Immigrating and Investing in Canada

The Canadian Government seeks to attract experienced business people to Canada who will support the development of a strong and prosperous Canadian economy.

There are different ways to immigrate to Canada as an investor. The most popular one is the Provincial Nominee Program – Business Stream. Here, the applicant needs to demonstrate their intentions to establish in certain province and they will need to present a business plan for approval. If the business plan is accepted and the applicant receives nomination by the Province, they can apply for a work permit and will have the right to apply for permanent residence.

Another popular way to immigrate to Canada as an investor is by using the Free Trade Agreements Canada has with different countries around the world. The General Agreement on Trades in Services (“GATS”) can be considered as one of these options as well.

When there is no Free Trade Agreement between the applicant’s country of origin and Canada; and the applicant’s country of origin is not signatory of GATS either; another option will be to create a business in Canada under Rule 205 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations. This regulation talks about significant Canadian interests where the Canadian economy will have a benefit from a possible investment such as creation of new jobs for local people, etc.

There are federal programs as well.  The federal program used to have three streams:

1)     The Immigrant Investor Program

2)     The Federal Entrepreneur Program

3)     Self-Employed Persons

Currently, the first two streams are under a temporary pause that will continue until further notice.  The self-employed persons stream is open, however the processing times are long, this has discouraged many potential immigrants to apply under this category.

Good news is that a new stream has been announced in April 2013. This new program will ensure that immigrants are investing actively in the Canadian economy.

The Start-Up Visa Program will link immigrant entrepreneurs with experienced private sector organizations that have expertise in working with start-ups.

The pilot will run for up to five years. If the Program proves successful during the five-year trial period, CIC may formally introduce it as a new economic class in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations.

Foreign entrepreneurs will require the support of a Canadian angel investor group, venture capital fund or a business incubator before they can apply to the Start-Up Visa Program.  Foreign entrepreneurs will also have to meet certain criteria regarding language proficiency and educational qualifications. The full set of criteria will be published soon.

By: Maria Campos Prior, LLB, LLM

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