Immigration options for businesspeople have become very restricted in the past few years. The Canadian government’s Investor Immigrant Program and Entrepreneur Immigrant Programs were cancelled in February 2014. The short lived Immigrant Investor Venture Capital Class set high standards, and was not attractive to most business immigrants. And the Startup Visa Program requires an immigrant to find a Canadian investor group willing to invest into their project. And the BC Provincial Nominee Program has stopped accepting applications from April 1, 2015 to June 30, 2015. All of these have made immigration to Canada as a business immigrant very difficult.

We have worked to assist clients in planning their immigration to Canada in a multi-step process, usually involving investing into a business, obtaining work permits to manage that business, then applying to immigrate to Canada. We can review your background and objectives to help you choose the business immigration option that works best for you, your family, your business, and your timelines. We have helped businesspeople immigrate to Canada since 1990; we can guide you each step of the way.

Investment and Work Permits

Foreign businesspeople can establish a company in Canada, and make investments into Canadian businesses. Assuming the business qualifies, and the foreign national has the relevant expertise to manage the business, we can assist in obtaining a work permit for the main applicant, often in less than 3 months. We can also obtain a work permit for the spouse or common law partner, and study permits for any children under 18. This is usually the quickest and most efficient way to establish your business in Canada.

We have assisted clients obtain work permits for their companies in many different industry sectors, including Real Estate, Manufacturing, Mining, Retail, Construction, Food Processing, Tourism, and many other sectors.

Once in Canada, the businessperson may have a number of options to apply for permanent residence. Each case is different, and we can review your situation and options with you.

Start-Up Visa Program (former Entrepreneur Program)

The Start-Up Visa Program replaces Canada’s old Entrepreneur Program. Foreign entrepreneurs with innovative business ideas for Canada’s economy must meet certain application criteria including:

  1.  Letter of Support for the qualifying business idea from a CIC-designated:
  • Venture Capital Fund (with minimum $200,000 investment in qualifying business);
  • Angel Investor Group (with minimum $75,000 investment in qualifying business); or
  • Business Incubator;
  1.  Minimum official language proficiency: CLB 5 in listening, speaking, reading and writing for English or French;
  1. Minimum settlement funds: amount varies depending on family size.

Each qualifying business can support the application of up to five foreign entrepreneurs so long as each applicant has a minimum of 10% of the voting shares. Successful applicants and their accompanying dependents then obtain permanent resident visas.

Many entrepreneurs find it very difficult to obtain legitimate support for their investment ideas from a Venture Capital Fund, Angel Investor Group, or a Business Incubator. Self investment is not an option for this program, even if the entrepreneurs are willing to invest their own monies.

BC Business PNP: Update as of April 2015

The BC Business PNP allows businesspeople to immigrate to BC by investing into and managing a business in BC. The three available programs are: Entrepreneur, Regional Entrepreneur and Strategic Projects. From April 1, 2015 to June 30, 2015, the BC PNP has implemented a pause on accepting new applications, in order to try to clean up some of the backlog, as well as prepare for a new and improved intake system similar to the Express Entry system.

Immigrant Investor Venture Capital Class

The Immigrant Investor Venture Capital Class (“IIVC”) sought to attract to Canada the best and the brightest of the world’s business or investment leaders. Criteria for these applicants included:

  • Minimum personal net worth: $10 million; must be lawfully obtained and verifiable by a CIC-approved major accounting firm;
  • At-risk Investment: $2 million for 15 years to the Immigrant Investor Venture Capital Fund;
  • Minimum official language proficiency: Canadian Language Benchmark (“CLB”) 5 in listening, speaking, reading and writing for English or French;
  • Education: completed minimum one year of a Canadian post-secondary degree/diploma/certificate or a foreign equivalent properly assessed by CIC-approved reporter; exceptions apply for those with minimum personal net worth of $50 million.

The program was open for a short period, from January 28, 2015 to April 15, 2015. At present, there is no indication of a further extension to this program.