Business Immigrants

Since 1990, Lowe & Company has helped foreign business people from many different countries immigrate to Canada. In the past, business people were able to immigrate by just making a passive investment into a fund. However, today, business immigrants must usually find a suitable Canadian business, invest into it, obtain a work permit to manage it properly, and then apply to immigrate into Canada.

Business people interested in immigrating to Canada can do so via (a) Entrepreneur PNP Programs; (b) the Federal Business Immigration Programs; or (c) the Canadian Business Experience Strategy. Each person’s situation is different, so we help our clients find the right business immigration option to fit their specific needs, goals, and situation.

Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs) arise out of agreements between the Government of Canada and Canadian provinces or territories. Most of these agreements have provisions for the province or territory to select Skilled Workers and Entrepreneur Immigrants which will benefit their economy. The British Columbia PNP Entrepreneur Programs and Ontario PNP Entrepreneur Programs are the programs we most often recommend out of all the Entrepreneur PNP Programs.

Federal Business Immigration Programs are the business immigration programs of the Government of Canada, and are applicable wherever you wish to settle in Canada. These include the Self-Employed Persons Program, for immigrants who could be self Employed in a Cultural or Athletic field, and the Start-up Visa Program, for business people with innovative ideas who can obtain the support of a Canadian Venture Capital firm, Angel Investor Group, or a Business Incubator.

The Canadian Business Experience Strategy is a business immigration solution we have developed for qualified clients with good education, English or French language abilities, and business experience. This process combines the flexibility of work permits with the speed of Express Entry, resulting in expedited turnaround time for business immigrants seeking permanent residence in Canada.

By reviewing your background and objectives, we can help you develop a business immigration strategy that will benefit you, your family, your business, and your timelines. We have answers to your questions, so let us guide you each step of the way.

Notice:
In July 2021, the BC PNP Entrepreneur Program announced that they are pausing intake for the Base Program until early 2022. When it reopens, they will likely come back with new criteria. However, the Regional BC PNP will be continuing as the only PNP Entrepreneur Program in BC (until early 2022).

The BC Entrepreneur Provincial Nominee Programs

We can help experienced business owners and managers immigrate to British Columbia under one of two BC PNP Entrepreneur Programs: the Base Program and the Regional Entrepreneur Pilot Program. Note that there are eligibility restrictions and these programs are available on an invitation-only basis.

The Base Program

The Base Program is targeted at foreign entrepreneurs looking to either purchase an existing business or establish a new business in British Columbia. Under the Base Program, business immigrants are allowed to (a) establish different kinds of businesses anywhere in BC, or (b) buy and expand existing businesses with five or more years of financial history. The Base Program is much more flexible than the Regional Pilot Program; however, as of July 2021, the BC PNP has temporarily paused accepting new applications for this program, and is expected to resume in the spring of 2022.

The BC PNP Regional Entrepreneur Pilot Program

The Regional Entrepreneur Pilot Program is targeted at foreign entrepreneurs looking to live and start new businesses in British Columbia in one of 66 smaller communities with under 75,000 people. Those applying under the Regional Entrepreneur Pilot Program must invest into one of the three specific ‘priority sectors’ outlined by the community and are not permitted to purchase an existing business. Additionally, foreign entrepreneurs must visit the community first to propose their business idea and gain the community’s support.

From Start to Work Permit:

From Work Permit to Permanent Residence:

Regional Pilot Program Requirements (Personal):

  • Minimum 3 years of Business Ownership Experience or 4 years as a Senior Manager in the past 5 years;
  • Minimum net worth of $300,000 CAD;
  • Basic English or French proficiency (CLB 4) at the time of registration;
  • Post-secondary education certificate, unless you have been sole owner of a business for 3/5 years

Regional Pilot Program Requirements (Investment):

  • Must visit the community and gain support for the proposed investment;
  • Must establish a new business in one of the community’s 3 priority sectors;
  • Minimum investment of $100,000 CAD;
  • The business must create a minimum of 1 new job;
  • Must own at least 51% equity in the business

Responsibilities After Acquiring Work Permit:

  • Must have an active management role in the business;
  • Must live in the community;
  • Must spend at least 75% of your time in BC while your case is being processed

Steps in the BC PNP Regional Entrepreneur Pilot Program

  1. First, you must research the community and business that you wish to do in that community. You may do this online, or with the help of your Immigration Lawyer or Consultant. You may wish to research several communities and options in case you cannot get support for your first choice. You may wish to review this article on Investing into a Business for Business Immigration.
  2. Next, you must contact the community representative, and arrange to visit that community and gain their support for your proposed business. You may need to arrange visas to come to BC to visit one or more of the communities that you wish to apply to.
  3. Next, you must submit an Expression of Interest (EOI), with your background and your proposed business concept, and show that you have the support of the community you intend to establish your business in. After submitting the EOI, you will be assessed a score, then placed in a pool of candidates who have also submitted EOIs.
  4. Periodically, the BC PNP will Invitations to Apply to the highest ranking candidates, so it is important to maximize your score at the outset; just meeting the minimum requirements is not likely to be successful.
  5. Once you are given an Invitation to Apply, you will need to prepare your full Regional Entrepreneur Application, including a comprehensive Business Plan, and your assets verified by approved Accounting firm. You will also need to attend a personal interview with the PNP Officer; assuming you are accepted, you may apply for a 2 year Work Permit.

