Who should read this?

Are you a business owner or a senior manager? Are you looking for a path to immigrate to Canada?

If so, by going through this basic guide you will discover a new pathway for immigration to Canada. Also, you will have an understanding of what the business immigration programs for Canada are like. And you will also be able to do a basic self-evaluation of whether or not you may be eligible to apply for these streams.

Have you exhausted other options?

Business immigration or Entrepreneur immigration program provides a great opportunity for business owners or senior managers who wish to immigrate to Canada, but just don’t qualify through other streams, like the very popular Federal Skilled Worker program or PNP programs for skilled workers. If you can qualify through express entry, go for that option instead since it will be much quicker, simpler and cheaper.

But there’s a catch with skilled immigration programs, they often require young professionals with a few years of work experience with a post graduate degree and excellent English or French language skills. To put things in perspective, an ideal candidate for Express Entry in 2020 is someone who is 29 years old, has a Masters Degree, has 3-6 years of work experience and has scored CLB 9 in the language exam.

Entrepreneur immigration programs of the different provinces of Canada have been designed in such a way that they have a lot of emphasis on your past business ownership experience, your net worth, your investment and your business plan. So age, education and English skills don’t play as big a role in Entrepreneur immigration as they do in Skilled immigration programs.

Basic requirements of business immigration

Relevant experience disqualifies a lot of potential candidates who might have a high net worth and a might be willing to invest but they lack the relevant experience. The pyramid below highlights the basic requirements

1. Business Experience

All business immigration programs of Canadian provinces aka Entrepreneur immigration programs, will require the candidate to have relevant experience as a business owner or as a senior business manager in the past 5 years. Usually 2 out of the last 5 years is the minimum requirement. The is the most critical requirement which has to be fulfilled to go any further.

2. Net Worth

The next requirement is having a certain minimum net worth.

Net worth is calculated by subtracting all liabilities from assets. An asset is anything owned and has monetary value, while liabilities are obligations that deplete resources. 

Investopedia.com

Quoting BC’s Entrepreneur program guide:

You must disclose all of your personal net worth, including all your assets and those of your spouse or common-law partner, and your dependent children, less any liabilities including mortgages and personal debts:

  • cash
  • assets in bank accounts (e.g., personal chequing and savings accounts)
  • fixed (term) deposits (redeemable/cashable within one year)
  • real property (e.g., real estate, personal and commercial property ownership)
  • investments in bonds, stocks and mutual funds
  • investments in one or more businesses (current value of your percentage ownership in business(es), excluding stocks held in investment portfolios that have been included under liquid investments above)
  • pensions and other assets (i.e. jewelry, collectables, etc.)
  • liabilities such as real property mortgage(s) or other debts (e.g., personal loans, credit card debt)

The current minimum net worth requirement for different provinces business immigration or entrepreneur programs is as follows:

PROVINCEMIN. NET WORTH ($ CAD)
Ontario800,000 or 400,000
British Columbia600,000 or 300,000
Manitoba500,000
Saskatchewan500,000
Nova Scotia600,000
New Brunswick600,000
Yukon500,000
Northwest Territories300,000

3. Investment Amount

It’s one thing to have assets and the required net worth, another matter completely to be willing to invest a significant portion of that amount. That’s why the amount you can invest in your proposed business in Canada is the third most critical factor. The min. investment requirements for different provinces are as follows:

PROVINCEMIN. INVESTMENT ($ CAD)
Ontario600,000 or 200,000
British Columbia300,000 or 100,000
Manitoba250,000 or 150,000
Saskatchewan300,000 or 200,000
Nova Scotia150,000
New Brunswick250,000
Yukon300,000
Northwest Territories300,000 or 150,000

4. Business Concept

Most province’s business immigration programs are based on a scoring system.The better your business concept, the more detailed your business plan with clear research, the more points you score. Scoring also depends on the type of business, and whether or not it matches with your past business experience.

This also includes the number of jobs that you’ll be creating for Canadians. And the location of your business within a specific province, whether it’s in a metropolitan or in smaller cities.

It’s a logical approach as if you can prove that you’re more likely to be success in the business because you have done detailed market research, you are choosing a business which will be in-demand and you have relevant experience.

