Business and Investor Immigration programs
Canada offers the most established and widely-used investment based immigration programs conferring permanent resident status.
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.
Provincial Entrepreneur Programs
Mid-range net worth individuals with suitable entrepreneurial experience may be eligible to apply under the one of many Provincial Entrepreneur programs. Currently, entrepreneur programs are administered by individual provinces and follow a two-step process to permanent residence. Applicants are first selected or nominated by a province if they meet program requirements. Based on that selection or nomination, they may then apply to Citizenship and Immigration Canada for permanent residence.
There are a number of provinces which manage their own business immigration programs which require active participation in the management of a business based on a specified investment and job creation. The programs vary in the requirements to qualify but generally refer to a minimum net worth in the area of $350,000 with relevant management experience. Some of the programs require a good will deposit which is refundable once the business has been established. Under provincial nominee programs, applicants first apply to be nominated by a province, and on the basis of that nomination may obtain permanent residence following Federal health and criminality checks.
British Columbia’s Provincial Nominee Program has three streams aimed at entrepreneurs with distinct requirements. Net worth requirements range from $400,000 to $800,000 CAD and investment requirements from $200,000 to $500,000 CAD. Unlike other entrepreneur immigration programs, British Columbia first supports applicants in the issuance of a Work Permit. The province will only nominate an applicant for permanent residence once they have successfully established and operated the intended business while in Canada as a work permit holder.
The Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program’s Entrepreneur stream is a three-stage process:
- Expression of Interest
- Invitation to submit application
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.
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. The stream abolishes a previous requirement for a $100,000 deposit with the Manitoba government. 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.
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.
The government of Ontario has authority to nominate certain applicants for Canadian permanent residence under the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP). Individuals with a nomination certificate issued by the province may apply for Canadian permanent residence.
Ontario Business Immigration program has two immigration programs directed to applicants with a successful business background. The programs are:
- The Ontario Corporate Stream (OCS)
- The Ontario Entrepreneur Stream (OES)
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.
Prince Edward Island
The Prince Edward Island Provincial Nominee Program for Business requires that applicants demonstrate a legitimately acquired personal net worth of at least $600,000 CAD, have relevant business experience, and make an active investment into a local business of at least $150,000 CAD. Age, language and educational requirements are also applicable. Successful candidates will be required to make a deposit with the province of $200,000 CAD upon nomination which will be returned in installments as various conditions are met.
North West Territories
The North West Territories’ Entrepreneur Program requires applicants to demonstrate a minimum personal net worth of $250,000 CAD, have relevant managerial experience, and make an active investment of at least $150,000 CAD into a local business. As in other entrepreneur programs, a refundable good faith deposit of $75,000 CAD is required from successful applicants.
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 CAD, 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.