The Canada Entrepreneur Program was a very popular program for the immigration of entrepreneurs and those alike. The program has been discontinued for now, although it is possible it will reopen in the future. The program allowed all who would like to open a business in Canada or acquire a third of an existing Canadian business to immigrate to Canada.

The program existed on two levels: the federal level (also known as the Federal Entrepreneur Program) and in Quebec (the Quebec Entrepreneur Program). The former was established for all who wanted to move to any province in Canada The latter was for French-speaking entrepreneurs and those who had Quebec as their ideal place to immigrate to. The two entrepreneur streams were very popular, so the exact reasons why the program was discontinued are unknown. 

What Is the Entrepreneur Program in Canada?

So, the Canada Entrepreneur program was supposed to attract all entrepreneurs who wanted to move to Canada and had some business experience. The ideal immigrant entrepreneur needs to have experience in running or establishing a business. They also need to be able to pass all other eligibility criteria. The Canadian visa under this program was issued to all prospective businesses that could improve the Canadian economy. The business plan had to be reviewed to make sure that a high approval rate does not compromise the program itself or the Canadian economy.

In this program, the business owner or the person investing would be considered the principal applicant. The foreign entrepreneurs who wanted to take their families with them could simply include them in the application process. They could all get Canadian permanent residency. In the case of those foreign investors who wanted to purchase a portion of a Canadian business, they had to acquire at least a third (33.33%) of an existing Canadian business. The changes to the business that they would create would have to open at least one new job position that would provide a means of income to an existing Canadian permanent resident or a citizen.

Eligibility for Entrepreneur Immigration

Of course, not every business is acceptable to the program. There are eligibility criteria to ensure that only experienced entrepreneurs can get the visa. The person applying through one of the pathways for entrepreneurs would have to have a net worth of at least CAD300,000 (Canadian dollars). They would also need to have business experience and a wish to start a business in Canada.

The entrepreneur immigration program does not specify how the net worth is established (what assets are used in estimating one’s net worth). Both cash and property can be used to give access to entrepreneurs’ programs to immigrate to Canada. One of the conditions of the program is that the entrepreneur applicant has to start a business upon moving to Canada. They would have to provide a work position for at least one Canadian permanent resident or citizen. That worker had to be employed on a full-time basis.

Entrepreneur Visa Canada Requirements

Entrepreneur visa Canada requirements further state that the business that the principal applicant has been employed in has to satisfy at least two of the four requirements. At the same time, consider that this is a business that the person is employed in or working on BEFORE the application for the program itself. When it comes to the four prerequisites, they are as follows:

  • the business needs to employ at least two people on a full-time basis
  • The business net income has to be at least CAD50,000
  • The business has assets with a total value of at least CAD125,000
  • the business’s total sales are at least CAD500,000

When it comes to the prerequisites, they have to be seen on an annual basis. The above figures apply only to 100% ownership, to the principal applicant. If there are more owners, the figures are adjusted upwards, so that the same numbers apply per owner. For example, if there are two owners, with 50-50 stakes in the business, the numbers are doubled. When it comes to partial, but not equal ownership (for example 30-70, where the principal applicant holds the minor part of the business), the numbers in the prerequisites are matched in such a way that the percentage of the business makes the numbers from the prerequisites.

How to Immigrate to Canada as An Entrepreneur?

If you would like to immigrate to Canada as an entrepreneur and get your permanent residence, you will need to be willing to make an active investment. You should also be able to make a minimum investment decided upon by the Canadian government for all entrepreneurs except those wanting to move to Quebec. If this is the case with you, you can check out the Quebec Entrepreneur program.

The immigrant investor program is different from the self-employed visa, as freelancers can use the latter, while the entrepreneur program has to end in providing a work position for at least one Canadian. As with any other program, the entrepreneur program itself has many sub-streams and eligibility requirements that have to be satisfied for your application to be considered.

The dedicated entrepreneur program that would be the best for you depends on where you would like to move, what work you would like to do, and whether you would be starting your own business or purchasing a portion of the existing business. All in all, the basic steps are as follows:

