Canada Business and Investment Immigration Overview

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Canada offers the most established and widely-used investment based immigration programs conferring permanent resident status.

Canada Business and Investment Immigration Overview

The Canadian confederation system of government and the country’s social norms offer a “European alternative” to the more unabashed capitalism of the USA. Canada offers European-style social benefits with fairly high levels of taxation and unparalleled quality of life. Under the Canadian model, business immigrants can enjoy the benefits of a national health care program, affordable first-class education and a national pension system that provides measurable annual income upon retirement.

Business immigration offering permanent admission to Canada comprise of the Quebec Immigrant Investor Program (QIIP), Quebec Entrepreneur program, Quebec Self-Employed, several Provincial Nominee Entrepreneur programs, the Federal Immigrant Investor Venture Capital (IIVC) Pilot Program and the Federal Start-Up Visa program. While the various entrepreneur and self-employed programs are aimed at individuals with a mid-range personal net worth who intend to establish and operate a business in Canada, the investor programs are suited for high net worth individuals who wish to make a passive investment with no obligation to establish a business.

As well, wealthy business immigrants may buy or establish a new businesses in Canada and qualify for a temporary work visa, under federal ‘owner-operator’ policies.  After a period of time, applicants may qualify for permanent residence under a suitable immigration program.

How to Buy a Business and Move to Canada

More information about each program is available at the links below:

At the federal level, there are several business-related programs:

Buy a Business and Move to Canada

Although not a formal business program, Buy a Business and Move to Canada allows wealthy immigrants to move to Canada via Ottawa’s temporary work permit under the owner-operator policies.

Candidates can buy an established business and qualify for a work permit via the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.

Immigrant Investor Venture Capital Pilot Program

The Immigrant Investor Venture Capital Pilot Program was introduced to replace the Canada Immigrant Investor Program, but has failed to take hold.

Requirements include a personal bet worth of $10 million and a $2 million investment to be held for 15 years.

Start-Up Visa Program

The Start-Up Visa Program was established in 2013 and grants permanent residence and work permits to qualified immigrant entrepreneurs. 

The program aims to recruit entrepreneurs and link them with private sector businesses in Canada

After less than one year in Canada, candidates and their families can transition to permanent residence.

Quebec Immigrant Investor Program

The Quebec Immigrant Investor Program is passive in nature, meaning that individuals selected under its auspices are not required to establish or actively manage a business in the province.

Rather, the program requires an investment of $1,200,000 into a prescribed (government guaranteed) investment. Applicants must have the intention of settling in the French speaking province of Quebec.

Successful applicants are issued a selection certificate from Quebec for Canada immigration, which allows them to obtain Canadian permanent residence following health and criminality examinations by federal immigration authorities.

The primary requirements are:

  • Legally-acquired personal net worth of $2 million.
  • Two years of suitable management or business experience within the five years preceding the application.
  • Investment of $1,200,000 into a passive government guaranteed investment for a period of five years bearing no interest;
  • Settle in the province of Quebec.

Quebec Immigrant Entrepreneur Program

The Quebec Immigrant Entrepreneur Program aims to recruit individuals who have the skills and experience to operate a business in the province. The conditions to apply are different depending on the chosen stream.

Stream 1

This stream consists in managing a business in Quebec that the candidate created alone or with other partners (of which only 3 can be foreign nationals), with support from a business accelerator, a business incubator or a university entrepreneurship center. 

Stream 2

To apply under this stream, the entrepreneur must control at least 25% of the shares of a new enterprise, or at least 51% of an acquired enterprise, which must have a value equivalent or higher than the funds needed to start the business project. 

Conditions include:

  • Investment of starting funds of $200,000 for a business outside the metropolitan area of Montreal, or $300,000 for a business located in the metropolitan area of Montreal.
  • A minimum guarantee deposit between of $200,000.
  • A net value of $900,000 CAD legally acquired, alone with their spouse if applicable.

Under both streams, successful candidates must obtain the threshold score in the selection grid, which features criteria such as: age, education, language abilities, stays or family in Quebec, financial autonomy. 

All candidates must submit their business project under the form of a business plan. 

Every year, the government accepts a limited number of applications in the entrepreneur category.

Quebec Self-Employed Program

To qualify under the Quebec self-employed program, applicants must meet the following conditions that differentiates them from the Quebec Skilled Worker Program.

