If you are a successful businessperson who is seeking new opportunities in Canada, a country that offers a range of social benefits and business incentives, the Business Immigration Program could be ideal for you.
Under this program, Canada’s federal and provincial/territorial governments welcome business immigrants, providing a range of services to assist them in starting a new enterprise or taking over an existing Canadian business. The Canadian government also provides support for business immigrants to get settled in the country with several pathways to permanent residence, eventually enabling them to become Canadian citizens.
There are various requirements and processes for the federal and territorial options. In this article, we will explore the options available to foreign entrepreneurs under the Canada Business Immigration Program.
What are the benefits of the Canada Business Immigration Program?
The Canada Business Immigration Program provides a range of benefits for foreign entrepreneurs, conferring permanent residence status for successful applicants. If you then live in Canada for at least three years, you can apply for Canadian citizenship and access all the advantages that status offers. The advantages include:
Stable economy: Canada has a stable and well-regulated economy, which is recognized globally for its resilience. The country has a strong banking system and transparent business practices, providing a secure environment for investments and running a business in Canada.
Quality of life: Canada consistently ranks highly in quality of life indexes, making it an attractive option for foreign nationals.
Permanent residency: When you move to Canada as a business immigrant, you can become a permanent resident and eventually a Canadian citizen.
Visa-free travel and fast visa processing times for many countries and territories: As of 2023, Canadian citizens can enjoy visa-free travel to 172 nations and territories.
Social benefits: Healthcare coverage and retirement benefits
Access to elite education for immigrants’ children: Several world-class schools and universities across the country
Investment incentives: Some provinces and territories offer grants and tax breaks to business immigrants
For details about the benefits of a Canadian passport, which could become possible through this immigration program, please see our article on the power of the Canadian passport.
There are many different programs under both the federal and provincial governments; in this article, we will explore some of the eligibility requirements of each of them.
More Information About Each Program
Federal investment programs
Canada’s Federal Government offers several options for self-employed individuals and for those looking to start new businesses.
Buy a Business and Move to Canada
Under the Federal Government’s Owner-Operator Program, entrepreneurs can buy or establish a new business in Canada, enabling them to qualify for a temporary work visa.
The Buy a Business and Move to Canada is not a formal government program, but it enables immigrant investors to get a work visa and then apply for permanent residence after a year.
Startup Visa program
The Startup Visa, also known as the Canada Investor Visa, is a Federal program, established in 2013, offers permanent residence and work permits. For further details on this program, please see our article Canada Start-Up Visa: The Ultimate Guide by Experts.
Entrepreneurs wishing to immigrate to Canada under the Start-Up Visa Program need to have a qualifying business, meet various language requirements, and ensure that they have a sufficient personal net worth to support themselves.
To apply for a Startup Visa, you must get support from at least one venture capital fund, angel investor group, or business incubator program.
If your business fails, your permanent residence status will not be affected.
Provincial immigration programs
As well as the federal government’s immigration programs, there are a range of programs in which Canada’s provincial governments can nominate successful applicants for business immigration.
The Quebec Investor Program required applicants to have a legally acquired personal net worth of CAD $2,000,000 and make a non-refundable investment of CAD $1,200,000 with a financial intermediary that was authorized to participate.
The program has been suspended since 2019, and it will remain closed until January 2024.
British Columbia has three streams for business immigration: Entrepreneur Immigration Stream, Entrepreneur Immigration – Regional Pilot, and Entrepreneur Immigration – Strategic Projects.
The Entrepreneur Immigration Stream is intended for experienced entrepreneurs who wish to establish a new business or take over and grow an existing business within the province. Candidates for this stream are required to have a personal net worth of at least CAD $600,000. If you meet these requirements, you can prepare a short business concept and a business proposal and register it with the British Columbia Provincial Nominee Program (BC PNP).
The Regional Pilot Stream is aimed at foreign entrepreneurs who want to start a new business in a small community.