Lowe & Company has assisted BC PNP Entrepreneur Immigrants for many years, and has taught courses on this to immigration lawyers and consultants across Canada. Request a consultation to find out if this program or other business immigration options would be right for you!

Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP) Entrepreneur Stream

The OINP Entrepreneur Program is intended to attract foreign businesspeople to immigrate to Ontario. Firstly, you must register an Expression of Interest with a proposed Business Concept. Your EOI will then be scored out of a maximum 200 points, then placed in a pool with other candidates. Periodically, the highest ranking candidates will be given an Invitation to Apply.

From Start to Work Permit:

From Work Permit to Permanent Residence:

Personal Qualifications

  1. Minimum 24 months experience in the last 60 months as a Business Owner Manager (>33% ownership) or a Senior Manager in a business;
  2. Minimum net worth of:
    1. CAD$800,000 if the proposed business is in Greater Toronto Area (GTA); or
    2. CAD $400,000 if the proposed business is outside the GTA or
    3. CAD $400,000 if the proposed business is in the Information and Communications Technology/Digital Communications Sector (the ICT Sector); and
  3. Basic English or French proficiency.

Investment minimum requirements

  1. You must make a minimum investment of:
    1. CAD$600,000 if the proposed business is in the GTA, or
    2. CAD $200,000 if the proposed business is outside the GTA; or
    3. CAD $200,000 if the proposed business is in the ICT sector (anywhere in Ontario);
  2. The business must create new jobs:
    1. 2 new Jobs if the business is in the GTA; or
    2. Minimum 1 new job if the business is outside the GTA, or in the ICT sector; and
  3. You must own at least 33% equity in the business.

After you have Work Permit Approval

  1. You must have an active management role in the business; and
  2. You must spend at least 75% of your time in ON while your case is being processed.

These are minimum requirements. Because your application will be scored and ranked against other applicants and their business proposals, applications with just the minimum requirements are not likely to succeed. Here are some of the ranges for different categories:

Category Minimum required Maximum points for these
Personal Net Worth$400,000 CDN$2.5 Million CDN
Investment$200,000$3 Million CDN
Jobs1 job7 jobs
Experience24 months Owner/Sr. Manager60 months Owner/Sr. Manager

In some cases, Applicants can buy existing businesses and expand them.

Lowe & Company has assisted Business Immigrants from all over the world for over 30 years. Request a consultation and find out how we can help you!

Federal Business Immigration Programs

The Canadian federal government currently has two options for business immigrants: the Self-Employed Persons Program and the Start-up Visa Program. Each has specific requirements which limit their usefulness for most business immigrants, but if you meet their conditions, they can be very helpful.

The Self-Employed Persons Program

Foreign business people with “relevant experience” in a cultural or athletic field may be able to immigrate to Canada under the Self-Employed Persons Program. This program is aimed at immigrants with (a) the

relevant experience, (b) the intention and ability to be self-employed in Canada, and (c) the intention and ability to make a significant contribution to Canada’s cultural or athletic life. Those accepted must be able

to support themselves independently through their craft.

Business immigrants considering the Self-Employed Persons Program must have at least two years of

recent experience being self-employed in either Canada or their own country, as well as the intention and ability to maintain self-employment in a cultural or athletic field in Canada.

We have helped self-employed authors, artists, musicians, yoga instructors, film producers, and more from the USA, UK, China, Singapore, and many other countries immigrate as self-employed immigrants.

Two Years of Self-Employment Experience

Self-employed business immigrants must show that they have the relevant experience necessary to maintain self-employment status in Canada. In the context of the Self-Employed Persons Program, this means they must have either (a) taken part in cultural activities or athletics at a world-class level or (b) been self-employed in cultural or athletic activities for at least two years. These actions must have taken place within five years prior to the submission of their immigration application.

Intention and Ability

To be eligible under the Self-Employed Persons Program, applicants must provide evidence that they can and will carry out the actions necessary to make a living as a self-employed person in a cultural or athletic field once they are in Canada. Applicants must show they have researched their prospects and self-employment opportunities for their field. Only then will they be able to fit themselves into the picture.

