Over the past few weeks I have written about the various business pathways in Canada including Quebec’s business categories and the opportunities to obtain a work permit to operate one’s own business in Canada. In addition to these methods, most provinces across Canada also have specific programs to attract entrepreneurs.
Canada is facing a critical challenge. Due to its aging population it is projected that 75% of all small business owners will retire in the next 5-10 years. Add to this the fact that many provinces across Canada are facing negative population growth and it becomes clear why these provinces are taking important steps to attract and retain new immigrants, particularly those who will set up or buy existing businesses in the province.
This presents a unique opportunity for those who are interested in immigrating to Canada and would like to engage in a business activity that will lead to permanent residence. Each province has different programs based on their local needs, however, most of the provincial nominee programs for entrepreneurs incorporate the following three steps:
1- Eligibility Requirements:
If you meet the minimum eligibility requirements and score required for each province, you will be able to submit an initial application to be considered by the province. Your score will be assessed on factors such as age, education, work experience, management experience, business ownership experience, net assets and any connections you have to the province. However, even if you meet the minimum score, provinces will choose the highest overall scores from among all applications that they receive.
2- Settlement in the Province:
Once you are selected to proceed with your provincial application based on your high score, the province will support your application for a work permit to come to Canada in order to buy or set up your business in the province. The minimum investment that you must make will vary depending on your destination. Currently the lowest amount of investment required in your active business is at least $150,000. When you have settled in the province, made your active investment, and managed it as an active business for at least one year, the province can nominate you to receive permanent residence.
3- Application for Permanent Residence:
After having completed step 2 and making your active business investment in the province, you can finally submit your application to receive permanent residence in Canada. As with all other applications for permanent residence you will have to undergo medical and security checks. Once your application is approved, you and your eligible family members will obtain permanent residence in Canada.
The provinces’ goal in setting up their programs is to attract and retain immigrants. Therefore, it is important to note that a province may withdraw its support for your permanent residence application if it finds out that you do not intend to reside in the province after you obtain your PR.
The best advice I have for applicants who are interested in applying to a provincial nominee program is that they should do a lot of research before they finalize their decision. While I may be able to explain the differences between the various programs, ultimately you and your family will have to live and work in your chosen province. In order to help make your decision you should try to make an exploratory trip to the province as well as search business and living conditions online. The time you spend researching and developing your plans will not only help you to make the best decision, but will also increase your prospects of success in reaching your goal of setting up a business and new life in Canada.
Zeynab Ziaie is a graduate of the Faculty of Law at the University of Toronto and a lawyer licensed to practice in Ontario and New York. Her legal practice focuses on immigration and business law. She often works with clients to find suitable solutions in complex immigration and citizenship cases and represents clients at all levels of court.