In the Strategic Projects stream, foreign-controlled corporations can establish a new business or purchase and expand an eligible business. To meet the eligibility criteria, the foreign corporation must create three new jobs for Canadian citizens or permanent residents for each foreign key staff member involved (a maximum of five is permitted), and they must make a minimum equity investment of CAD $500,000.
The Alberta Farm Stream is for individuals with farm management skills and funds to invest in Alberta’s farming industry, either by establishing a new farm or by purchasing an existing farm in the province. The investment must be at least CAD $100,000, and candidates must submit a business proposal to the Alberta Advantage Immigration Program (AAIP)
The Rural Entrepreneur Stream is for foreign entrepreneurs who wish to start a new business or purchase an existing business in a rural area of Alberta. An investment of CAD $100,000 is required, and a business plan must be submitted to the AAIP.
The Foreign Graduate Entrepreneur Stream is designed for well-qualified graduates from foreign countries who have received their education outside of Canada. It provides them with an opportunity to establish innovative businesses and start-up enterprises in Alberta.
The Graduate Entrepreneur Stream enables Alberta to recommend skilled international graduates who have completed their studies at Alberta post-secondary institutions and wish to establish or run a business within Alberta to apply for permanent residency.
The Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program enables the provincial government to nominate candidates for immigration to the Federal Government.
The business immigration candidates are separated into two streams: The Entrepreneur Stream and the International Graduate Entrepreneur Stream.
The Entrepreneur Stream comprises experienced business owners wishing to start a new business or buy a business in the province and that will be involved in the day-to-day management.
To be eligible, candidates must have at least three years of entrepreneurial experience or relevant management experience and a minimum legally acquired personal net worth of $500,000. They must invest $200,000 in a business in the province; this amount rises to $300,000 if the candidate is investing in the province’s two largest cities — Regina and Saskatoon.
Eligibility for the International Graduate Entrepreneur Stream is determined if your business plan meets the criteria and you meet the following conditions:
- Reside in Saskatchewan and are 21 years of age or older
- Have successfully completed a two-year, full-time post-secondary degree or diploma program from a Saskatchewan institution while residing in the province
- Hold a valid Post-Graduate Work Permit
- Possess a minimum Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) level of 7
The Manitoba Business Investor Stream enables Manitoba to attract and nominate capable business investors and entrepreneurs from various parts of the globe who possess the intention and capability to initiate or acquire businesses in Manitoba.
The stream includes the Entrepreneur Pathway and the Farm Investor Pathway.
To qualify for the Entrepeneur Pathway, you need:
- Minimum three years of recent full-time work experience as a business owner or in a senior management role in a successful business
- Business owners need at least 33.33 percent ownership to gain points.
- Language proficiency at CLB/NCLC 5
- Canadian high school equivalency education
- No age limits, but points favor candidates aged 25 to 49.
- Minimum investment of CAD $250,000 in Winnipeg or CAD $150,000 CAD elsewhere, creating/maintaining one job (excluding owners/close relatives)
- A business plan and research visit conducted within a year before submitting an Expression of Interest (EOI)
- Minimum net worth of CAD $500,000 verified by a third-party supplier
- Signing a Business Performance Agreement upon approval for a work permit support letter
The application is also subject to an adaptability points assessment for language skills, close relatives in Manitoba, your child’s full-time education, or your full-time employment in Manitoba.
For the Manitoba Farm Investor Pathway, the requirements are:
- Farm Business Experience: Possess a minimum of three years of documented farm ownership and operational experience.
- Official Languages Proficiency: Recognize the importance of language skills in either of Canada’s official languages for economic establishment in rural Manitoba. FIP interviews are conducted in English or French.
- Farm Business Investment: Invest at least CAD $300,000 in eligible tangible assets for establishing a farming business in rural Manitoba. A farm business plan is required.
- Farm Business Research Visit: Conduct a research visit to Manitoba related to your farm business.
- Farm Business Activities: Engage in ongoing and viable primary agriculture production, residing on and actively managing the farm within Manitoba. Value-added farm business activities are required.
- Economic Establishment Adaptability: Demonstrate adaptability in practical farming skills, technical knowledge, and technological farming practices applicable to Manitoba’s primary farm production industry.