At Lowe & Company, we review our client’s background and experience, and discuss Canada’s business landscape and relevant self-employment prospects. We also actively help our clients research and put together customized business plans which demonstrate their intention and ability to (a) be self-employed in Canada and (b) make a significant contribution to the specified economic activities in Canada.

Start-up Visa Program

The Start-up Visa Program is targeted at innovative business immigrants with ideas that can help Canada’s economy. The issue is Canada Immigration officials may not be the best judges of what ideas are likely to succeed and which ones are non-starters; thus, they rely on validation of your ideas by either a Canadian venture capital fund, an Angel investor group, or a business incubator. If a member of one of these groups supports your idea, you and up to 4 partners may be able to acquire start-up visas and begin building your business in Canada.

To be eligible under this program, applicants will need a letter of support from a designated venture capital fund (that has agreed to invest at least $200,000 in the business), Angel investor group (that has agreed to invest at least $75,000 in the business), or business incubator. Applicants must also have a minimum language proficiency (CLB) score of 5 in English or French, as well as settlement funds depending on family size.

The Canadian Business Experience Strategy

The Canadian Business Experience Strategy is aimed at qualified foreign business people who wish to come to Canada with their families as soon as possible. This strategy works best for clients who are well-educated, have good English or French, and have business experience. The overall process includes researching and finding a business to invest in, obtaining work permits and study permits for you and your family, and then applying to immigrate under Express Entry. Working closely with each client, we are also able to determine how to best meet their business goals and needs on the path to permanent residence.

From Start to Work Permit:

From Work Permit to Permanent Residence:

Buying or Investing Into a Business

As with the other Business Immigration strategies, one of the first things that the business immigrant must do is to research and find a suitable business to invest in. This can be done online, but is usually most effective if done in-person. See our article on Investing into a Business for Business Immigration.

How Does It Work?

Once you have found a business to invest in, there are two stages in the Canadian Business Experience Strategy.

  1. The first stage would be to acquire a work permit to manage the business. While there are over 40 ways for foreigners to work in Canada, some of the work permits we use for business immigrants are Free Trade Investor Work Permits, Significant Benefit Work Permits, Intra-Company Transfers, and others depending on the business immigrants’ background.

    When we obtain a work permit for the primary applicant, we can obtain a work permit for their spouse or common-law partner, and study permits for their children in primary or secondary school. We are typically able to acquire work permits for our clients within three months.
  2. The second stage of the Canadian Business Experience Strategy is to apply for permanent residence under Express Entry. With a business work permit, one may be able to obtain between 50 and 200 bonus points under Express Entry, and possibly additional points for the applicant or spouse working in Canada. In total, through the Canadian Business Experience Strategy, we are able to get our clients permanent residence status within 1 to 3 years.

Lowe & Company has developed innovative strategies for our clients to qualify to immigrate for over 30 years. Request a consultation and find out how we can assist you!

CUSMA (formerly NAFTA) Investor Work Permit

The Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement came into effect on July 1, 2020, replacing the North American Free Trade Agreement, and is designed to facilitate trade and investment between the USA, Mexico, and Canada. For trade and investment to be conducted, citizens of each Member Country must be able to travel to, and do business in, other Member Countries; thus, CUSMA thus includes provisions to facilitate entry and Work Permits.

The CUSMA Investor Work Permit allows citizens of the USA or Mexico to come to Canada to develop and direct a business in which they have invested a “substantial” amount of capital. This is one of the most flexible and useful tools which we have to help Americans and Mexicans establish, purchase, or invest into a business in Canada.

Requirements to get a CUSMA Investor Work Permit: To qualify for a CUSMA Investor Work Permit:

  1. The Applicant must have American or Mexican citizenship;
  2. The Canadian company must be majority owned by American or Mexican citizens;
  3. “Substantial investment” has been made, or is actively being made;
  4. The Applicant is seeking entry solely to develop and direct the enterprise; and
  5. The Applicant complies with other Immigration requirements (e.g. is not criminally or medically inadmissible, and will likely leave Canada after the authorized stay is complete).

Frequently asked Questions:

What is the minimum investment required for a CUSMA Investor Work Permit?

Technically, there is no minimum investment required under the CUSMA Investor Work Permit category. Instead, Visa Officers will consider whether the business is a real and active commercial entrepreneurial undertaking, and will result in productive investment in Canada. Passive investments where no employment is created or maintained for people other than the CUSMA Investor are not likely to qualify. We have used the NAFTA/CUSMA Investor category for investments as little as $50,000 CDN and as much as $300 Million.

What kind of businesses can qualify for a CUSMA Investor Work Permit?

There are few restrictions. We have assisted clients acquiring or starting up many kinds of businesses, including Retail, Construction Management, Restaurants, Food Processing, Real Estate Development and others. Job creation or maintenance is often more critical than the amount invested.

How long is the CUSMA Investor Work Permit good for, and can it be renewed?

