Specialized Knowledge Workers for Canadian Immigration: What You Need to Know

by | Jul 6, 2023

If you’re a Canadian employer whose business relies on certain unique specialised tools, products, or processes, and you want to transfer employees to Canada, chances are those employees may fall into what is called a specialised knowledge category of workers. You may be able to apply for Canadian work permits on their behalf under the intra-company transferee program.

The Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) program in Canada allows Canadian employers with operations both inside and outside of Canada, in countries that are parties to applicable International Trade Agreements, to transfer employees to Canada. This program includes a category known as specialized knowledge workers, who may be eligible to apply for work permits in Canada.

Understanding the Specialized Knowledge Worker Category

To qualify as a specialised knowledge worker, an employee must meet two essential criteria. Firstly, they must possess advanced expertise in their particular area of operation. Secondly, they must have proprietary knowledge that is unique to the company and cannot be easily found elsewhere, especially within Canada.

Advanced Expertise: Industry Experience Matters

Advanced expertise refers to the employee’s industry experience and knowledge. For example, if a company operates in the technology sector and the employee has been working within the technology space, using various software, for a significant period of time, they may be deemed to possess the necessary advanced expertise. This expertise is developed through working within the company and the industry, gaining industry-specific skills and knowledge over time.

Proprietary Knowledge: Uniqueness is Key

Proprietary knowledge is the second prong of the specialised knowledge worker requirement. It entails the employee possessing knowledge that is exclusive to the company and cannot be easily replicated. The best way to demonstrate proprietary knowledge is by showing that the company has a particular product, tool, or software developed exclusively in-house. No other company has access to it, and the employee possesses unique knowledge about that specific tool, product, or procedure. This proprietary knowledge should be so specific that it would be challenging to find anyone else within Canada who can fulfil the duties that the employee is expected to carry out.

The Combination of Advanced Expertise and Proprietary Knowledge

The specialised knowledge category is formed by the combination of advanced expertise within the industry and the company, as well as very specific proprietary knowledge about tools, software, products, or procedures within the organisation. If you wish to bring an employee to Canada who possesses both proprietary knowledge and advanced expertise, there is a good chance that you may be able to bring them as a specialised knowledge worker under the intra-company transfer program. However, it’s important to note that this is subject to meeting other requirements of the program, including the condition that the employee has been employed in your company outside of Canada for at least one year within the last three years.


As a Canadian employer with international operations, you have the opportunity to bring specialised knowledge workers to support your Canadian operations through the intra-company transfer program. By understanding the criteria for specialised knowledge workers, including possessing advanced expertise and proprietary knowledge, you can assess whether your employees qualify for Canadian work permits under this category. Ensure you meet all the program requirements and consult with immigration experts to navigate the process smoothly and make the most of specialised knowledge workers for your business’s growth and success in Canada.


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