Is Canada immigration all about just skilled worker immigration? Certainly not!
Can I immigrate to Canada if I own a business or have a startup idea? Definitely!
Is business immigration the same as startup immigration in Canada? No.
What’s the difference between business and startup immigration in Canada? There are many similarities but some key differences between business and startup immigration programs in Canada. Read ahead to understand your options so that you can make the right choice.
Federal vs Provincial
There is no federal program for businesspersons. The Federal Self-Employed program focuses more on athletes, artists, and cultural performers as compared to traditional businesspersons.
But you can setup a Canadian branch of your business and use the LMIA-exempt Intra-Company Transfer work permit to enter Canada and qualify for permanent residence through Express Entry as a skilled worker of your own business.
Or you can rely on the PNP route because virtually every PNP has at least one stream for businesspersons or entrepreneurs. Of course, you will have to show intent to settle in the specific province to qualify for PR.
Business immigration programs require applicants to intend to create and maintain a profitable business in Canada. You will have to enter into a Business Performance Agreement with the province and your PR application will be rejected if your business is a failure.
Startup immigration, on the other hand, is not dependent on the success of your business. Instead, the focus of the Federal Startup visa program is on creating innovative, disruptive, and scalable businesses that can compete on the global scale and create jobs in Canada.
You won’t lose your PR status even if your startup idea fails, which is not the case with conventional business immigration programs.
Intent to Settle
If you opt to immigrate through a business immigration stream of a PNP, then you will have to settle in the specific province since intent to settle is a mandatory requirement of all PNP streams.
The federal SUV program give you the freedom to settle anywhere in the country. However, if you choose a PNP stream for startups, then you will have to necessarily settle in that specific province.
If you choose the Alberta Foreign Graduate Start-Up Visa Stream, then you will have to settle here.
- Skilled Workers, Startup Founders, Entrepreneurs, Foreign Students—Options Galore for Canada Immigration
- Startup Visas for Entrepreneurs—What Makes Canada’s Startup Visa the Best Choice in the World?
Most conventional business immigration programs specify the minimum investments that the applicant must make in the business to qualify for permanent residence.
The SUV program does not specific any minimum investments. However, the applicant must own at least 10 percent voting rights and, together with the designated agencies, own at least 50 percent voting rights in the startup.
If the startup’s total capital is CAN$ 1 million, then this means a minimum investment of at least $100,000 for the applicant to retain the required 10 percent voting rights. But the SUV does not have any fixed minimum investment requirement.
Startup founders are assessed based on of their business idea, which means business experience is not a mandatory requirement to immigrate to Canada under the SUV program.
The Designated Organization may consider experience and other factors but there are no mandatory conditions related to this point. Most PNP streams for business immigration require the applicant to have specific years of experience as business owner and/or business manager.
Startup Immigration Options beyond the SUV
For a long time, the federal SUV program was the only option for startup founders seeking to immigrate to Canada.
Now, Alberta has announced a new Foreign Graduate Start-Up Visa PNP Stream. To be eligible, an applicant must fulfill these conditions.
- Hold a graduate degree from outside Canada. This program is not open to international students graduating in Canada.
- At least six months of full-time work experience owning and/or actively managing a business or equivalent work experience with business incubators or business accelerators.
- CLB 5/NCLC 5 language proficiency.
- At least 34 percent stake if the business is located in an urban centre in Alberta. If located in regional area outside Census Metropolitan Areas of Calgary or Edmonton, then at least 51 percent ownership.
- Minimum investment of $100,000 for urban centre and $50,000 in other regional area. The investment must come from either equity of applicant and/or spouse OR from a recognized Canadian financial institution, VC firm, or angel investment firm.
- Get letter of recommendation from AINP-approved designated agency.