Start your Business in Canada with a Canadian Investor Visa
August 23, 2023
Reviewed By: David Allon
If you are an entrepreneur wanting to start a business or are looking to invest in a particular country, you will be happy to learn that Canada welcomes successful business people seeking new opportunities and challenges. The country's Business Immigration Program was established to attract business-minded individuals to immigrate to Canada. While the country has no specific Canadian Investor Visa, you can apply to a number of PNP Entrepreneur streams, get a start-up visa or even a self-employed person's visa and invest in the country in this way.
Does the Canadian Investor Visa Still Exist?
Canada’s federal Immigrant Investor Program no longer exists. On June 19, 2014, the Canadian Government passed Bill C-31, archiving and terminating any backlogged applications.
If you are still looking to immigrate to Canada via an investment pathway, you can apply to the Quebec’s Investor program and Entrepreneur Program, Canada’s Start-Up Visa program and the various provincial entrepreneur programs.
Canada’s PNP Streams For Entrepreneurs
If you would like to invest in Canada, take a look at our list of PNP entrepreneur streams.
- Farmer Stream
- The Rural Entrepreneur Stream
- Foreign Graduate Entrepreneur Stream
- Entrepreneur Stream
British Columbia PNP (BC PNP):
- BC Entrepreneur Stream
- Entrepreneur Category
- International Graduate Entrepreneur Category
- Farm Owner and Operator Category
- Manitoba Business Investor Stream (BIS)
- Entrepreneur Stream
- Business Stream
- New Brunswick Entrepreneurial Stream
- International Entrepreneur Category
- International Graduate Entrepreneur Category
- Business Nominee Program
- Entrepreneur Stream
Quebec Investor Pathways
As mentioned above, Quebec has two options for those who wish to invest and start a business in Canada.
The Quebec Investor Program
To qualify to immigrate to Québec as an investor, you must:
- Plan to settle here
- Have a minimum net worth of 2,000,000 CAD
- Have a minimum of two years’ management experience
- Sign an investment agreement with a financial intermediary who that has signed an agreement with the Ministère de l'Immigration, de la Francisation et de l'Intégration and IQ Immigrants investisseurs Inc
- Invest 1,200,000 CAD over five years
- Score enough points on the selection grid
- Get an attestation of learning about democratic values and Québec values
Quebec’s Entrepreneur Program
If you would like to immigrate to Quebec as an entrepreneur, you can apply to the province’s entrepreneur program. There are two components within this program:
- Starting and operating an innovative business - You must settle in the province and start your innovative business. You must obtain a service offer from a support organization, like a business accelerator or business incubator.
- Establish a new business or buy an existing one - To do this, your minimum net worth must be at least 900,000 CAD. You must submit a business plan and be able to manage the n=business. You must have a net worth of at least 900,000 CAD.
The Start-up Business Class
The Start-up Business Class program is an immigration program for foreign business owners and entrepreneurs who want to move to and establish a business in Canada. The program aims to facilitate, welcome and help business individuals on both federal and provincial levels, to start their businesses here.
Start a Business in Canada
With a Start-up Visa, business owners must intend to start a new business in Canada. The business will be subject to certain criteria before being classified as a qualifying enterprise. The following are important to note for new start-up business owners that received a "commitment" from:
- A legitimate angel investor group confirming the intention to invest at least $75,000 in qualifying businesses. Whether one business or a few businesses, the angel investor would have to confirm that they will be investing $75,000.
- A designated venture capital fund would have to confirm it is investing at least $200,000 in total in one or more than one qualifying businesses.
- Alternatively, a business incubator program would have to confirm that it is accepting the business incubator into its business program for incubator businesses.
Note: Canada defines an "investment" as "buying shares or other types of equity in the applicant's business." Due to this, convertible debt or debenture is not permitted.
What is Classified as a Qualifying Business?
For your business in Canada to be classified as a "qualifying business," you would need to meet the following criteria:
- A corporation with a commitment from a designated entity to continuing business in Canada is a qualifying business.
- The following factors should still hold When and if the commitment is made. Every applicant holds 10% or more of the voting rights that belong to all shares of the corporation at the time, and the applicants and the designated entity together possess over 50% of the total voting rights attached to all shares of the corporation outstanding at that time.
Note: According to the Canadian government, the Start-up Business Class requires businesses to be incorporated and continue with business in Canada when the commitment is made. However, the qualifying business may be considered if the incorporation is conditional upon the attainment of permanent residence by the applicant(s).
What is a "Commitment" in Canadian Business Terms?
This agreement between the business owner (the applicant) and the designated body (investor group/venture capital fund/business incubator) enables the business to function as a qualifying business in Canada. The authorized body must form part of the list of other authorized private business sectors. The applicant must provide proof of this agreement as a term sheet/client agreement and the Commitment Certificate. In other words, business owners must obtain a commitment certificate to be recognized as a legitimate business that wants to establish itself in Canada.
