How can a business owner immigrate to Canada? Express Entry is for employees but what about self-employed immigration to Canada? Are there special options for entrepreneurs? Business immigration is very important because entrepreneurs create jobs, which is the source of all economic growth and development.

Read ahead for an overview of all PNP programs and streams for business persons. The second post of this series will cover PNP streams setup specifically for international graduates and for specific occupations.

Federal Option—Startup Visa

The Startup visa is designed for entrepreneurs with an innovative business idea that can compete at the global level and which will create jobs in Canada.

The program does not have any specific minimum investment requirements. However, the applicant must get funding ranging from $75,000 to $200,000 from Designated Organizations and, further, must own at least 50 percent voting rights in the startup entity.

This means you must invest an amount equal to or higher than the funding obtained from the Designated Organizations.

Language proficiency must be CLB 5 or higher and you must meet the Low Income Cut Off requirements for the year to prove you can provide for yourself and your family in Canada.

Business Immigration—PNP Options

If you are serious about business immigration, then you must focus on PNP streams designed specifically for business persons and foreign entrepreneurs. Virtually every Canadian province has some form of a business immigration program as a part of its provincial nomination program.

Here is an overview of PNP streams available for conventional business persons and entrepreneurs.

Manitoba Entrepreneur Pathway

Anybody with ownership of at least one-third or higher stake in a business or senior management role in a business for three out of past five years can apply for Manitoba’s PNP stream for entrepreneurs.

Net worth of $500,000 or higher, minimum investment of $150,000 for businesses located outside the Manitoba Capital Region (MCR) and $250,000 for businesses in the MCR and CLB 5 or higher language proficiency are other requirements.

You will work on your business for two years on a work permit and this will converted into permanent residence if you fulfill the terms of the Business Performance Agreement.

Nova Scotia Entrepreneur Stream

This stream is open for those with net worth of $600,000, liquid funds free for investment of $150,000 or higher.

To qualify, you must have owned a third or more of a business for at least three years or must have had a senior management role for at least five years. Your language proficiency must be CLB 5 or higher.

You must setup a new business or buy an existing business and operate it for at least a year to become eligible for permanent residence.

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Saskatchewan Entrepreneur Category

You must have net worth of $500,000 or more and at least three years of experience as an entrepreneur or in business management in the past ten years.

You must invest at least $300,000 if your business is in Regina or Saskatoon or at least $200,000 in other communities in the province.

You must own at least one-third stake in the business and must participate in day to day management of the business. Further, your business must create at least two jobs for citizens or permanent residents who are not related to you.

British Columbia—3 Programs

BC has three different programs under its PNP Entrepreneur immigration category.

Entrepreneur Immigration—Base Category is for those with minimum net worth of $600,000 making an investment of $200,000 and own one-third or higher stake in an existing or new business in the province.

During the past ten years, you must have

  • Either three years experience as active business owner-manager with at least 10 percent or higher stake or
  • Four years experience as senior manager of a business in a NOC 0 or A position where you supervised at least three full-time employees.  

You must either have a post-secondary qualification. Those with lower qualifications are eligible only if with business owner-manager experience for three out of five years with 100% ownership of the business.

Other requirements include active participation in management of the business, creation of at least one job for a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, CLB 4 or higher language proficiency, and residence within 100 kms of the business.

Entrepreneur Immigration—Strategic Projects is for foreign companies seeking strategic investment opportunities in the province. The company must invest at least $500,000 in a new or existing business in the province.

Up to five key staff members of such a company will be eligible for nomination for permanent residence. The company must create three jobs per key staff member, which means a total of 15 jobs must be created in the province if nomination is sought for all five key staff members.

Entrepreneur Immigration—Regional Pilot is restricted only to foreign entrepreneur setting up a new business in BC. This pilot has been extended till 2024.

The requirements are same as Base Category with these changes

  • Investment must be in new business only and in participating communities only
  • Net worth of $300,000 and not $500,000.
  • Minimum investment of $100,000 and not $200,000
  • Business ownership of at least 51% or higher and not one-third or higher
  • Business experience must be within past five years and not within past ten years.

Newfoundland International Entrepreneur Stream

The Newfoundland PNP for International entrepreneurs allows you to qualify based on business management experience even if you did not have any ownership stake. You must have five years of senior management experience in the past ten years to qualify.