- Net Worth: Maintain a minimum net worth of CAD $500,000, potentially subject to verification by a third-party service provider upon request. Verification must be submitted within 120 days of receiving an Invitation to Apply.
The Ontario Corporate Stream is suitable for international corporations that want to buy an existing business or to expand into the province. Once a business is successfully established, the Ontario government can nominate five key individuals in the business for permanent residence, who can then apply for permanent resident status through the federal government.
These companies must create five permanent, full-time jobs for Canadian citizens or permanent residents for each foreign key staff member. For example, if you are proposing five key staff positions, you must create 25 full-time jobs.
The Ontario Entrepreneur Stream is designed for individuals looking to start a new business or buy an existing business. As well as having a minimum personal net worth of CAD $400,000 as well as two years of full-time business experience in the past 60 months, applicants must meet a range of other criteria.
The New Brunswick Provincial Nominee Program (NBPNP) includes both Entrepreneurial Stream and Post-Graduate Entrepreneurial Stream
The NBPNP Entrepreneurial Stream is designed for immigrant entrepreneurs wishing to own and actively manage a business that will bring significant economic benefits to the province. There are various eligibility criteria are:
- Score a minimum of 65 points on New Brunswick’s unique selection grid
- Hold a minimum of two years of post-secondary education beyond high school
- Have either three out of five years of business ownership (at least 33.3 percent) or five years of senior business management experience, overseeing a minimum of two employees
- Attain a minimum Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 5 in English or French
- Possess a personal net worth of at least CAD $600,000, with CAD $300,000 free from debts or obligations.
- Show the intent to reside and operate a business in New Brunswick.
- Present a business concept with significant potential for economic benefit to the province.
- Desire permanent residency in New Brunswick while owning and managing a local business.
- Actively manage the business on a daily basis.
- Be aged 21 to 59.
Meanwhile, the Post-Graduate Entrepreneurial Stream (PGES) is for graduates of recognized institutions in New Brunswick seeking to establish or acquire a business in the province.
Eligibility for this stream includes being aged 22-40, demonstrating English or French proficiency (CLB 7), scoring a minimum of 65 out of 100 on the PGES points assessment, holding a post-secondary degree or diploma from New Brunswick, residing in the province during the academic program, owning and operating a business in New Brunswick for at least one year, having a valid post-graduation work permit, and showing intent to settle in New Brunswick.
The business must meet specific criteria, such as operating for at least one year, the applicant owning 100 percent equity, paying a salary meeting the Low Income Cut-Off (LICO), and creating a full-time job for a Canadian citizen or permanent resident.
Prince Edward Island
The Prince Edward Island (PEI) Business Impact Category includes two streams: The 100 Percent Ownership Stream and the Work Permit Stream.
The PEI PNP’s 100 Percent Ownership Stream is for experienced business managers and entrepreneurs who want to invest in and run a business in Prince Edward Island. To be eligible, applicants must meet specific requirements:
- Submit all required forms and documentation
- Pay a CAD $7,500 application fee
- Have a verifiable net worth of at least CAD $600,000 from legal sources
- Hold at least a high-school level education
- Be between 21-59 years old
- Possess transferable management skills and work experience
- Score a minimum of 4.0 on the IELTS/TEF within the last two years
- Present a detailed business plan for 100 percent ownership in an eligible sector
- Actively manage the business in Prince Edward Island
- Sign an escrow agreement with a CAD $200,000 deposit held by the province
- Invest a minimum of CAD $150,000 in a Prince Edward Island business in accordance with immigration laws
If an applicant meets these criteria and is approved, they will receive a nomination certificate.
If you want to move to Prince Edward Island, invest in and manage a business, and eventually become a permanent resident, you might qualify for permanent residency through PEI’s Work Permit Stream. Here’s what you need to know:
- You must have a verifiable net worth of at least CAD $600,000 from legal sources
- A minimum education level equivalent to secondary school is required
- Your age should be between 21 and 59 when you apply
- You should have transferable management skills and prior employment or business ownership experience
- Meet language requirements equivalent to CLB/NCLC 4
- Plan to live and work in PEI, actively managing your PEI-based company
- Attend an interview with the Office of Immigration staff
- Fulfill the terms and conditions of the Performance Agreement with the Office of Immigration
- Read the Business Application Guide.
