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How do business people apply to immigrate to Canada?

Region: Ontario Answer # 679


People with the ability, experience, and money to set up or invest in a business are encouraged to immigrate to Canada in one of the business categories: self-employed immigrants, and the Start-up Visa Program for innovative entrepreneurs.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is constantly reviewing its programs and its quota for the number of applications it will accept under each category. Therefore it is important to confirm that applications are being accepted before beginning the process.


Programs that have been terminated

Since July 2014, the federal government terminated both the Federal Immigrant Investor and Federal Entrepreneur Programs. For more information about the cancellation of these programs, visit IRCC.

Details of these Programs are:

Federal Immigrant Investors:  Investors were applicants who showed that they had successfully operated, controlled, or directed a business. They required a net worth of at least $1,600,000, and they must have made a minimum investment of $800,000. The investments were allocated to participating provinces and territories in Canada and was fully guaranteed by them. IRCC would return the $800,000 investment, without interest, about five years and three months after it was made. The investor had little or no control over the investment and did not have access to the funds during this time. After the initial investment was made, investors could pursue other business opportunities in Canada but were not required to start a business in Canada.

Federal Entrepreneurs:  Under this program, entrepreneurs were people who had the intention and the ability to establish, purchase, or invest substantially in a business or commercial venture that would have created jobs and contribute to the economy. They required a net worth of at least $300,000 to immigrate to Canada. Entrepreneurs and their dependents were admitted to Canada on a conditional basis for three years. At the end of the three year period the entrepreneur must have satisfied the following conditions. First, they must have controlled at least one third of the equity of a business and have been actively involved in managing the business for at least one year within three years of landing in Canada. Second, they must have employed at least one Canadian citizen or permanent resident other than themselves or their dependents. They must also have proved that they had enough money to establish a business, cover the short-term operating costs, and support their dependents.


Business Immigration Programs – Currently in Operation


1. Self-Employed Persons Program

Self-employed people must establish or purchase a business in Canada that will keep them employed and contribute significantly to Canada’s economic, cultural, or artistic life. Self-employed people should be self-supporting based on a particular talent or skill. They must present documentation that proves their ability to support themselves and their dependents. Helpful documents could include a record of prior earnings or a history of success and achievement in their field. The application must include a brief outline of the business and a general operating plan.

The self-employed category is a flexible category that accepts many kinds of ventures, but doctors, nurses, lawyers and dentists should be aware that it is difficult for applicants in these professions to demonstrate that they would contribute significantly to the economy. In fact, these professions are not listed on the Occupations List, so you should consider an alternative or complementary occupation. See an immigration lawyer to help you select an appropriate alternative occupation if this applies to you.


2. Start-up Visa Program for innovative entrepreneurs

IRCC began the Start-up Visa Program in 2013. It’s goal is to recruit innovative immigrant entrepreneurs to Canada and pair them with experienced private sector organizations that have expertise in working with start-ups.

To be eligible to receive a start-up visa for a business venture, an applicant must:

  • prove their business idea is supported by a IRCC designated investor organization;
  • meet the language requirements;
  • meet the education requirements; and
  • have sufficient settlement funds.

A minimum investment of $200,000 is required to apply for a start-up fund if the investment comes from a designated Canadian venture capital fund. The minimum investment from a designated Canadian angel investor group must be $75,000.


Business Immigrant application process

The application process is the same for both those applying as self-employed immigrants and those applying under the Start-Up Visa Program for innovative entrepreneurs.

IRCC provides application packages which give detailed instructions on the process and list all forms that can be completed online. The application package should include a resumé, a statement of financial resources, and an indication of the type of business the applicant plans to buy or start. All applicants must also undergo a security check and a medical exam by a designated physician.


Applicants must also pay a processing fee for themselves and any family members. The processing fee depends on how many people are included in the application. An Immigration Officer will assess the application to see if the basic eligibility standards are met. If any member of the applicants is found ineligible to apply, their processing fee will be refunded.

If they are eligible, the application will be sent for processing. The application will be assessed, and at this stage no refund on the fee will be given if the application is denied.

Additionally, there may a Right of Permanent Residence Fee per adult applicant. Applicants are also responsible for the fees charged for: the medical exam; a police certificate; and the language test.

Visit IRCC for a list of all application fees.

Submit application

Once all forms are completed and signed, the application, processing fee (or receipt of payment) and any supporting documents, such as the results of the required language test, must be mailed to the Centralized Intake Office in Nova Scotia. The application must be sent to this location. It must not be sent to the visa office that serves the applicant’s home country.

The application will be reviewed and the applicant will likely be asked to attend an interview in their home country. At the interview, family members will be asked questions about their job, work experience, education, reasons for emigrating, health, financial situation, and past difficulty with the law. Answers to these questions will help the Immigration officer assess personal suitability, occupational expertise, professional qualifications, and overall ability to settle successfully in Canada.

If the application is approved, a permanent resident visa is issued.

Temporary changes due to COVID-19

Due to the current pandemic, the Government of Canada has implemented temporary changes to various immigration programs and procedures. For the most up-to-date information, visit canada.ca.

Get help

More information about immigrating to Canada under the Business Class is available from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. To find foreign consulates and embassies in your province, click here.

A criminal record will delay, and can even prevent you from getting your immigration status. To erase your criminal record, call toll-free 1-888-808-3628 or learn more at Pardon Partners. It’s easier than you think.

To determine whether you are able to immigrate under one of the Business Immigration Programs, and to ensure that your application is properly prepared, contact our preferred Immigration experts, Bright Immigration Consultants .

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