What Do Business Owners Need to Know About Operating in Canada?

What Do Business Owners Need to Know About Operating in Canada?

Access to government grants and tax credits, a low cost of living, entrepreneurial and technical talent galore, plus an abundance of seed capital and favorable exchange rate – there are numerous reasons why running a business in Canada is an excellent idea.

Yet, we have to debunk the widely held belief of foreigners qualifying automatically for permanent residency the moment they start a business or buy one in Canada. Non-Canadian business owners and investors taking advantage of immigration programs need proof that they are involved in its day-to-day operations.

Also, there are various application types, so let’s get into the nitty-gritty of the matter.

Tips for business oweners in Canada


Things That Foreign Business Owners Need to Consider

As an entrepreneur or investor from outside Canada, you must first get a work permit. After running your company for at least 1 year, you can claim ‘job offer’ points on your Express Entry profile. Afterward, you will be entitled to request permanent residency in Canada through one of the Express Entry programs.

The Most Common Application Types

Canada offers different kinds of applications. The ones that entrepreneurs frequently use are:

  • C11 Significant Benefits

  • CUSMA Investor / Trader

  • Intra-Company Transfer (ICT)

  • Provincial Entrepreneur Programs (PNP) (they are available in British Colombia, Ontario, and Manitoba)

  • Start-Up Visa

  • Self-Employed Person’s Program

C11 Significant Benefits

Businesspeople can apply for a permit to work for themselves or run their company in Canada under the C11 Significant Benefits Pathway. If you choose this application type, you must demonstrate that gaining entrance to Canada would help the country significantly (either economically, culturally, or socially). It makes sense to show that your entry would generate valuable job opportunities for Canadian citizens and permanent residents.

Majority ownership (at least 51 percent) of the company is required for this kind of application. When the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) department pores over your application, it will check whether it can tick off these points:

  • Does the applicant have a winning business plan that demonstrates that they have taken concrete measures to start their company?

  • Does the applicant have the experience and skills pertinent to running the company? Do they have what it takes for the company to succeed?

Based on the national occupation code of the job offer or work permit, a company owner can get permanent residency by accumulating points on their profile if they are granted access. This will help them improve their total cumulative ranking score and increase their chances of getting an invitation to apply.

CUSMA Investor / Trader

CUSMA stands for Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement. The term first appeared in July 2020, when CUSMA replaced the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

CUSMA allows nationals of the United States, Mexico, and Canada to secure temporary entry permittance if they are engaged in specified professional activities.

You are entitled to CUSMA if you meet the following criteria (the list is not final):

  • The applicant is either of American or Mexican descent

  • The company is either American or Mexican in origin

  • The applicant wants to enter Canada solely to help grow and direct the business

  • The applicant follows all existing rules for foreign nationals looking to get a temporary entry permit

  • If the applicant is a company employee, they hold an executive or supervisory job that requires a specific skill set

  • The applicant has invested a notable amount of money in their company or is actively funding the business. There is no minimum cash amount: the value of an investment is usually decided by a “proportionality test.” This test compares the sum with the amount typically required to start a feasible business of its sort or the enterprise’s entire value.

Rather than simply wishing to invest, you must have funds committed to the business to be eligible for CUSMA.

Intra-Company Transfer (ICT)

Owners of established companies in other countries can open a Canadian branch and transfer as an executive or manager. If your application is successful, Canada will give you a temporary work permit, and you can bring your family along.

As a foreign national, you must be an executive, senior manager, or have specialized skills to qualify.

Below are the requirements for ICT applications:

  • An associate or subsidiary relationship between the foreign company and Canadian branch is mandatory

  • The Canadian corporation has realistic plans in place to hire people, primarily Canadian nationals or permanent residents

  • The foreign entity must be financially stable enough to support the Canadian company and its employees

  • You are obtaining or seeking to obtain premises for the Canadian entity

After working for the Canadian company for one year, you can create an express entry profile as a foreign national and claim points for job offers.

Provincial Entrepreneur Programs (PNP)

Provincial nomination programs for entrepreneurs are for foreign nationals who want to submit their applications directly to their favorite province instead of letting the IRCC decide.

That means the province in question must either approve or deny your application. The provinces run Entrepreneurial Streams, and each has its unique set of conditions that applicants must fulfill. These are the crucial factors:

  • The number of jobs your company will generate

  • Net worth minimum

  • The minimum sum of an investment

As a foreign national keen to submit your application to a specific province, you are obliged to formally express your interest in your preferred province. Once you have done so, the province will assign you a score. You will be successful and invited to submit your application if you reach the cut-off point or score even higher as provinces conduct draws under the Entrepreneur Streams. You can compare PNPs with C11 Significant Benefits and Information and Communication Technology (ICT) projects; they are pretty similar.

If your favorite province accepts you into the program, you will have to sign a PNP agreement. Afterward, you will receive a nomination certificate if you meet all the agreement’s requirements. You will then have to submit a direct application for permanent residency in that province.

Applying for a temporary entry permit in Canada is a time-consuming and complicated process. It is not easy, especially if you are currently running or planning to run a business.

Start-Up Visa

Business owners or part-owners with 3 years of experience running a successful business are eligible for the Start Up Visa.

There are no minimum investment and net worth requirements for this visa – however, you will need to have settlement funds, as well as sustainable funds in Canada for necessities.

A Start Up visa will allow you to live and work anywhere in Canada, become a permanent resident, and eventually apply for citizenship. Additionally, your business partners (up to five) may apply for Canada immigration and permanent residency.

Self-Employed Person’s Program

The Self-Employed Persons Program is for people who want to immigrate to Canada as self-employed. To qualify for this program, you must have 2 years of relevant experience, prove your intent to become self-employed in Canada, and meet several other criteria.

By qualifying for the Self-Employed Persons Program, you will be able to become a permanent resident and bring your family with you (the province of Quebec has its own business immigration program with its own requirements).

Applicants must have previous experience in one of the following streams – Cultural activities or Athletics.

A self-employed person applying for the Self-Employed Persons Program must be capable of making a “significant contribution” to these activities in Canada. In assessing your application, the immigration officer will determine what is considered significant.

How Can UIS Canada Help?

Need help making your application stand out? Let us take care of the bureaucracy and save yourself the draft-mule work. We know how to craft a winning application.

Get in touch by filling in the contact form here. You can also call us using the toll-free number +1 888 995 2030 worldwide or send us an email at [email protected]. And here is our FAQ section.