- Create a profile in the Prince Edward Island Expression of Interest system, providing accurate passport and contact details.
- Keep your profile active for six months; update it if your situation changes before or after being invited to apply.
- An Expression of Interest is not an application but expresses your interest in the PEI PNP Business Impact Category.
- If invited to apply, you’ll receive instructions for submitting your application, which includes forms and supporting documents.
- Ensure the information in your Expression of Interest Profile aligns with your application to avoid discrepancies.
- Misrepresentations may lead to ineligibility for two years.
- Submit your complete application package with all documentation and the $10,000 application fee to the Office of Immigration.
The Northwest Territories (NWT) Business Stream is for those with investment capital and business expertise who want to buy or start a business in the region.
Investment: Candidates must invest either a minimum of CAD $300,000 within the corporate boundaries of Yellowknife, NWT, or CAD $150,000 outside of Yellowknife in starting or acquiring a business.
Personal net worth: Applicants need a personal net worth of at least CAD $500,000 if they are investing in Yellowknife or CAD $250,000 if they are investing outside Yellowknife.
Ownership: They must demonstrate ownership of at least one-third (33.3 percent) of the business. For investments exceeding CAD $1,000,000, ownership requirements may vary.
Deposit: A CAD $75,000 deposit is required, held in trust and released upon fulfilling the Business Performance Agreement terms.
Knowledge and language: Applicants should show a reasonable understanding of the NWT and its economy. Language proficiency equivalent to CLB level 4 in English or French is mandatory, with valid test results from approved agencies.
Experience and education: Candidates must possess the necessary qualifications and experience to execute the business plan effectively.
Financial capability: They should demonstrate financial capacity to operate the business, support themselves, and any dependents throughout the Business Performance Agreement.
Other requirements: Applicants should not have active applications in other Northwest Territories Nominee Program (NTNP) streams and must display adequate communication skills for business and community integration.
Business plan implementation: Finally, they need the experience and education required for successful business plan execution.
The Entrepreneur Stream in Nova Scotia is for experienced business owners or senior managers who want to live in the province. They must start a new business or purchase an existing one and actively manage it. After running the business for a year, they can apply for permanent resident status. This stream is invitation-only.
To apply, you must:
- Be at least 21 years old
- Want to permanently reside in Nova Scotia while owning and managing a local business
- Have a net worth of at least CAD $600,000
- Be ready to invest at least CAD $150,000 of your own money in a Nova Scotia business
- Possess a minimum of three years of experience actively managing or owning a business (with at least one-third ownership) or have over five years of experience in a senior business management role
- Score at least 5 on the Canadian Language Benchmark in English or French (speaking, listening, reading, and writing)
- Complete an online Expression of Interest
- Receive an Invitation to Apply from the Nova Scotia Office of Immigration
- Complete the Expression of Interest.
- If invited to apply, fill out the application form and provide all necessary information and documents.
Newfoundland and Labrador
The Newfoundland and Labrador International Graduate Entrepreneur Category is designed to help the province address its labor needs through immigration.
The eligibility requirements for the International Graduate Entrepreneur Category are that you must:
- Be at least 21 years old
- Present a business continuity plan with verified financial documentation from a recognized third-party professional (you are responsible for associated fees)
- Have completed a degree or diploma with at least two years of full-time, in-person study at Memorial University or College of the North Atlantic, finished within two years of submitting your Expression of Interest
- Hold a valid post-graduate work permit
- Desire permanent residency in Newfoundland and Labrador while owning and actively managing a local business that can economically benefit the province
- Possess one year of continuous experience actively managing and owning the current business (with a minimum 33.3 percent ownership)
- Show the ability to create at least one full-time job for a local resident (permanent resident or Canadian citizen)
- Operate a for-profit business primarily focused on earning profits through goods or services.
