March 19, 2024

Review of Canada’s Business and Investment Immigration Programs – Part One

Posted by Lijing Cao - Bellissimo Law Group PC

Canada extends a warm invitation to accomplished entrepreneurs and business professionals eager to seek new opportunities and challenges. The business and investment immigration programs actively promote and streamline the entry of these talented individuals. Both federal and provincial/territorial authorities embrace business immigrants, providing robust support services to aid in business establishment and integration into Canadian society. In the context of Canadian business immigration programs, this article delves into the federal options available to foreign entrepreneurs.

Federal Business Immigration Programs

a) Start-up Visa

The start-up visa program was initially introduced by the seventh set of Ministerial Instructions (MI7) in 2013 as a five-year pilot program aimed at providing entrepreneurs with permanent residency and access to business partners. Applicants for the start-up visa require a letter of support from a designated Canadian venture capital fund, angel investor group, or business incubator to support their business idea before applying for permanent residence. As of April 2018, the start-up visa business class became a permanent program under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR).

The start-up visa program offers a direct pathway to permanent residency, intending to attract a wide spectrum of start-ups with its multi-tiered designated organization endorsements. To qualify for the start-up visa program, you need to meet the following requirements:

  • Obtain a letter of support from a designated organization.
  • Have a business that meets the program’s criteria.
  • Meet the language requirements.
  • Have sufficient funds to settle and live in Canada before your business generates income.

Initially, you need to present your business idea to a designated organization and persuade them to endorse your start-up venture. Upon receiving their support, the designated organization will issue a commitment certificate to IRCC and provide you with a letter of support. The process for pitching your idea differs for each designated organization, so it’s essential to directly communicate with them to understand their specific requirements.

Regarding the level of language proficiency, you must achieve a Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) of 5 in reading, listening, speaking, and writing. With your application, you must submit the results of a third-party language test showing that you meet the language proficiency requirement.

The start-up visa program allows a group of up to 5 people to apply as owners of a single business. During the proposal reviewing process, the designated organization assesses each applicant’s role in the start-up. An ‘essential person’ is someone deemed crucial to the proposed venture. If the application of an essential person is refused, all related applicants will also be refused.

b) Self-employed Person

The objective of the self-employed program is to attract immigrants who have relevant experience and the intention and ability to be self-employed in Canada, making a significant contribution to the cultural or athletic life of Canada. As per section 102 of the IRPR, an officer will assess an applicant’s ability to become economically established in Canada based on five factors: age, education, language proficiency, experience, and adaptability.

Summary of Selection Criteria for Self-employed Persons Class

  • Eligibility: Self-employed Person
  • Selection Criteria (maximum points):
    • Experience (35 points)
    • Age (10 points)
    • Education (25 points)
    • Official Languages (24 points)
    • Adaptability (6 points)
  • Minimum Requirement: 35 points (out of 100)
  • Visa Status: Permanent Residency

To be eligible as a self-employed person, it is necessary to possess two years of relevant experience and demonstrate a clear intent to become self-employed in Canada. Your experience is relevant if you have either participated in cultural activities or athletics at a world-class level, or been a self-employed person in cultural activities or athletics.

While there is no minimum net worth requirement, it is important to prove that you possess sufficient funds to establish yourself in Canada with your dependents and finance the work on which your selection was based.

This article is prepared for information only and it is not intended to be legal advice. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact our team.