Canada Permanent Residency Program
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Business Class Immigration

Business Class Immigration If you’re already an entrepreneur, you can bring your business to Canada. If you have a start-up idea, you can build your business in Canada. You can even buy or invest in an established business.

Entrepreneur PNP

If you have financial capital and business experience, there are several programs set up that would allow you to immigrate to Canada and invest in the economy. Each province and territory have their own PNP with entrepreneur streams to get you started on the pathway to residency. Some PNPs will grant you permanent residency status before you move, and others will sponsor permanent residency only after you’ve been successfully operating your new business in Canada for a specific amount of time. All PNPs require you to state your intent to settle permanently in whichever province sponsors your immigration into Canada. These programs vary slightly between each province, but generally all require that you become an active partner in a new or existing business located within that province. They require that you prove your net worth, an ability to contribute a certain amount of equity into a business, and to make a sizeable deposit to that province that will be held by the government for a specific amount of time or until your business plan has been fully executed. Most of the PNPs that are open to business investors have caps and only accept a certain number of applicants per year. Depending on which province you’re interested in living in, you may need to wait in order to even apply.

Since the PNPs aim to address specific economic needs, the requirements and selection criteria may change at any time. You’ll need to submit a viable business plan along with your application and would meet with a government representative to discuss your strategy. Priority is given to applicants that are most qualified and thought to have the greatest potential to establish themselves in that province and make the biggest contributions to the economy. Meeting the technical requirements does not guarantee your acceptance into the program. The purpose of these programs is to contribute to the economy and to create jobs, so your business plan would need to address the creation of new full-time jobs for Canadians, not just for yourself or family members.

You have the option to either establish a new business venture, or purchase an existing business. In addition to whichever requirements exist for each PNP, you and any accompanying family members would need to pass a medical exam and prove that you would not be an excessive burden on the health and social services offered by the government. You’d also have to prove proficiency in English and/or French and of course, be considered admissible to Canada.

Move your start-up to Canada

Running a startup? Canada is looking to hold its own against Silicon Valley, so they’re building an excellent network to nurture startups and attract top talent. If approved, you’d be able to move to Canada as a permanent resident through the Start-Up Business Class immigration stream. Unlike most other immigration programs, this one does not necessarily favor younger applicants. Up to five people can move to Canada under the startup visa. You’ll need to take a language test to prove your proficiency in English or French. You need to prove you have funds to support yourself and your family.

The requirements are quite reasonable and if you’re moving to a city, you’ll want to have access to more funds than that if you don’t have some sort of income coming in. You’ll need support from a designated VC fund, angel investor, or business incubator. Each person coming on a startup visa needs to have at least 10% of the votes and collectively, the startup applicants and designated organization need to have a majority stake.

Requirements

  • Guaranteed minimum investment from a designated organization
  • Own at least 10% of your business
  • Verified voting rights that, along with any other applicant and designated organization, is equal to or greater than 50%
  • Have completed at least a year of post-secondary education
  • Able to communicate in English or French
  • Do not intend to live in the province of Quebec
  • Have the minimal amount of savings to support yourself (about $12,000 and additional $2,000 per family member that would immigrate with you) Investment While you can obtain investments from just about anyone, you’ll need to secure minimal support from at least one of the three types of designated organizations: Venture capital fund: C$200k minimum investment Angel investor group: C$75k minimum investment Business incubator program: no investment required Within each of these categories, there are a limited number of organizations that qualify within each option.

Check the list of designated organizations provided by the IRCC in order to find the most up to date list. Each organization has their own set of criteria in place to evaluate the potential of your business plan. You’d be responsible for establishing contact and pitching your idea in an effort to obtain their support. If one of the organizations decides that they would like to invest in your business, you’d also be responsible for getting a Letter of Support to submit as part of your immigration application. The organization will also need to submit a Commitment Certificate directly to the IRCC to verify their support.

This certificate would outline the agreement between you and the organization in regards to the business venture. If the only way you can reach the minimum investment amount is through support from multiple organizations, you’ll be considered to be in syndication. In that case, you’ll need to provide letters of support from each organization. If any one of the organizations is a venture capital firm, then you will need to meet the minimum investment amount of C$200k, even if all of the other groups pledging support are angel investors.

All commitments are subject to a peer review process.

Ownership

You don’t have to be the sole proprietor of your business in order to be eligible for the visa. You, along with up to four other owners, can apply for the visa. Once your investment is secured, each owner would submit their own application for the start-up visa. Each owner must retain at least 10% of the voting rights for the business in order to qualify for the start-up visa. Additionally, all owners, together with all investors, must hold more than 50% of all voting rights for the business. If your business is owned by more than just yourself, the investor commitment can be conditional. That would mean that their promise of investment would only be guaranteed if whichever person (or people) was identified as “essential.” In that situation, the investment would only be given if the essential applicant was approved for immigration. If that person was rejected for the visa, then all other owners would also be rejected.

Self-employed

If you’re a successful author, musician, athlete, or the like, you can become a Canadian permanent resident through the self-employment visa program. You need to be working in cultural activities or athletics at a world-class level. This is also the program farmers can immigrate through, but at the moment that program is paused. They take your age, language skills, education, experience, and adaptability into account, on a points system. You and your family members must have a medical exam and get police certificates. You must also show that you have enough money to support yourself and your family after you get to Canada.

Investors Canada uses the Immigrant Investor Program (IIP) to grow Canada’s economy. Investors need business experience, have a net worth of at least C$1.6 million, and have C$800k to invest. You’ll need to pass a medical exam and a police check. You get your permanent resident visa after you make your investment. You’ll need to be able to do this within 30 days of your application being approved. Your investment will be returned, without interest, within six years. If you don’t meet the requirements for the IIP, you may qualify to be an investor through an investment program within a PNP.