- Achieve a score of at least 7 on the Canadian Language Benchmark in English or French (speaking, listening, reading, and writing)
- Submit an online Expression of Interest
- Receive an Invitation to Apply from the Office of Immigration and Multiculturalism
- Applicants prioritizing regional economic development or high-demand industries (e.g., agriculture, aquaculture, technology, natural resources) will receive special consideration
Additional Criteria for the International Graduate Entrepreneur Category:
There are two streams: Starting a New Business and Purchasing an Existing Business, and both have unique criteria.
Starting a New Business:
- Create at least one full-time year-round job for a Canadian citizen or permanent resident in Newfoundland and Labrador, separate from any positions filled by the applicant’s dependents or relatives.
- The job must be directly related to the applicant’s business and meet provincial wage levels.
Purchasing an Existing Business:
- The business must have had the same owner for the past five years, with no receivership.
- Provide evidence of fair market value determination for the business.
- Offer employment with terms and conditions similar to existing staff, including wages and employment terms.
The International Entrepeneur Category is for those who want to establish, co-manage or buy a business. To qualify, you must:
- Be aged 21 to 59
- Present a business plan with verified financial documents by a recognized third-party professional (you cover associated fees)
- Hold a Canadian high school diploma or foreign equivalent verified by an Education Credential Assessment (ECA) within the last five years
- Aim to reside permanently in Newfoundland and Labrador while owning and actively managing a local business with substantial economic potential
- Possess at least CAD $600,000 in unencumbered net assets transferable to Canada
- Invest a minimum of CAD $200,000 of personal funds in a Newfoundland and Labrador business with at least 33.3 percent ownership or CAD $1 million in equity investment
- Prove the ability to create at least one full-time job for local residents (permanent residents and citizens)
- Operate a for-profit business focused on generating profits through goods/services sales
- Have either two years of active business ownership (minimum 25 percent ownership) in the last five years or five years of senior business management experience in the last ten years
- Achieve a minimum score of 5 on the Canadian Language Benchmark in English or French (acceptable tests include Canadian English Language Proficiency Program (CELPIP), International English Language Testing System (IELTS), or Test d’évaluation de Français (TEF))
- Complete an online Expression of Interest (EOI)
- Receive an Invitation to Apply from the Office of Immigration and Multiculturalism
Priority consideration is given to applicants supporting regional economic development or targeting high-demand industries (e.g., agriculture, aquaculture, technology, and natural resources).
For International Entrepreneur applicants applying from outside the province, an initial exploratory visit to Newfoundland and Labrador is mandatory before submitting an official application to the Office of Immigration and Multiculturalism.
Additional Criteria for an International Entrepreneur:
There are two streams within this category: Starting a New Business and Purchasing an Existing Business, each with unique criteria in addition to those mentioned above.
Additional Criteria for Starting a New Business:
If starting a business, you must create at least one full-time job for a Canadian citizen or permanent resident in Newfoundland and Labrador. This job must be:
- Separate from any position filled by you, your dependents, or relatives
- Directly related to your business
- Compliant with prevailing wage levels
If you are purchasing an existing business in Newfoundland and Labrador, the additional criteria are:
- The business must have been under the same owner’s operation for the previous five years.
- All applicants purchasing or partnering in an existing business must visit and meet the current owner(s) if applying from outside the province.
- Provide evidence of efforts to establish a fair market value for the business.
- The business must be actively operational, not in receivership.
- Applicants must offer employment on similar terms and conditions to existing staff, including maintaining existing wages and employment terms.
The Yukon Business Nominee Program is designed for entrepreneurs to be able to own and operate a business in the province, which will then grant them a two-year path to permanent residency.
Those nominated for the program by the province will receive a two-year work permit from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), allowing them to establish themselves and their business in Yukon. Afterward, the territory provides support for applying for permanent residence with IRCC if the eligibility requirements are met.
