What You Need to Know About Business Immigration to Canada

September 13, 2023


  • Sinethemba Phongolo

Canada has become an attractive destination for business immigrants worldwide. Its strong economy, favorable business environment, and abundant resources offer numerous opportunities for immigrant entrepreneurs.

Whether you are looking to start a new business in Canada or expand your existing one, understanding the different immigration programs and their benefits is crucial.

Ready to level up your business prospects in Canada’s accommodating commercial market? Let’s look at what you need to know about business immigration to Canada.

Business Immigration to Canada

You can accomplish business immigration to Canada through the following immigration visa pathways offered by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

Start-up Visa Program

The Start-up Visa Program is designed for entrepreneurs with a viable business idea, who can create jobs and contribute to the growth of Canada’s economy. Most importantly, you must demonstrate your intentions to permanently live and work in Canada.

Using the Start-up Visa Program provides you with a fast-track and streamlined pathway to permanent residency in Canada, should you be eligible.

Learn more about how to immigrate to Canada as an entrepreneur with a start-up visa.

Self-Employed Visa Program

The Self-Employed Visa Program aims at individuals with relevant occupational experience in artistic and athletic activities. To apply for this program, you must demonstrate your ability to significantly contribute to Canada's athletic and artistic development.

Learn more about how to apply for permanent residency in Canada if you are self-employed.

Business Visitor Visa

The Business Visitor Visa allows foreign nationals to enter Canada temporarily for business purposes. This visa is suitable for individuals who are seeking to engage in international business activities, such as:

  • Attending meetings
  • Business conferences
  • Commerce and trade shows
  • Entrepreneurial networking
  • Exploring business opportunities

Please Note

A business visitor visa does not grant work authorization in Canada.

Find out more about how to get a business visa for Canada in 5 easy steps.

Provincial Nominee Programs for Business People

To create jobs in key communities and industries, Canada's provinces and territories offer their immigration programs for business people. These Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs) are designed to attract entrepreneurs and investors to specific regions in Canada.

If successful, the PNP business stream you applied to will grant you a provincial nomination, providing you with an additional 600 Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) points, which can increase your chances of being drawn from your Express Entry pool if you have a profile.

PNP streams and pathways for business immigration to Canada are outlined in the table below:

Canadian Provinces PNP Business Streams and Pathways
Alberta Foreign Graduate Entrepreneur Stream
Graduate Entrepreneur Stream
Rural Entrepreneur Stream
British Columbia Entrepreneur Stream
Manitoba Business Investor Stream
New Brunswick Entrepreneurial Stream
Newfoundland and Labrador International Entrepreneur Category
International Graduate Entrepreneur Category
Northwest Territories Business Stream
Nova Scotia Entrepreneur Stream
International Graduate Entrepreneur Stream
Ontario Entrepreneur Stream
Quebec Entrepreneur Program
Investor Program
Self-Employed Worker Program
Prince Edward Island Business Start-Up and Entrepreneurship Stream
Saskatchewan Entrepreneur Category
Yukon Business Nominee Program

Are There Any Famous Immigrant Entrepreneurs in Canada?

Yes, Canada has been home to several famous immigrant entrepreneurs who have made significant contributions to the country's business landscape. Here are a few examples:

Mike Lazaridis

The co-founder of Research In Motion (now known as BlackBerry), Lazaridis is a Greek-Canadian entrepreneur who revolutionized the mobile communications industry with the invention of the BlackBerry smartphone.

Shahrzad Rafati

Originally from Iran, Rafati is the founder and CEO of BroadbandTV, a leading digital entertainment company in Canada. She has been recognized for her entrepreneurial achievements and contributions to the media and technology sectors.

Vikram Vij

Vij is a renowned Indian-born chef and restaurateur who has played a pivotal role in popularizing Indian cuisine in Canada. He owns Vij's Restaurant and has appeared on various cooking shows, showcasing his culinary skills.

Tobias Lütke

Lütke is a German-born entrepreneur, co-founder, and CEO of Shopify, a leading e-commerce platform. Under his leadership, Shopify has grown into a global powerhouse, empowering businesses worldwide to advertise and sell their products and services online.

Karim Hakimi

Hakimi is an Iranian-born entrepreneur and the founder of Hakim Optical, one of Canada's largest optical retail chains. He has been recognized for his business acumen and commitment to providing affordable eyewear to Canadians.

These immigrant entrepreneurs are inspiring examples of the opportunities and success that await prospective immigrant entrepreneurs in Canada.

What Canada Offers Immigrant Entrepreneurs

Canada offers a list of benefits for prospective immigrant entrepreneurs to Canada that assists them in their journeys towards success. They include:

Canada's Favorable Business Environment

One of the key factors that make Canada an attractive destination for business immigrants is its favorable business environment. Institutional features that contribute to Canada’s favorable business environment include:

  • Strong rule of law
  • Political stability
  • Transparent regulatory system
  • Federal and provincial chambers of commerce

Consumer Market With a Large Disposable Income

With a population of nearly 40 million people, Canada offers a sizable consumer market with a high disposable income. According to the World Bank, Canada’s gross domestic product (GDP) per capita is 74 517,53 CAD, which places it in the world's top 20 per capita income countries.

Immigrant entrepreneurs in Canada can tap into this market by offering innovative products and services that cater to Canadian consumers' diverse needs and preferences. Canada's strong purchasing power per capita of 79 198,48 CAD and stable economy make it an ideal location for businesses looking to expand their customer base.

Access to Extensive Canadian Financial Markets

Canada is home to a robust financial sector with a wide range of financial institutions and markets. Leading financial and commercial cities in Canada include the famous trifecta of Toronto, Ontario; Montreal, Quebec; and Vancouver, British Columbia. Immigrant entrepreneurs have access to

  • Well-regulated banking systems
  • Venture capital funds
  • Angel investor networks
  • World-leading stock markets e.g., Toronto Stock Exchange, TSX Venture Exchange, Montreal Exchange, Vancouver Stock Exchange

Canada's financial markets are known for their stability and resilience, making them an attractive destination for both domestic and international investors.

Abundance of Canada's Natural Resources

Canada is blessed with abundant natural resources, including

  • Crude oil
  • Natural gas
  • Minerals
  • Timber

This rich resource base presents numerous opportunities for businesses in sectors such as energy, mining, agriculture, and forestry, all of which are primary and secondary industries vital to the economic development of any country.

Immigrant entrepreneurs to Canada who have experience or expertise in these industries can leverage Canada's natural resources to their advantage and create successful business ventures.

Canadian Business Incentives

Canada offers a range of business incentives to attract and support immigrant entrepreneurs. These incentives vary by province and territory but often include:

  • Tax credits
  • Government financing programs
  • Grants
  • Business development loans and Capital investments
  • Wage Subsidies

Immigrant entrepreneurs can take advantage of these incentives to reduce their business costs, access funding, and benefit from government support.

Now that you have a fair grasp of what you need to know about business immigration to Canada, you may proceed with your journey towards becoming a permanent resident member of Canadian society and seize its business opportunities.


Can I buy Canadian Citizenship Through Business Immigration?

No, it is not possible to buy Canadian citizenship through business immigration. The IRCC does not offer any direct Canadian Citizenship by Investment business immigration program.

While successful applicants may be eligible for permanent residency, citizenship can only be obtained after a period of permanent residency first before being eligible to apply.

How can I get Help With my Business Immigration Application?

You can get help with your business immigration application by consulting with a Canadian immigration lawyer or a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC). They can provide you with legal advice, help you prepare your application, and represent you in front of Canada’s official immigration authorities.