Generally, the first CUSMA Investor Work Permit would be issued for 1 year. This is renewable, usually for periods of 2 years at a time, assuming that the business is active and operating.

Do I need to have experience in the kind of business that I will be investing in?

You must prove that you have the intention and ability to manage the business; however, that does not necessarily mean prior experience. We have assisted clients who had no prior experience in the Canadian business they purchased, but were able to show that they were capable to manage it.

Should I start my own business or should I purchase a Business?

From the CUSMA Investor perspective, either is workable. However, by purchasing an existing business, one can often prove that the business is genuine more easily than a new start-up which hasn’t commenced operations.

Can my spouse or common law partner obtain a Work Permit as well?

Yes. Once your Work Permit has been approved, we can obtain a Spousal/Common Law Partner Work Permit which would allow him/her to work for any employer, multiple employers, or even start his/her own business.

Can my children study in Canada as well?

School age children may obtain Study Permits to study in Elementary and Secondary schools, often being exempt from paying foreign student fees.

Will this allow me to obtain Permanent Residence?

Not automatically; the CUSMA Investor Work Permit is only for Temporary Residence. However, this may assist you in gaining additional points to immigrate under Express Entry.

At Lowe & Company, we have helped American and Mexican clients invest into businesses in Canada, obtain Work Permits as NAFTA/CUSMA Investors, and then apply for Permanent Residence. Request a consultation to find out whether this route may be viable for you!

The information provided herein is of a general nature and is not intended to provide advice to any specific situation. Because Immigration laws are constantly changing, and subject to varying interpretations, we strongly recommend that you seek legal advice with respect to your particular situation.

CETA Investor Work Permits for EU Citizens

The European Union is one of the largest economies in the world, and is Canada’s second largest trading partner. The Canada-European (EU) Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement came into effect in September 2017, and is designed to facilitate trade and investment between Canada and the 27 European Union member countries. For trade and investment to be conducted, citizens of each Member Country must be able to travel to, and do business in, other Member Countries; thus, CETA thus includes provisions to facilitate entry and Work Permits.

EU Member Countries

On April 1, 2021, Canada entered into the Agreement on Trade Continuity with the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, which offers similar visas for UK and Northern Ireland citizens.

The CETA Investor Work Permit allows citizens of an EU member country to come to Canada to develop and direct a business in which they have invested a “substantial” amount of capital. This is one of the most flexible and useful tools which we have to help citizens of EU member countries to establish, purchase, or invest into a business in Canada.

Requirements to get a CETA Investor Work Permit

To qualify for a CETA Investor Work Permit:

  1. The Applicant must have citizenship in a EU country;
  2. The Applicant:
    1. Will establish, develop, or administer the operation of an investment in a capacity that is supervisory or executive;
    2. Is the investor; or
    3. Is employed by an enterprise that has committed or is in the process of committing a substantial amount of capital

Frequently asked Questions:

What is the minimum investment required for a CETA Investor Work Permit?

Technically, there is no minimum investment required under the CETA Investor Work Permit category. Instead, Visa Officers will consider whether the business is a real and active commercial entrepreneurial undertaking, and will result in productive investment in Canada. Passive investments where no employment is created or maintained for people other than the CETA Investor are not likely to qualify.

How long is the CETA Investor Work Permit good for, and can it be renewed?

Generally, the first CETA Investor Work Permit would be issued for 1 year. There are possible extensions, assuming that you can establish the need to have your stay extended.

Do I need to have experience in the kind of business that I will be investing in?

You must prove that you have the intention and ability to manage the business; however, that does not necessarily mean prior experience. We have assisted clients who had no prior experience in the Canadian business they purchased, but were able to show that they were capable to manage it.

Should I start my own business or should I purchase a Business?

From the CETA Investor perspective, either is workable. However, by purchasing an existing business, one can often prove that the business is genuine more easily than a new start-up which hasn’t commenced operations.

Can my spouse or common law partner obtain a Work Permit as well?

Yes. Once your Work Permit has been approved, we can usually obtain a Spousal/Common Law Partner Work Permit which would allow him/her to work for any employer, multiple employers, or even start his/her own business.

Can my children study in Canada as well?

School age children may obtain Study Permits to study in Elementary and Secondary schools, often being exempt from paying foreign student fees.

Will this allow me to obtain Permanent Residence?

Not automatically; the CETA Investor Work Permit is only for Temporary Residence. However, this may assist you in gaining additional points to immigrate under Express Entry.

At Lowe & Company, we have helped foreign businesspeople invest into businesses in Canada, obtain Work Permits, and then apply for Permanent Residence. Request a consultation to find out whether this route may be viable for you!

The information provided herein is of a general nature and is not intended to provide advice to any specific situation. Because Immigration laws are constantly changing, and subject to varying interpretations, we strongly recommend that you seek legal advice with respect to your particular situation.