Canada offers the most established and widely-used investment based immigration programs conferring permanent resident status.
The Canadian confederation system of government and the country’s social norms offer a “European alternative” to the more unabashed capitalism of the USA. Canada offers European-style social benefits with fairly high levels of taxation and unparalleled quality of life. Under the Canadian model, business immigrants can enjoy the benefits of a national health care program, affordable first-class education and a national pension system that provides measurable annual income upon retirement.
Business immigration offering permanent admission to Canada comprise of the Quebec Immigrant Investor Program (QIIP), Quebec Entrepreneur program, Quebec Self-Employed, several Provincial Nominee Entrepreneur programs, the Federal Immigrant Investor Venture Capital (IIVC) Pilot Program and the Federal Start-Up Visa program. While the various entrepreneur and self-employed programs are aimed at individuals with a mid-range personal net worth who intend to establish and operate a business in Canada, the investor programs are suited for high net worth individuals who wish to make a passive investment with no obligation to establish a business.
Wealthy business immigrants may also buy or establish a new business in Canada and qualify for a temporary work visa, under federal ‘owner-operator’ policies. After a period of time, applicants may qualify for permanent residence under a suitable immigration program.
Below is a summary of what Canada offers at the federal and provincial levels.
Immigrant Investor Venture Capital Pilot Program (IIVCP)
Eligibility requirements for the IIVCP:
- Personal net worth of $10 million.
- Applicants must invest at least $2 million into a government-approved VC fund for a minimum period of 15 years, with no guarantee of return.
- Applicants must demonstrate their net worth threshold was obtained from lawful, for profit-making management, businesses or investment activities.
- Mandatory language testing
- Proof of completed Canadian post-secondary education of at least one year, or proof of a foreign educational equivalent (applicants with a personal net worth of $50 million are exempt).
Start-Up Visa Program
- Commitment certificate or letter of support from a designated entity
- Sufficient unencumbered, available and transferable settlement funds
- At least one year of post-secondary education
- Mandatory language testing.
The Start-Up Visa Program was established in 2013 and grants permanent residence and work permits to qualified immigrant entrepreneurs. The program aims to recruit entrepreneurs and link them with private sector businesses in Canada. The goal is to help establish businesses that have the potential to scale internationally.
Quebec Immigrant Investor Program
The Quebec Immigrant Investor Program is passive in nature, meaning that individuals selected under its auspices are not required to establish or actively manage a business in the province.
Rather, the program requires an investment of $800,000 into a prescribed (government guaranteed) investment. Applicants must have the intention of settling in the French speaking province of Quebec.
Successful applicants are issued a selection certificate from Quebec for Canada immigration, which allows them to obtain Canadian permanent residence following health and criminality examinations by federal immigration authorities.
The primary requirements are:
- Legally-acquired personal net worth of $1.6 million.
- Two years of suitable management or business experience within the five years preceding the application.
- Investment of $800,000 into a passive government guaranteed investment for a period of five years bearing no interest;
- Settle in the province of Quebec.
Quebec Immigrant Entrepreneur Program
The Quebec Immigrant Entrepreneur Program aims to recruit individuals who have the skills and experience to operate a business in the province. The primary conditions to apply are:
- Demonstrate a legally acquired personal net worth of at least $300,000.
- Demonstrate significant ownership and day to day senior management of a successful business for two years in the previous five years.
- Commit to investing a minimum of $100,000 in establishing, purchasing or expanding a business or entering into a successful partnership and retaining at least 25 per cent ownership interest.
- Commit to creating at least one full time job for a Canadian citizen or permanent resident.
Applicants are also evaluated according to various selection factors and must obtain a minimum number of points based on their education, work experience, age, language proficiency, business plan, and ties to Quebec.
Every year, the government accepts a limited number of applications in the entrepreneur category.
Quebec Self-Employed Program
To qualify under the Quebec Self-Employed Program, applicants must meet the following conditions that differentiates them from the Quebec Skilled Worker Program.
- Have two years of applicable experience.
- Possess a personal net worth of $100,000.
- Have sufficient settlement funds to support themselves and their family.
- Work in a profession defined in the National Occupational Classification. Prospective applicants must also meet licensing requirements for their profession.
Like skilled workers, a self-employed applicant is assessed on nine factors and must obtain sufficient points in order to qualify.
British Columbia’s Provincial Nominee Program has three streams aimed at entrepreneurs with distinct requirements. Net worth requirements range from $400,000 to $800,000 and investment requirements from $200,000 to $500,000.
Unlike other entrepreneur immigration programs, British Columbia first supports applicants in the issuance of a Work Permit.
