Although Canada shuttered its federal investment immigration program in 2014 and recently paused applications for its subsequent Immigrant Investor Venture Capital Pilot Program, the country still maintains a variety of investment and entrepreneur immigration options across its provinces. The Provincial Nomination Programs allow individuals to be nominated by a province based on investment and business activity in that particular territory. Following that nomination, qualified applicants can apply for permanent residency granted by the Canadian government.
Currently, investment or entrepreneur immigration programs are available in British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Northwest Territories, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Saskatchewan and Yukon. Each province has instituted various net worth, investment and business requirements and interested applicants are encouraged to consult provincial webpages. Each province has its own selection criteria in order to best fulfill the immediate and long-term needs of their respective region.
Unlike other international investment programs, most Canadian programs require extensive prior business experience and expect a high level of day-to-day business involvement on the part of the immigrant entrepreneur. All provincial nomination programs in the business or investment categories lead to permanent residency for the primary applicant, spouse and dependent children.
For years Canada ran a popular investment immigration program on the federal level that was based on the provision of guaranteed loans by investor applicants. The program was shut down in 2014 after a years-long backlog in application processing and amid uncertainty of the program’s economic benefit to the country. Following the very high-profile closure, Canada launched the Immigrant Investor Venture Capital Pilot Program with the hopes of steering investors toward at risk investments that would provide a greater benefit to the country. The government is still testing interest in the program and application windows open up periodically, the most recent of which ran from May 25-December 30, 2015. Provincial business and investment immigration programs are a viable alternative to federal programs for many interested investors.
Eligibility and application process
The path to permanent residency is different for each province, but generally, the process will involve the applicant expressing interest, submitting an application for nomination by the province and eventually applying for permanent residency granted by the central Canadian government. Eligibility requirements, including net worth, business experience, language skills and residency requirements vary among programs, along with fees and processing times. No matter the path, once permanent residency is granted, immigrants through any of these programs will be able to enjoy all the rights of Canadian citizens, with the exception of voting and passport rights. Permanent residents can apply for citizenship after three years.
Because there are many provincial programs in Canada, this page will highlight the selection process of just a few provinces.
In order to immigrate to Quebec as an investor, interested parties must first be nominated by the Government of Quebec before being admitted as a permanent resident by the Government of Canada. In order to obtain a nomination, qualifying applicants must submit an Application for a Selection Certificate. If an applicant passes the selection process, he or she can then apply for permanent residence in order to be admitted to Canada.
Quebec limits their acceptance of applications by number and time period. The most recent selection window ran from August 31, 2015 to January 29, 2016, during which the province accepted up to 1,750 applications for selection. Investors that can demonstrate advanced French language skills can submit their application anytime before March 31, 2016. Interested investors are encouraged to check the Government of Quebec’s website regularly for updated selection windows.
To be eligible for the program, investors must have a total net worth of at least $1.6 million CAN, have management experience and be in agreement to invest $800,000 CAN through an authorized financial intermediary. The investment is guaranteed for a five-year term by the Government of Quebec, and investors will receive their initial capital back at the end of the investment period. If these requirements are met, investors can apply for a selection certificate, at which point they will be evaluated on the basis of their investment and other criteria, including age, professional background and language skills.
Investors must submit their selection applications to the Government of Quebec, along with all required documentation, including, but not limited to:
- Narrative document describing the applicant’s assets and their history
- Investment agreement
- Passports and biographical information
- Proof of education
- Bank statements and relevant financial documents
- Proof of management experience
Documents not originally in French or English must be accompanied by certified translation. The current fee for processing investor applicants is $15,000 CAN, with no additional fees for qualifying spouse and minor child applicants.
Applicants will then be invited to a selection interview and will receive information as to the next steps in their immigration process immediately thereafter. If a favorable decision is reached, applicants will be mailed their Selection Certificate and will be able to apply for admission and permanent residency through the Government of Canada.
Quebec also has an entrepreneur program that has lessened capital investment requirements, but more stringent requirements for business experience and involvement. The entrepreneur stream may be more appropriate for those wishing to establish and run a business in Quebec.
The Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program (MPNP) allows the province of Manitoba to nominate qualified business investors to be admitted to Canada as permanent residents. The purpose of the program is to attract investors that intend to live in the province, and facilitate their immigration process so that they can invest and run businesses in Manitoba. In order to qualify to be nominated under this program, applicants must have a net worth of at least $350,000 CAN, have three years of business ownership and senior-level management experience and score at least 60 points on the Adaptability Assessment Matrix. Additionally, applicants must be prepared to make an eligible business investment of at least $150,000 CAN in the province.
In order to be considered for the program, interested parties must first submit an expression of interest (EOI) through the MPNP online system. The EOI will help establish the applicant’s eligibility for the program and does not require a fee or supporting documentation. If the applicant’s profile is acceptable, Manitoba will issue a Letter of Advice to Apply, which will allow investors to submit an application for a nomination. Information provided in the nomination application must match the information provided in the investor’s EOI.