  • choose your desired stream – international entrepreneurs may find it difficult to choose the right program. So you may want to consider checking out the existing options and choosing the best among those. You can also hire an immigration expert and schedule a consultation with them
  • the business plan – the business plan that you will be using to apply for the entrepreneur visa process is the next logical step. Make sure that you make a valid business plan that projects business growth. This part will be evaluated as an integral part of your application. You will need to make a REALISTIC plan, as this is not a competition in who can have a more optimistic overview of the Canadian market
  • Expression of Interest (EOI) submitting – you will need to submit an expression of interest, especially if you are applying for one of the entrepreneur PNPs. These programs are many, and they reflect the realistic demands of the market in each of the provinces. When it comes to the PNP programs, we will consider them later, in more detail
  • wait to receive the ITA – Invitation to Apply – once you have received the ITA, you will need to submit all the documents that are named in the document checklist. These documents will have to prove everything you have said during the initial part of the application itself. You will need to make sure that you get to send in/submit all the documents at once – the processing time can only be slowed down by you submitting an incomplete application. These documents relate to your language skills, medical and criminal admissibility, and everything else that would make you a qualified entrepreneur
  • when applying for one of the PNP programs, you will need to consider that you will receive a PNP nomination. You can then use this to apply for the PR. In this case, your first application is with the provincial government, for the PNP status, and the second one is with the federal government, for the PR status (permanent residence)

What Is a Federal Startup Visa?

The Federal Startup Visa is a type of visa intended for all who have the funding and expertise to establish and grow their businesses. This entrepreneur-based category is intended for all who would like to take their skills and expertise into Canada. It is also for all who would like to help grow the Canadian economy by doing this exact thing – establishing and growing a business there.

The entrepreneur-friendly visa is available on the federal level, and here, the applicants are not required to invest any of their funds into the business to help it grow. Quite on the contrary, the company or business can have a very low initial investment, and they can even receive the funding to do so. When it comes to establishing a business, the funds received must come from an approved Canadian private sector organization, and not a shady individual or just about any company. When it comes to this rule, it is important to note that Canada actively fights against money laundering. This is a prerequisite that has to be followed through.

Check Out How to Move to Canada on a Startup Visa Program:

What Is the Quebec Entrepreneur Program?

The Quebec Entrepreneur Program is a program that is very similar to its Federal counterpart. However, unlike the federal program, it is intended only for those who would like to move to Quebec and start a business there. When it comes to the program, one of the prerequisites is also knowing the French language at least to the intermediate level. The program itself is not so popular, especially considering the popularity of the federal program. There are simply not as many people speaking French wanting to move to Quebec, as people are speaking English and wanting to move to Canada in general.

The program itself is not to be confused with the PNP Entrepreneur programs, as there is a key difference: the program is not a PNP program at all. This is a standalone program, which is seeking to attract talented individuals into the province of Quebec. When it comes to the business nature itself, you can either create or purchase a business in the province.

The program has two streams. The first stream is intended for all business investment applications which are backed by a service offer. The offer can be made by a business accelerator, business incubator, or a University entrepreneurship center. The second stream is more of an entrepreneur stream, where you are expected to use your knowledge, expertise, experience, and funds to create the business in question. For the second stream, you will also need to:

  • secure a deposit of CAD200,000 (the security deposit) that you will use as insurance money. This money is given back to you when the business plan is carried out successfully
  • secure a startup deposit (CAD200,000; CAD300,000 for Montreal)

You will also need to have a net worth of a minimum of CAD900,000 that you have obtained by yourself or with your spouse. When it comes to the application itself, it has to be presented in the form of a business plan. You will need to control at least 25% of the business, once it is up and running. If you are purchasing a business, you will need to secure at least 51% ownership to be eligible for the program itself. The business cannot be involved in any sexual work, or sexually explicit work, payday loans, pawnbroking, real estate development, brokerage, etc. for reasons of high risk and the possibility of the business failing.

Finding More About Provincial Nominee Programs for Entrepreneurs

As we’ve established so far, provinces in Canada have a high degree of autonomy, and they have their own PNP programs. These programs are not limited to standalone or base PNP programs and those that can be accessed through Express Entry. Quite on the contrary, the programs that can be found under the PNP label also include entrepreneur programs.

All of these programs aim to bring more entrepreneurs into different provinces and improve their economies. Consulting business experts may be the best thing here, as you should first understand how your business would behave in different provinces in Canada. Changes to the books about business, the taxation rate, and all other aspects of business can make or break one. Knowing what province is the best for you will mean that you can have a successful business within a year or two.

Here are some of the provincial business streams:

  • British Columbia – Entrepreneur Immigration Program, Entrepreneur Immigration – Regional Pilot Program, and Entrepreneur Immigration – Strategic Projects. For all of these streams, you will need to have a net worth of at least CAD600,000, have CAD200,000 lying around, and move into an area of less than 75,000 people
  • Alberta – the Farm Stream, Alberta Foreign Graduate Entrepreneur Stream, Alberta Graduate Entrepreneur Stream, and the Alberta Rural Entrepreneur Stream
  • Saskatchewan – the Entrepreneur Stream and the International Graduate Entrepreneur Stream. You need to have a net worth of CAD500,000 and have CAD200,000 to invest (or CAD300,000 to invest in Regina or Saskatoon
  • Manitoba – Entrepreneur Pathway and the Farm Investor Pathway
  • Nova Scotia – the Nova Scotia Entrepreneur stream – you need to be at least 21 years of age, have a net worth of CAD600,000, and be willing to invest CAD150,000 to purchase or create a business in Nova Scotia
  • Ontario – the Ontario Entrepreneur Stream – for all who have a minimum net worth of CAD800,000 and up to CAD400,000 for investment outside of the Greater Toronto Area or a minimum of CAD400,000 for investments in the Greater Toronto Area
  • New Brunswick – the New Brunswick Entrepreneurial Stream and the New Brunswick Post-Graduate Entrepreneurial Stream – the applicants need to have at least CAD600,000 of net worth and CAD250,000-CAD300,000 to invest in. The applicants, if they are purchasing a business, need to acquire at least a third of it
  • Prince Edward Island – the Prince Edward Island Impact Category
  • North West Territories – the North West Territories Business Stream is for those who have a minimum of CAD300,000 to purchase an existing business (or start one and invest in) in Yellowknife or have a minimum of CAD150,000 to invest (or purchase) outside of Yellowknife and a personal net worth of CAD500,000 and CAD250,000 respectively
  • Yukon – the Yukon Business Nominee Program is for those who have a net worth of CAD500,000 and CAD300,000 to invest in the business in the first two years of its operation

Entrepreneur Program vs Investor Program

As you can see above, there are two basic kinds of programs that the provinces offer. A qualifying business for this type of program can be purchased or established. People with business experience or entrepreneurship experience can apply for the program through these two different basic kinds or categories of programs:

The entrepreneur program is for foreign business owners who would like to open up or start a business in Canada. They should, but do not have to be, at least not under every program offered to the sole owner when the business is being established. This is the riskiest of the permanent residency pathways that the provinces and the federal government offer. If you are thinking about the lowest investment options, you can see above that the lowest investment requirement is the same for both streams.

The second stream or the second kind of business immigration is for those who would like to purchase an existing, active business in Canada. The business has to be:

  • an operational business
  • a profitable business
  • a qualifying business

When it comes to managerial experience, it is welcome, but you are not expected to run the place all by yourself. In the second category of the business visa approvals (to those that purchase, rather than start their own business), you have a lower risk that comes with the purchase. This is because the business is already running. You will still need to invest the same amount of money and will be able to apply for a permanent resident visa only after your business model proves to be successful. When it comes to the viability of the business plans, you will need to prove that it is viable, and this will be tested and controlled. Check out each of the programs above, as additional criteria may apply.

Permanent residence applications are acceptable with some programs only after some time has passed. However, there are some issues from the start, with your primary application for immigration to Canada. These programs are also available to the elderly who would like to move to Canada. As there are no special immigration programs for those who are retired, some retired couples decide to invest their savings into a business in Canada. This way, they secure their entry into their preferred country. 


Is Doing Business in Canada Easy?

Canada has a well-developed market that has a variety of needs for products and services that keep growing and changing as we speak. This makes running a business relatively easy. I should not be taken lightly, as differences between the corporate taxation system in your country and Canada can be difficult to adjust to. Not knowing the market can easily make you part with your money, so you will need to make sure you do your research and see how successful your business model would be in Canada.

Can I Get PR if I Buy Property in Canada?

No, you cannot get a PR if you buy property in Canada. Getting the PR has some prerequisites that you will need to fulfill to be considered for your PR (Permanent Residence) application. However, it is possible to purchase a property where you will be developing your business. This way, you can apply for Canada Entrepreneur or Canada Investor programs at the same time.

How to Immigrate to Canada as An Entrepreneur?

To immigrate to Canada as an entrepreneur, you will need to make your application to a corresponding program. You will need to have a good business model, have enough funds to start the business, and you will need to go through different approval stages. You will also need to have business management experience in a quality business and be willing to conduct your business in Canada 100% legally. Never forget that a permanent residence request can be declined for any kind of issue and not running a business legally is one of those.

Is There a Cost for The Ontario Entrepreneur Program?

As with most other programs, the Ontario Entrepreneur program also charges an applicant fee of – CAD3,500 per applicant. When it comes to this program, you will also need considerable financial funds, CAD400,000 for investments in the Greater Toronto Area and up to CAD400,000 for investments outside of the area.

Final Thoughts

Entrepreneur programs are very popular programs in Canada. They are available to all who have led a qualifying business in Canada or another country. As long as you have sufficient investment funds and time to dedicate to growing a business in Canada, this will be your greatest option for business investment in Canada and possibly. This is also a great chance for you and your family members to get the Canadian PR.