The province will only nominate an applicant for permanent residence once they have successfully established and operated the intended business while in Canada as a work permit holder.
The Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program’s Entrepreneur stream is a three-stage process:
- Expression of interest
- Invitation to submit application
The expression of interest must meet the following minimum entry requirements:
- Minimum net worth of $500,000 legally acquired.
- Minimum of three years of entrepreneurial or relevant management experience.
- Investment of at least $300,000 in Regina or Saskatoon, or $200,000 is any other Saskatchewan area.
Candidates enter a pool where they receive a score. The top scoring candidates are invited to submit an application.
Applications must include:
- Business Establishment Plan confirming figures in expression of interest, and including at least one third ownership of a company in Saskatchewan, unless investment is $1 million or higher.
- Commitment to be active in day-to-day management of business.
- Creation of two or more jobs for Canadian citizens or permanent residents if the business is located in Regina or Saskatoon.
Business Investor Stream
The Manitoba Business Investor Stream is aimed at qualified international business investors and entrepreneurs. Candidates are initially issued with a temporary work permit, and must have the intent and ability to start or purchase a business in Manitoba within two years of arrival. There are pathways for entrepreneurs and for farm investors.
a) Entrepreneur Pathway
For applicants wanting to open a business in Manitoba. Candidates are initially issued with a temporary work permit. They are nominated for permanent residence after establishing a business meeting the conditions of a Business Performance Agreement. Priority is given to candidates starting businesses outside Winnipeg.
b) Farm Investor Pathway
For applicants wanting to open and operate a farm in rural Manitoba. Candidates are initially issued with a temporary work permit. They are nominated for permanent residence after establishing a business meeting the conditions of a Business Performance Agreement.
The Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program includes options for foreign businesses making large-scale investments into the province and who wish to obtain permanent residence for up to 25 key skilled employees.
The minimum investment required is of $3 million and must be approved by an Ontario ministry. It must also lead to the creation of at least five full time jobs for Ontario residents.
The New Brunswick Provincial Nominee Program Entrepreneurial Stream is aimed at professionals ready to invest in a business in the province and move there with their families.
The primary requirements are:
- Legally-acquired personal net worth of at least $600,000, of which $300,000 must be available in available in unencumbered liquidity.
- Invest at least $250,000 in a New Brunswick business, taking ownership of at least 33 per cent.
- Show business experience – either three years of ownership or five years of senior management experience in the last five years.
- Be aged between 22 and 55.
- Minimum two years post-secondary education degree or diploma.
- Score at least level 5 on the Canadian Language Benchmark exam for speaking, listening, reading and writing in English or French.
The Prince Edward Island Provincial Nominee Program for Business requires that applicants demonstrate a legitimately acquired personal net worth of at least $600,000, have relevant business experience, and make an active investment into a local business of at least $150,000.
Age, language and educational requirements are also applicable. Successful candidates will be required to make a deposit with the province of $200,000 upon nomination which will be returned in installments as various conditions are met.
The Northeest Territories’ Entrepreneur Program requires applicants to demonstrate a minimum personal net worth of $250,000, have relevant managerial experience, and make an active investment of at least $150,000 into a local business.
As in other entrepreneur programs, a refundable good faith deposit of $75,000 is required from successful applicants.
The Nova Scotia Entrepreneur stream targets candidates with business ownership or senior management experience. They must live in Nova Scotia, either start a new business or buy an existing business, and actively participate in the day-to-day management of that business.
Under the Entrepreneur stream, candidates are first issued a temporary work permit before applying for permanent residence after operating the business for a year. The stream uses an Expression of Interest format, where candidates in a pool are invited to apply.
Entrepreneur Stream: Candidate Requirements
- Be aged 21 or older.
- Want to live permanently in Nova Scotia while owning and actively managing a Nova Scotia business.
- Minimum net worth of $600,000.
- Minimum investment of $150,000 to establish or purchase a business in Nova Scotia.
- Minimum 3 years of experience actively managing and owning a business (33 per cent ownership minimum) OR more than 5 years of experience in a senior business management role.
- Score minimum of 5 on the Canadian Language Benchmark in speaking, listening, reading and writing in English or French.
Yukon’s Business Nominee program first nominates successful applicants for a two-year work permit. During the validity period of the work permit, applicants are required to establish their intended business in the Yukon.
Only then are they nominated for permanent residence. Successfully applicants must demonstrate a legally acquired personal net worth of $250,000, have relevant business management experience, and make an active investment of at least $150,000 into a local business. Applicants are also evaluated based on factors such as age, language abilities, education, and prior visits to the Yukon.
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