The nomination application is more rigorous than the EOI and requires extensive proof of business intent (including business plans), assets and experience. The application is submitted with a $2,500 CAN processing fee.
Once approved, nominated applicants must sign a deposit agreement and make a deposit of $100,000 CAN, refundable upon fulfillment of the agreement. Nominated applicants will then apply for a permanent residency visa through the Government of Canada and, if approved, immigrate to Manitoba. Investors have two years from their arrival in Manitoba to make the business investment outlined in their application and deposit agreement. If immigrants under this program do not fulfill the business requirements of the visa, the Government of Manitoba reserves the right to keep their initial deposit.
Exploratory visits to the province are optional but recommended. These visits can help applicants determine inputs to their business model and will boost point scores on the adaptability matrix.
British Columbia’s Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) welcomes individuals to apply for immigration to the province through the BCPNP Entrepreneur Immigration Stream. This stream can lead to permanent residency for individuals with significant business experience who invest in and operate a business of significant economic interest to the province. Like other provincial programs, applicants are assessed on the basis of net worth, business plans, professional experience and adaptability.
To qualify for the program, individuals must have a net worth of at least $600,000, business and/or management experience and the intent to establish a business in British Columbia. If selected for the program, participants must be prepared to invest at least $200,000 in their business and create at least one new full-time job.
In order to apply, interested parties must first register online, and qualified registrants will be admitted to a selection pool. From that selection pool, the BCPNP invites the most qualified individuals to apply for nomination. In the application, entrepreneurs will need to document their net worth, a business plan, their business experience and various adaptability factors, including language skills, education, age and experience in Canada. English language skills are not necessary, but can increase the points value assigned to the applicant.
If the application is approved, participants will sign a Performance Agreement and receive a work permit that allows them 20 months to successfully implement their business plan in British Columbia. After that time period, and provided the conditions of the Performance Agreement were met, applicants will be nominated for immigration to Canada. In addition to the investment and business requirements, applicants must also reside within 100 kilometers of their qualifying business and be physically present in the province for at least 75 percent of the time.
After receiving nomination, applicants must apply for a permanent residency visa with the Canadian government.
British Columbia currently accepts 200 registrants per month, and 17 were invited to apply between November 9, 2015 and December 21, 2015. Meeting the minimum program requirements is not a guarantee for nomination, as only the highest scoring registrants are invited to apply.
Ontario recently closed the investor component of its immigrant nominee program in order to reassess the needs of their province, but qualified individuals may be interested in their entrepreneur stream. The entrepreneur stream requires a minimum investment of $500,000 CAN in a business that will bring significant economic benefit, the creation of two full-time jobs and minimum language skills. After submitting an EOI, qualified applicants will receive a temporary work permit that will allow them to establish as business in Canada that they can then use as the basis of their application to be nominated for permanent immigration to the province.
Though each province is responsible for evaluating and nominating applicants to be admitted to their territory, the central government of Canada makes the final determination of admission. In order to be admitted to the country, nominated applicants must apply for permanent residence through the Central Intake Office in Canada. The Government of Canada will evaluate applicants’ medical histories and perform security checks. Fees for this process are $1050 CAN for each principal applicant in Quebec’s investor class, or $550 for each principal applicant in other provincial programs.
Once admitted, permanent residents enjoy all the same privileges as Canadian citizens, with the exception of voting and passport rights. Permanent residents can apply for Canadian citizenship after three years.
Because the provincial programs are varied in scope and requirements, prospective applicants are encouraged to conduct extensive research and work closely with professionals experienced in the program to which they wish to apply.
 Unless otherwise noted, all program eligibility, requirement and application information taken from the Government of Quebec’s informational pages on business immigration "Businesspeople." Government of Quebec. Accessed January 26, 2016. http://www.immigration-quebec.gouv.qc.ca/en/immigrate-settle/businesspeople/index.html.
 Unless otherwise noted, all program eligibility, requirement and application information taken from the Government of Manitoba’s informational pages on business immigration "Business Immigration." Government of Manitoba. Accessed January 26, 2016. http://www.gov.mb.ca/jec/invest/pnp-b/index.html.
 Unless otherwise noted, all program eligibility, requirement and application information taken from the Government of British Columbia’s informational pages on entrepreneur immigration "Entrepreneur Immigration." Welcome BC. Accessed January 26, 2016. http://www.welcomebc.ca/Immigrate/About-the-BC-PNP/Entrepreneur-Immigration.aspx.
 "Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program: Entrepreneur." Ontario Immigration. Accessed January 26, 2016. http://www.ontarioimmigration.ca/en/pnp/OI_PNPENTREPRENEUR.html.
 “Applying to the Government of Canada for Permanent Residence.” Government of Quebec. Accessed January 26, 2015. http://www.immigration-quebec.gouv.qc.ca/en/immigrate-settle/businesspeople/applying-business-immigrant/permanent-residence.html
 “Fee List.” Government of Canada. Accessed January 26, 2016. http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/information/fees/fees.asp#visas_permits