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TTN Immigration is willing to consult >> CONTACT US

Immigration options for entrepreneurs

If you wish to start and operate your own business in Canada, there are several options available to you as a foreign entrepreneur. Below, we will discuss the three most popular immigration programs for foreign entrepreneurs looking to establish their business in Canada.

1. Entrepreneur Work Permit Program

The Entrepreneur Work Permit Program is designed for individuals who are self-employed and entrepreneurs looking to come to Canada to start and operate their businesses. To apply for this program, entrepreneurs must own at least 50% of their business in Canada and present a business concept (or business plan) explaining how their business will contribute to the Canadian economy and create employment opportunities for Canadian citizens and residents.

Specifically, candidates should focus on the following questions in their business plan:

  • Why is the business plan feasible, and what benefits will it bring to the people of Canada?
  • How many job opportunities will the business create for Canadians?
  • Will the business improve/increase the export of products/services from Canada?
  • Will there be any technological advancements or other progress in Canada's industry through the introduction of innovation, differentiation, or skill enhancement?
  • Will the business contribute to the development of a local community or a remote area?
  • Will the business provide a unique service or sell unique products?

The initial work permit to operate a business in Canada will be granted for 2 years and can be extended if the company continues to actively engage in business operations. Entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to apply for permanent residency after operating the business for at least 1 year in Canada, provided they meet all the conditions for permanent residency application.

2. Start-up Visa Program

The Start-up Visa is a federal program designed to attract skilled entrepreneurs with the potential to build innovative businesses in Canada that compete on a global scale. This program provides long-term residency for the co-founders of a startup company.

To apply for the Startup Visa Program, your business idea or joint venture must first receive support from one or more Designated Organizations immigration authorities in Canada. There are three designated entities:

Each designated organization has its own intake process for proposals and evaluation criteria. Entrepreneurs working with a venture capital firm must ensure commitments $200.000 CAD . Those working with designated angel investors in Canada must present evidence of financial commitments. $75,000 CAD (or more). Candidates do not need to receive financial investment from a business incubator, but they must be accepted into a recognized startup incubator program in Canada.

Please note that designated organizations receive thousands of support applications, and it's not easy to receive investment or support from a designated organization.

Designated organizations tend to prefer investing in startups focused on ICT, clean technology, biotechnology, software, and products or services with higher growth potential than traditional businesses. In the short term, there must be some innovative aspects to your business.

In addition, remember that designated entities often require more than 1 idea and you need to demonstrate that you have a customer base or clients. If you have nothing more than an idea, then you can still try your luck with an incubator program. It can work if your idea has been validated, fully developed, and aligns with your level of expertise and experience. 

3. Provincial Entrepreneur Programs

If you are an experienced entrepreneur with a high net worth, looking to invest and actively manage your business in Canada, the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) streams for entrepreneurs could provide a pathway to permanent residency in Canada.

Each province in Canada has different investment criteria and assessment criteria, so you will need to verify your eligibility with the specific province. To apply, you need to develop a detailed business plan explaining the type of business you intend to purchase or establish and include financial forecasts demonstrating how acquiring or establishing this business will benefit the local economy and the overall job market.

Overall, the registration process is divided into 6 stages:

  1. Expression of Interest – register an expression of interest with your chosen province and describe your concept and investment plans
  2. Invitation to Apply – If your points are sufficient, the province will invite you to submit a registration application, including verification of your authenticity and the required documents.
  3. Interview – Once you meet the eligibility criteria, you will have an interview with the local immigration agency to discuss your business plan and commitments.
  4. The Performance Agreement & Implementation – You will be required to sign a Performance Agreement with the provincial authorities detailing the required investment amount, recruitment plan, and actively managing your business operations. At that point, you will also receive a work permit to begin implementing your business plan, including investing the committed amount into your business and creating employment opportunities for Canadians.
  5. Nomination – After complying with the terms of your performance agreement, you can apply for Permanent Residency Nomination to the provincial government.
  6. PR Application – After receiving the Nomination Letter from the Province, you can apply for permanent residency to the federal immigration authority.