To qualify, candidates must demonstrate language proficiency at CLB level 4 or higher and have a background in business ownership or management, with at least three years of entrepreneurial or business management experience and five years of related work experience. Additionally, they need a personal net worth of at least CAD $500,000 and must invest a minimum of CAD $300,000 in a Yukon business, owning at least one-third of it.
Eligible candidates must score a minimum of 65 points on the Yukon Business Nominee points assessment grid. The application process involves registering with the Yukon Business Nominee Program, submitting a business proposal, and, if selected, attending an in-person interview in Yukon. Successful applicants receive a work permit, establish their business, and, if they meet performance agreement conditions, receive a nomination for permanent residence.
Following the nomination, applicants have six months to submit a paper-based application for Canadian permanent residence, typically processed within 18 months. The program’s assessment grid considers factors such as investment, liquid assets, education, age, language proficiency, work experience, and the location of the proposed business.
Why work with Global Citizen Solutions?
If you think Canadian business immigration may be a good option for you, don’t hesitate to contact us and book a complimentary 30-minute call with one of our experts.
Global Citizen Solutions is a boutique investment migration consultancy firm focused on finding the right residency or citizenship by investment program for individuals wishing to secure their future and become global citizens. With offices in Portugal, the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, and Brazil, our multilingual team guides individuals and families from start to finish, providing expert advice considering freedom, mobility, taxation, and security.
- We have helped hundreds of clients from 35+ countries navigate the intricacies of the top residency by investment and citizenship by investment programs. With an in-depth and comprehensive understanding of the area, we provide our clients with solid guidance. We have a team of immigration lawyers and immigration advisers specialized in US immigration.
- Our team has never had a case rejected. Our 100 percent approval rate sets us apart from our competitors and guarantees that you can expect a successful application.
- Our transparent pricing covers all the processes from opening your bank account, document certification, and legal due diligence to investment and submission. As there is one fee for the entire process, you can be confident that you will not face any hidden costs later.
- All data is stored within a GDPR-compliant database on a secure SSL-encrypted server. You can be safe knowing that your personal data is treated with the utmost security.
- Global Citizen Solutions provides an all-encompassing solution. Our support can continue even after you receive your passport. We offer additional services such as company incorporation, Trusts, and Foundations formation.
- The BeGlobal Onboarding System® allows you to access the status of your application every step of the way, something that sets us apart from our competitors.
Frequently Asked Questions about Canada Business Immigration
Can I move to Canada if buy a business?
Yes, Canada’s Owner-Operator Program enables foreign entrepreneurs to buy or establish a business in the country, provided they have sufficient funds, can operate the business the business in Canada, have language abilities in French or English, and have a minimum of three years of managerial or business ownership experience.
Does Canada have an entrepreneur visa?
Yes, Canada’s federal government has an entrepreneur visa, also known as the Startup Visa program. There are also several entrepreneur visas that you can apply for through the nation’s provincial governments.
Is it worth immigrating to Canada?
There are many benefits to immigrating to Canada, including a high quality of life, a stable economy, and pathways to permanent residency and eventually citizenship.
What is the difference between support from venture capital funds, angel investor groups, and business incubators?
If you seek support from a designated venture capital fund, you need to get an investment of at least CAD $200,000. For angel investor group, the minimum investment is CAD $75,000. If you want support from a business incubator, you do not need financial investment, but you will need to be admitted into a Canadian business incubator program.
What is the typical timeline to get permanent residency of Canada through business immigration?
After getting your work permit, which typically takes between two and four months, permanent residence is likely to take an additional one to two years to obtain.
What is the Canada Start-Up Visa?
The Startup Visa, also known as the Canada Investor Visa, is a federal program, established in 2013, offering permanent residence and work permits.
How should I determine which Canadian business immigration program is suitable for me?
With Canada offering a wide range of business immigration streams, both federally and provincially, it is advisable to consider the various eligibility requirements of each stream, your personal goals, and where you would like to be based.
What are Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs)?
PNPs allow Canadian provinces and territories to nominate individuals who wish to immigrate to Canada and are interested in settling in a particular province.