Start-up Business Class Requirements
Who Can Apply?
To be eligible for a Start-up Visa, you should note the following:
- You must receive a Letter of Support from an authorized body and meet the language requirements
- You must obtain a Commitment from a Designated Entity
- You must prove that you have sufficient transferable funds and other available funds
- You must be debt-free
- More than five persons cannot be part of a single commitment. You will have to make an application for each person if your commitment has more than one person related to the business agreement. In other words, each person named in the commitment certificate must have an application.
- Before applying to the Start-up Business Class, meet all the requirements. Know that there are other options if you cannot meet the criteria.
What You Would be Assessed on
You will be assessed for your reading, writing, listening, and speaking proficiency. You must ensure you meet the language requirement at benchmark level 5 in either official English or French for all four language skill areas (writing, reading, listening, and speaking. This is set out in the Canadian Language Benchmarks (English) and the Niveaux de compétence Linguistique Canadiens (French).If you want to increase your chances of immigrating to Canada under the Start-up Business Class, find out how essential the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is for Canadian immigration here.
How to Apply For a Start-up Visa
Step 1 - Gather Your Documents
You will need to supply the following documents with your application:
- A medical certificate
- Police clearance certificate
- Translations of documents not in English and French
Step 2: Fill Out Your Application
You must log in or create a new Permanent Residence online application portal account. Then complete the following digital forms online:
- The Generic Application Form for Canada (IMM 0008)
- A Schedule A – Background/Declaration (IMM 5669)
- Additional Family Information (IMM 5406)
- Supplementary Information - Your travels (IMM 5562)
Step 3: Pay Your Fees
You must pay certain fees when you submit your application. You are advised to pay the right of permanent residence fee of 515 CAD immediately to avoid delays, as it must be paid before you become a Canadian permanent resident.
Immigrate to Canada as a Self-Employed Person
The Self-employed Persons Program enables entrepreneurs or aspiring entrepreneurs to immigrate to Canada and gain permanent residence as self-employed persons.
Eligible persons must:
- Have the necessary experience in cultural activities or athletics
- Be eager to add value to Canada's cultural or athletic life.
Processing Times and Fees
The fees under this program are as follows:
|Application Processing fee||1,625|
|Right of permanent residence fee||515|
|Include your spouse or partner (excluding the right of permanent residence fee)||850|
|Include a dependent child||230 per child|
Your application may take up to 41 months to process, and applicants must provide their biometrics (photo and fingerprints) when submitting their application. Learn more about Canadian visa processing times.
Requirements for the Self-Employed Persons Program
To succeed in this program, candidates must know the requirements and meet the program criteria. You must:
- Have the necessary experience.
- Be able to survive as a self-employed person in Canada.
- Ensure that you meet the program's selection criteria.
- Meet the medical requirements to show that you are in good physical health, provide police clearance and meet other program conditions (where necessary)
What Relevant Experience is Required?
You should have at least two years of experience in the stipulated industry or field. This experience should still be valid during the five years before you apply, as well as the ending day on which the decision on your application is made. You can score additional points with three, four, or five years of industry experience.
For Cultural Activities, you must have one year's experience in the following:
- Self-employment in cultural activities, or
- Participation at a world-class level in cultural activities, or
If you are an athlete, your experience must be of:
- Being self-employed in athletics, or
- Participating at a world-class level in athletics, or
Candidates applying under this program will be assessed on their experience, education, age, language abilities, and adaptability. Medical and security checks are standard procedures; any other relevant requirements or conditions are needed to immigrate successfully.
Additionally, candidates must prove they have sufficient money to care for themselves and their families once they settle in Canada.
Benefits of Starting a Business in Canada
Safety and Security
As an investor or entrepreneur, you want the assurance of minimal costs and reduced risks. Ranked as one of the safest places to live in the world by the Global Peace Index (GPI), Canada has a low crime and corruption rate. This means that you will be putting your money into a secure environment.
Canada is one of the most politically stable countries in the world, with one of the largest economies in the world. This is good news for any investor. But before you leap, see for yourself by doing some research.
Innovation and Technology
Canada is a hub of innovation and technology. This is a major contributor to its status as one of the top economies in the world. Innovation is essential for investors since it stimulates productivity growth, enabling a quality standard of living.
High Standard of Living
A high standard of living shows that the country can distribute a fair share of goods and services to various socio-economic classes. A country that produces is a direct result of a prosperous economy - this is great for investors on many levels, which makes Canada the ideal country to invest in.
Does Everyone Have to Pay a Right of Permanent Residence Fee?
No. Those exempt from paying the Right of Permanent Residence Fee include:
- Your dependent children
- You, in an instance where you are the principal applicant and the dependent child of a permanent resident or Canadian citizen.
- You and your family member, if you are a protected person.