  • Have two years of applicable experience in the profession they intent to exercise in Quebec.
  • Possess a personal net worth of $100,000.
  • Have sufficient settlement funds to support themselves and their family.
  • Provide a start-up deposit of at least $50,000 if the self-employed candidate is based in the metropolitan area of Montreal, and $25,000 if the candidate is located outside of Montreal.

Like skilled workers, a self-employed applicant is assessed on several selection factors and must obtain sufficient points in order to qualify to apply.

The British Columbia Entrepreneur stream is for candidates who wish to immigrate to the province and actively manage a business.

B.C. Entrepreneur Stream: Requirements

  • Establish an eligible new business or purchase and improve an existing business in B.C.
  • Investment of minimum $200,000 in the new or existing business. 
  • Create at least one new full-time job for a Canadian citizen or permanent resident
  • Net worth of minimum $600,000.
  • Business and/or management experience.
  • Have, or be eligible for, legal immigration status in Canada.
  • Have been lawfully admitted in the country where you currently reside.
  • Pay a $300 registration fee, $3,500 application fee and $1,000 fee for each key staff application.

B.C. Entrepreneur Stream: Process

1) Registration

Complete an online registration including a short business concept and pay non-refundable fee of $300. Candidates are scored on the information they provide and are place in a pool for six months or 180 days, or until they receive an invitation.

2) Invitation

British Columbia carries out regular draws, on average one each month for the Entrepreneur stream. Candidates who are invited to apply have four months to submit a complete application. The score takes into account English language ability, age and Canadian work experience. Candidates can improve their score while in the pool, including by submitting a new business concept.

3) Net Worth Review

Candidates receiving an invitation to apply will have their net worth reviewed by a qualified supplier, who is a professional chartered accountant. The review includes the amount and source of funds and supporting documents. The candidate is responsible for all costs.

4) Application

Candidates have four months, or 120 days, to submit an application once an invitation is received. Candidates may be required to attend an interview. Approved applicants must sign a performance agreement with B.C. They then have 20 months, or 610 days to implement their business proposal.

5) Building the Business

Candidates get a letter of support from B.C. to apply to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada for a two-year work permit. Candidates and their dependents must arrive in B.C. with a valid work permit within 12 months, or 365 days, of receiving a letter of confirmation. The 20 months to implement the business starts when the candidate lands. At the end of the period, candidates must submit a final report to the British Columbia Provincial Nominee Program.

6) Nomination for Permanent Residence

Candidates who meet the terms of their performance agreement are nominated for Canadian permanent residence by B.C. 

Dependents and key staff members (if applicable) will also receive nominations.

The Saskatchewan Entrepreneur stream is a three-stage process:

  • Expression of interest;
  • Invitation to submit application;
  • Nomination;

Successful candidates initially come to Canada on a temporary work permit.

They become eligible to apply for nomination after a minimum of 6 months spent establishing their business.

The expression of interest must meet the following minimum entry requirements:

  • Minimum net worth of $500,000 legally acquired.
  • Minimum of three years of entrepreneurial or relevant management experience.
  • Investment of at least $300,000 in Regina or Saskatoon, or $200,000 is any other Saskatchewan area.

Candidates enter a pool where they receive a score. The top scoring candidates are invited to submit an application.

Applications must include:

  • Business Establishment Plan confirming figures in expression of interest, and including at least one third ownership of a company in Saskatchewan, unless investment is $1 million or higher.
  • Commitment to be active in day-to-day management of business.
  • Creation of two or more jobs for Canadian citizens or permanent residents if the business is located in Regina or Saskatoon.

Read more on the Saskatchewan Entrepreneur Stream.

Business Investor Stream

The Manitoba Business Investor Stream is aimed at qualified international business investors and entrepreneurs. Candidates are initially issued with a temporary work permit, and must have the intent and ability to start or purchase a business in Manitoba within two years of arrival. There are pathways for entrepreneurs and for farm investors.

a) Entrepreneur Pathway

For applicants wanting to open a business in Manitoba. Candidates are initially issued with a temporary work permit. They are nominated for permanent residence after establishing a business meeting the conditions of a Business Performance Agreement. Priority is given to candidates starting businesses outside Winnipeg.

b) Farm Investor Pathway

For applicants wanting to open and operate a farm in rural Manitoba. Candidates are initially issued with a temporary work permit. They are nominated for permanent residence after establishing a business meeting the conditions of a Business Performance Agreement.

Ontario Corporate Stream

The Ontario Corporate Stream is aimed at established international corporations that want to expand into Ontario or buy an existing Ontario business. If an international corporation establishes itself in Ontario and abides by the rules of the program, five key members of the corporation that are essential to the establishment, operation and success of the business may be nominated by the Ontario government for permanent residence. Once nominated, an applicant qualifies to apply for Canadian permanent residence.