5. Personal factors

Finally, you’re scored based on some personal factors such as your:

  • Age
  • Education
  • Language Skills (Usually CLB 4 or higher i.e. 4.5 in listening, 4 in speaking, writing and 3.5 in reading)
  • Adaptability factors e.g. Spouse’s education, Relatives in Canada, Past education or work experience in Canada

Other than the language scores and a broad age range to apply, there is generally no mandatory requirement in the above personal factors.

Starting a business vs investment only

Most business immigration programs in Canada require you to start your business and stay in that province for at least 70% of the time. There is one program where you don’t have to do this. In the Quebec Investor Program, you need to give a loan to the government of Quebec for 5 years and you’re not required to start your business. Thus, this is a purely an investment program whereas the program mentioned earlier are entrepreneur programs where active business management is required. So which option should you go for?

Starting your business is Canada has its benefits such as:

  • Stable economy
  • Consistent policies of the government
  • Easy access to talent
  • Fair business practices & rule of law
  • A good currency exchange rate

Complete list of business immigration programs

The government of Canada offers a wide range of business immigration programs. In total there are more than 20 such programs available today. Here are some of the programs and their basic requirements:

  1. Federal-Self Employed Program (Read more)
  2. Federal Start-up Visa Program (Read more)
  3. Intra-company transfer (Read more)
  4. Owner-Operator LMIA (Watch the video)
  5. Quebec Self-Employed program
  6. Quebec Investor Program (Watch the video)
  7. Quebec Entrepreneur Program – Stream 1
  8. Quebec Entrepreneur Program – Stream 2
  9. OINP (Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program) Entrepreneur
  10. BC (British Columbia) Entrepreneur
  11. BC Entrepreneur – Regional Pilot
  12. Manitoba Business Investor Scheme – Entrepreneur Pathway
  13. Manitoba Business Investor Scheme – Farm Investor Pathway
  14. Saskatchewan Entrepreneur
  15. Saskatchewan Farm Owner & Operation
  16. Saskatchewan Farm Owner & Operation – Young Farmer
  17. AINP (Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program) – Self-Employed Farmer
  18. New Brunswick PNP Entrepreneurial Stream
  19. Nova Scotia Entrepreneur
  20. Nova Scotia Entrepreneur – International Graduate
  21. Newfoundland & Labrador Entrepreneur
  22. Newfoundland & Labrador Entrepreneur – International Graduate Entrepreneur

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is minimum net worth & investment for Ontario Entrepreneur or business immigration?

The min net worth within GTA is 800,000 and outside GTA is 400,000. The min personal investment within GTA is 600,000 and outside GTA is 200,000 with at least one third equity in the business. For an ICT/Digital communications related business, the min net worth, regardless of location within Ontario is 400,000 and min personal investment required is 200,000.

What is minimum net worth & investment for British Columbia (BC) Entrepreneur or business immigration?

For the base category, the min net worth within is 600,000 and the min personal investment is 200,000. For the BC regional pilot, the min net worth is 300,000 and the min personal investment is 100,000.

What is minimum net worth & investment for Manitoba business immigration?

500,000 min net worth is required for the Manitoba Business Investor StreamĀ – Entrepreneur pathway. The min investment is 250,000 if the business is with the Manitoba Capital region and 150,000 if the business is outside the Manitoba capital region.
For the Manitoba Farm Investor Pathway, the min net worth requirement is 500,000 and min personal investment required is 300,000 in a farming business in rural Manitoba.

What is minimum net worth & investment for Alberta Entrepreneur or business immigration?

500,000 is the min net worth required for the Alberta Self-Employed Farmer Stream. Also, proof that a Canadian financial institution is willing to finance your proposed farming business is required. This is currently the only business stream for Alberta.

What is minimum net worth & investment for Saskatchewan Entrepreneur or business immigration?

500,000 min net worth and min investment of $300,000 in Regina and Saskatoon or a minimum of $200,000 in all other Saskatchewan communities.

What is minimum net worth & investment for Quebec Investor Program?

Min net worth of 2 Million Canadian Dollars and an investment loan of 1.2 million Canadian Dollars is required. The loan will be returned after a period of 5 years without interest. Financing options are available.