Last Updated on November 4, 2021
In Canada’s West Coast province of British Columbia, more than 50 communities are signalling their readiness to participate in the second phase of a pilot program to attract and welcome immigrant entrepreneurs.
The BC PNP Entrepreneur Immigration (EI) Regional Pilot was introduced in March 2019 to attract immigrant entrepreneurs to smaller regional centres in the province.
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“Over the past two years, the pilot has demonstrated its ability to attract entrepreneurs from around the world and to contribute to regional economic development needs, despite the impacts of COVID-19,” claims the province in a statement.
BC Welcomes 300 New Immigrants Through Business Programs During Pandemic
Although the pandemic closed borders and put a damper on air travel, British Columbia was still able to welcome 300 new permanent residents under its business class of economic immigration programs from the start of last year to the end of August this year, data from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) reveals.
After falling precipitously last year by 21,740 new permanent residents, or almost 43.3 per cent, from 50,230 in 2019 due to COVID-19, immigration to British Columbia is rebounding strongly this year.
In the first eight months of 2021, the province welcomed 37,675 new permanent residents, putting it on track to exceed its immigration total in the last year before the pandemic by 12.5 per cent.
Under the BC PNP EI Regional Pilot, foreign entrepreneurs interested in starting a new business in a smaller community can qualify if they:
- establish an eligible new business aligned with the priorities of the referring community;
- show business and/or management experience;
- have a personal net worth of at least $300,000;
- make an eligible personal investment of at least $100,000 in the business;
- create at least one new full-time job for a Canadian citizen or permanent resident;
- demonstrate a minimum language proficiency of Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 4;
- have, or are eligible for, legal immigration status in Canada, and;
- have been lawfully admitted in the country where they currently live.
The original, two-year pilot was extended in late March this year for another three years, until March 31, 2024, to help communities welcome new entrepreneurs to their regions, and be well-positioned to support economic recovery post-pandemic.
Small Communities Targeted For BC Entrepreneur Program
“Many will receive new entrepreneurs in their communities once international travel restrictions are lifted,” noted a statement from the BC PNP earlier this year when air travel restrictions were still in effect.
Many of those travel restrictions have now been lifted for fully-vaccinated passengers and Transport Canada is planning to re-open eight more airports to international travellers by the end of this month. That will put at 18 the number of Canadian airports open to international travellers.
Communities need to meet the following eligibility requirements to qualify for the program:
- a population of fewer than 75,000 people;
- located beyond 30 km of a municipality of more than 75,000 people, and;
- a demonstrated capacity to support the entrepreneur through a network of established settlement and business support agencies.
“With international travel restrictions beginning to ease in some regions of the world, new entrepreneurs will bring their business expertise and can help communities with their economic recovery and grow their local economy,” noted a statement from the BC PNP.