience) and recent experience (within the last 5 years) with the organization and used by the individual to contribute significantly to the employer’s productivity.
    • In assessing such expertise or knowledge, a reviewing Canadian immigration officer will consider the following
      • abilities that are unusual and different from those generally found in a particular industry and that cannot be easily transferred to another individual in the short-term;
      • the knowledge or expertise must be highly unusual both within the industry and within the host firm;
      • it must be of a nature such that the applicant’s proprietary knowledge is critical to the business of the Canadian branch and a significant disruption of business would occur without the applicant’s expertise;
      • the applicant’s proprietary knowledge of a particular business process or methods of operation must be unusual, not widespread across the organization, and not likely to be available in the Canadian labor market. Example: Skill in implementing an off-the-shelf product would not, by itself, meet the standard of specialized knowledge; unless, for example, the product is new or being highly customized to the point of being a “new” product. In other words, an ICT applicant is more likely to have truly specialized knowledge if they directly contribute to the (re)development of a product, rather than to the implementation of a pre-existing product.


The CIC has determined that an ICT applicant who possesses the high level of specialized knowledge that has been defined within the recent announcement is uncommon in a particular industry. Therefore the applicant should receive a salary or wage consistent with an industry specialist. It is assumed that a specialist would receive an above average salary. This requisite sets a wage floor salary baseline for the assessment of applications.

Please note, the policy with respect to a mandatory wage does not apply to Specialized Knowledge ICT’s entering Canada pursuant to the NAFTA or to any future or current FTAs with coverage of LMO-exempt Specialized Knowledge ICTs, once in force.

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