Ontario Entrepreneur Stream

The Ontario Entrepreneur Stream is aimed at individuals from outside Canada who want to start a business or buy an already existing business in Ontario. Those who are approved for the program will be nominated for Canadian Permanent Residence. Once nominated, an applicant qualifies to apply for Canadian permanent residence.

Read more on the Ontario Corporate Stream and Ontario Entrepreneur Stream.

The New Brunswick Provincial Nominee Program Entrepreneurial Stream is aimed at professionals ready to invest in a business in the province and move there with their families.

The primary requirements are:

  • Legally-acquired personal net worth of at least $600,000, of which $300,000 must be available in available in unencumbered liquidity.
  • Invest at least $250,000 in a New Brunswick business, taking ownership of at least 33 per cent.
  • Show business experience – either three years of ownership or five years of senior management experience in the last five years.
  • Be aged between 22 and 55.
  • Minimum two years post-secondary education degree or diploma.
  • Score at least level 5 on the Canadian Language Benchmark exam for speaking, listening, reading and writing in English or French.

Three-Stage Application Process

  1. Submit expression of interest (EOI).
  2. Apply for nomination certificate.
  3. Apply to federal government for permanent residence.

Work Permit Stream

Individuals applying under the P.E.I. Work Permit Stream must obtain a Canadian work permit and work for a P.E.I. business for a certain amount of time as designated in a Performance Agreement.

After the Performance Agreement is fulfilled, the applicant must make a minimum $150,000 investment in the business and commit to managing the business on a daily basis from within P.E.I.

Previously, Prince Edward Island operated direct permanent residence business streams, but these were closed in September 2018 over immigration fraud concerns.

Read more on the Prince Edward Island Business Impact Category.

The Northwest Territories’ Entrepreneur Program requires applicants to demonstrate a minimum personal net worth of $250,000, have relevant managerial experience, and make an active investment of at least $150,000 into a local business.

As in other entrepreneur programs, a refundable good faith deposit of $75,000 is required from successful applicants.

The Nova Scotia Entrepreneur stream targets candidates with business ownership or senior management experience. They must live in Nova Scotia, either start a new business or buy an existing business, and actively participate in the day-to-day management of that business.

Under the Entrepreneur stream, candidates are first issued a temporary work permit before applying for permanent residence after operating the business for a year. The stream uses an Expression of Interest format, where candidates in a pool are invited to apply.

Entrepreneur Stream: Candidate Requirements

  • Be aged 21 or older.
  • Want to live permanently in Nova Scotia while owning and actively managing a Nova Scotia business.
  • Minimum net worth of $600,000.
  • Minimum investment of $150,000 to establish or purchase a business in Nova Scotia.
  • Minimum 3 years of experience actively managing and owning a business (33 per cent ownership minimum) OR more than 5 years of experience in a senior business management role.
  • Score minimum of 5 on the Canadian Language Benchmark in speaking, listening, reading and writing in English or French.

International Graduate Entrepreneur Category

Basic requirements:

  • Open to immigrants wishing to start, join or manage a business in the province.
  • Be a graduate of Memorial University or the College of the North Atlantic.
  • Have complete a program at least two years in length.
  • Have benchmark level 7 in one of Canada’s official languages.
  • Have at least one year of experience in managing or owning a business in the province.
  • Candidates must establish themselves and their business on a temporary work permit, before being nominated for permanent residence after at least one year.
  • There is no up-front investment requirement.

International Entrepreneur Category

Basic requirements:

  • Open to immigrants aged 21 to 59.
  • Transfer $500,000 in net business and personal assets to the province.
  • Have two years of experience managing a business.
  • Candidates must establish themselves and their business on a temporary work permit, before being nominated for permanent residence after at least one year.

Read more about the Newfoundland business programs.

Yukon’s Business Nominee program first nominates successful applicants for a two-year work permit. During the validity period of the work permit, applicants are required to establish their intended business in the Yukon.

Only then are they nominated for permanent residence. Successfully applicants must demonstrate a legally acquired personal net worth of $250,000, have relevant business management experience, and make an active investment of at least $150,000 into a local business. Applicants are also evaluated based on factors such as age, language abilities, education, and prior visits to the Yukon.

Read More:

Interested readers are invited to complete our Free Assessment to determine whether they qualify for immigration to Canada as a Business Immigrant.

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