As business owner, you must have owned at least 25 percent stake and must have at least two years of active management experience within five years of the application.

Minimum net worth of $600,000 is required along with investment of at least $200,000 in a business where you own at least one-third stake or more. If your ownership stake is lower, then minimum investment requirement increases to $1 million.

You must be aged between 21 and 59 years, have CLB 5 or higher language proficiency, be at least a high school graduate, and your business must create at least one job in the province.   

Ontario Entrepreneur Stream

Under OINP’s Entrepreneur stream, you can qualify based on your business ownership and/or business management experience as a senior manager. In both cases, you must have at least two years experience in the past five years.

Net worth, minimum investment, and job creation requirements vary based on where you are setting up the business and also whether you are setting up an ICT/Digital Communications business.

 GTAOutside GTAICT/Digital Comm. Business
Net Worth$800,000$400,000$400,000
Minimum Investment$600,000$200,000$200,000
Job Creation2 full-time jobs1 full-time job1 full-time job

You must own at least one-third stake in the business, can partner with one foreign national and/or one or multiple Canada citizens and permanent residents, and must have language proficiency of CLB 4 or above.

Alberta Foreign Graduate Start-Up Visa Stream

This program that borrows features from international graduate streams as well as conventional business immigration programs.

You must have a post-secondary degree to qualify but even a foreign degree will suffice. Like any startup visa, you must have a detailed business plan showcasing the viability of the business idea and a ten-minute presentation that highlights how the idea will generate growth in one of the eight key sectors identified by the province.

Just six months of business experience, including participating in entrepreneur courses can help you qualify. But, there is a minimum investment requirement of $100,000 for businesses in Calgary and Edmonton CMAs or $50,000 for businesses in a regional area outside these two CMAs.

Further, you must own at least 34% of the business (the two CMAs) or 51% (other regional areas) and have language proficiency of CLB 7 or higher.  

New Brunswick Business Immigration Stream

New Brunswick requires business owners with active management experience to prove they supervised two employees to be eligible for the business immigration stream.

You must have owned at least 51% stake in your business and active managed it for three out of the past five years. Even a senior manager with the same business management and employee supervision experience will qualify.

You must own at least a third of the business in New Brunswick, have net worth of $500,000 or higher and invest $150,000 or higher. Your business must create at least one full-time job in the province.

Other conditions include CLB 5 language proficiency, at least a high school diploma and residence within 100 kms of the business location.  

PEI Business Impact Category Work Permit Stream

This is a two-step program where you fulfill the net worth requirements, qualify for a work permit in Prince Edward Island, and then deploy your investment within 12 months of landing in the province.

You can apply as business owner if you had 20% or higher stake in a business with active management experience for three of the past five years. Anybody with a lower stake or no business ownership have the option of applying on basis of three years of senior management experience over the past five years.

You must have net worth of $600,000 or higher and must invest at least $150,000 within 12 months of landing. PEI has easy language requirement of CLB 4 or higher. You must live in the province for at least 274 days or more during establishment of the business and business operating expenses must exceed $75,000 in a year.

Yukon Business Nominee Program

Yukon has slightly tougher requirements compared to other provinces. You must have net worth of $500,000 or more, liquid assets in cash, bonds etc. worth $300,000 or more, and must prove that you can invest $300,000 or more as capital investments into your business over a period of two years.

To qualify, you must have at least three years of active management experience either as business owner and as senior manager with a NOC 0 or A position. Further, you must have at least five years of work experience relevant to the business.

All investments must be made only after your Business Nominee application is accepted. You can buy a business or setup a new business and it must be related to one of the ten strategic sectors listed by Yukon.

Northwest Territories Business Nominee Program          

Not accepting applications as of June 2021, Northwest Territories has not specifically defined the timeframe for proving business management skills and acumen. Instead, you must prove that your past experience and education qualifies you to implement the business plan successfully.

A business in Yellowknife requires net worth and minimum investment of $500,000 and $300,000 respectively. For business outside Yellowknife, the requirement is halved to $250,000 and $150,000.

Applicants must have CLB 4 or higher language proficiency and are encouraged to deploy investments into existing or new businesses only after their Nominee Program application is accepted.  

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