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All about Canada’s business immigration programs

Posted on November 5, 2019
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Canada is encouraging foreign businesses and entrepreneurs to establish their businesses in the country.  There are various schemes to motivate business owners to make use of the strong and stable business environment. The government has introduced several policies and programs to encourage business immigration and woo entrepreneurs. We will look at them in this post.

PR options for businesses and startups

Express Entry Program

We know that Canada has various immigration programs offering permanent residency. The same applies to businesses and startups. Under the Express Entry program, businesspersons can come to Canada on a work permit and then convert to PR visa as a skilled worker. They can get one year of work experience to gain more points.

Startup visa program

The country has a Start-up visa program that can be the ticket to a PR status and a work permit when the PR application is pending. This program encourages immigrant entrepreneurs to develop their startups in Canada. Successful applicants can tie up with private companies in Canada and receive help on funding and guidance on running their business.

However, this visa program has clear rules on the ownership and shareholding requirements for a startup to be eligible for this visa. Eligibility requirements are:

  • Must meet the minimum language eligibility requirements in English or French
  • Must have enough funds to settle in Canada
  • Must clear the medical tests and security requirements
  • Have proof that the business has the required support
  • Must fulfil the ownership requirements

Under this visa program, only five foreign nationals belonging to the same business can apply for a PR visa.

The entrepreneur wanting to immigrate must have the support or sponsorship of a specified Canadian venture capital fund, angel investor or business incubator to qualify for the PR visa.

The IRCC has designated specific venture capital funds, investor groups and business incubators to be part of this visa program.

Startups that succeed in getting through this program must be able to get the minimum required investment. If it is from a venture capital fund, minimum investment should be USD 200,000. If the investment is from an angel investor group, the investment should be at least USD 75,000. Applicants must also be a member of a Canadian business incubator program.

Applicants need not invest their own money in the business. Individuals who are granted PR visas through this program will retain their PR visa even if their startup is unsuccessful.

Provincial nominee programs

If an entrepreneur wants to get a PR visa under the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP), he must meet the eligibility conditions under this immigration program.

To qualify for the PR visa, he must indicate his intention to stay in the province and be willing to start a business there. He must have a detailed business plan to support his objective. Each province under the PNP immigration program has its own set of eligibility requirements for its entrepreneur program.  The common requirements include:

  • Applicant must have prior experience in running a business
  • Applicant must have the minimum net worth which has to be verified by an independent firm appointed by the province
  • Applicant must be willing to invest a considerable amount in a qualifying business located in the province or must own the mandatory percentage of a business in the province
  • The business will qualify only if it meets the PNP eligibility requirements
  • The entrepreneur should stay in the province and manage the daily operations of the business
  • The business should have the potential to create employment for Canadians or Canada PR visa holders
  • The application can be approved provided it meets the PNP requirements

Quebec investor program

The Quebec province in Canada has a separate immigration system which has investor and entrepreneur categories. It has a separate set of eligibility requirements.

The Quebec investor program indicates that an applicant must have a net worth of USD 2,000,000 to qualify for the PR visa. He should have at least two years of experience in running a business in the five-year period from the application date. Apart from this, he must make an investment of USD 1,200,000 in the Quebec government for a period of five years. Under this category, the applicant need not own or manage a business in the province. In fact, this PR program requires only a passive investment from the applicant.

The Quebec Entrepreneur Program is very similar to other provincial entrepreneur programs. Eligibility conditions include meeting the net worth criteria and running a business in Quebec that includes managing its day-to-day operations.

Federal Skilled Workers Program

Businesspersons can apply for a PR visa under the Federal Skilled Workers program. Some of them can apply for an owner/ operator Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) for a work permit, provided the entrepreneur has a 50% or more share in the Canadian business.

Canada offers several visa programs to encourage entrepreneurs. There are attractive schemes for startups that encourage individuals to set up their business here and get their PR status.

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