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Understanding the Canadian Business Immigration Program: A Comprehensive Guide

Blog posted on by Evelyn Ackah

Understanding the Canadian Business Immigration Program: A Comprehensive Guide

Canada’s immigration policy has transformed drastically within the space of just a few years, and it is now much easier for a range of people to settle in the True North. One of the many avenues available to immigrants is the Business Immigration Program. As the name implies, this program is targeted towards entrepreneurs and business owners who want to invest in Canada while creating jobs and new opportunities. Unfortunately, it’s not quite as simple as moving to Canada and starting a business. In order to take advantage of this program, it is important to gain a full understanding of how it works. While this article offers a comprehensive guide, a consultation with a Canada business immigration lawyer can provide further advice based on your unique circumstances.

Options for Immigrants Who Wish to Invest or Start Businesses in Canada

Canada offers numerous incentives and programs to immigrants who wish to start businesses or invest in this nation. Here are a few examples:


  • Self-Employed Persons Program

  • Business Immigration Program

  • Quebec Immigrant Investor Program

  • Quebec Entrepreneur Program

  • Quebec Self-Employed Program

  • Provincial Nominee Entrepreneur Program

  • Federal Start-Up Visa Program


All of these various programs have their own unique set of requirements and advantages. Some involve investments, others involve self-employment activities, and some involve job creation. However, all allow entrepreneurs and investors to gain permanent residency status in a streamlined manner. This article will focus primarily on the Business Immigration Program.

What Is the Business Immigration Program in Canada?

One aspect of the Business Immigration Program involves start-up businesses. Canada defines a startup business as a “new business intended to be operated in Canada.” In other words, this specific program only applies to people who wish to start a business in Canada – not those who already have businesses that will be relocated to Canada.

In order to qualify, the start-up business must meet one of the following investment requirements:

  • It must have at least $75,000 in investment from a designated angel investor group

  • It must have at least $200,000 in investment from a designated venture capital fund

  • It must have investment from a designated business incubator

In order to qualify, the qualifying business must also meet the following requirements:

  • It must be incorporated within Canada.

  • Each applicant under the Business Immigration Program must hold at least 10% of the voting rights attached to the business shares

  • All applicants must hold a total of more than 50% of the voting rights attached to the business shares


Note that this does not necessarily mean that your startup must be incorporated before you apply for the Business Immigration Program. Canada may consider applicants who want to create businesses on the condition that they receive permanent residence. In other words, you can apply for this program if you promise that you will start the business after receiving your permanent residency.

Note that this specific program does not apply to people who wish to start businesses in Quebec. The French-Canadian province has its own system and rules when it comes to business immigration. Although these programs are comparable to Canada’s federal programs, they require a different approach and involve additional requirements.

Entrepreneurs Still Have to Meet Many of the Same Requirements as Other Applicants

It is worth noting that while the Business Immigration Program in Canada may streamline the process of obtaining permanent residency, it does not necessarily allow you to completely sidestep certain requirements. Perhaps the most notable requirement is that you meet Canada’s language requirements.

Canada is a bilingual country that recognizes both French and English as its official languages. Therefore, you can pass the language requirements by demonstrating proficiency in English, French, or both. You do not need to be bilingual to enter Canada (although it certainly helps if you’re planning to start a business in a heavily bilingual province).

In order to test your language proficiency, Canada will subject you to a number of assessments. These assessments examine your proficiency in a number of key areas:

  • Listening

  • Speaking

  • Reading

  • Writing

Finally, you need to show that you have enough money to realistically settle in Canada. Note that this is separate from the operating expenses necessary for your corporation. Personal expenses include rental fees, down payments, mortgage payments, and so on. You also need to budget for food and transport. Keep in mind that Canada has a very high cost of living, especially within major cities. This higher cost of living may come as something of a shock for many foreign nationals.

Another requirement is the provision of certain police certificates and documents. Canada requires these documents to establish that you are not a criminal with a questionable history in your home country. Work with a Canadian Immigration Lawyer to determine exactly what kind of police documents you need. Note that if your documents are in a language other than French or English, you will need to have them translated before providing them to the Canadian authorities.

Provincial Business Immigration Programs

Canada is made up of many provinces that each have their own unique opportunities and incentives. Some provinces are in dire need of specific businesses, and they may offer especially attractive immigration programs for foreign nationals willing to fill these gaps. Here are a few examples:

  • The Regional Pilot Program in British Columbia

  • The Farm Investor Program in Manitoba

  • The Corporate Program in Ontario

  • The Entrepreneur Farm Program in Saskatchewan

To learn more about these Provincial Nominee Programs, be sure to consult with a qualified business immigration lawyer.

Book Your Consultation with Ackah Business Immigration Law Today

If you have been searching for a Canadian business immigration lawyer who can help you explore opportunities in Canada, look no further than Ackah Law. Over the years, we have helped a range of immigrants engage in productive business ventures while enjoying immigration benefits in Canada. Our offices are conveniently located in major cities such as Calgary, Toronto, and Vancouver. If you are not yet in Canada, we can provide guidance over the phone or by video call. Reach out today to explore your options and take advantage of Canada’s Business Immigration Program today.


Evelyn L. Ackah, BA, LL.B.

Founder/Managing Lawyer

Ms. Ackah is passionate about immigration law because it focuses on people and relationships, which are at the core of her personal values. Starting her legal career as a corporate/commercial ...

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