About Canada's Federal Business Immigration Programs

Canada’s Federal Business Immigration programs are designed for those foreign nationals who wish to use their business experience to immigrate to Canada. Applicants can only apply for one of the five programs listed below, and the program cannot be changed after the application is submitted.

List of Federal Business Immigration Programs

The Start-up Visa Program is a popular investor visa option that allows you to immigrate to Canada by starting a business across the country. You and your company must meet several requirements for your application to be successful. In general, your company needs to be innovative, create jobs for Canadians, and be competitive internationally. You can also apply for a Canadian Temporary Work Permit while waiting for your application to be approved.

Start-up Visa Program Requirements
Business Requirements Once a designated organization commits to your business:
  • All applicants (upto five applicants for ownership) must have at least 10% voting rights regarding unpaid business shares
  • Together with the appointed organizations, they must have more than 50% of the voting rights related to all outstanding shares
  • Once you have permanent residence, you need to ensure that:
    • You play an active role in the day-to-day management of your business while living in Canada
    • The main area of ​​business must be based partly in Canada
    • Your company is registered in Canada
Letter of Support You must get a letter of support from a designated organization that proves they are willing to invest in and support your start-up. These organizations include:
  • Venture Capital Firms (CAD 200,000 investment)
  • Angel Investor Groups (CAD 75,000 investment) and
  • Business Incubators
Language Requirements You must achieve a minimum of Level 5 in the Canadian Language Benchmark in speaking, reading, listening and writing in either English or French.
Settlement Money Because the Canadian government doesn’t give financial support to this investor visa, you will have to be able to prove that you have enough money to settle you and your family in Canada.
A foreign employee-investor can create a new business, acquire an existing Canadian business or make a significant investment in the industry and qualify for a TFW (Temporary Foreign Worker) work permit. The acquisition of a company by a foreigner should lead, among other things, to the creation or retention of Canadian jobs. There must be a transfer of knowledge to Canada.

What is the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA)?
  • Most employers need an LMIA before they can employ foreign temporary workers. Before starting the recruitment process, you need to determine if you need an LMIA.
  • An LMIA is to determine that there are no Canadian citizens or permanent residents to do the work.
How is an LMIA (Labour Market Impact Assessment) Owner – Operator defined?
  • The employer must be a legal entity (individual, company or organization) offering foreign employment for compensation and identifiable terms in Canada.
  • To qualify as an owner-operator, foreign employee investors must determine the degree of control participation in the company (e.g., a majority or some non-dismissible shares) and actively participate in its business activities.
  • Offers must be made by foreign employee investors who are actively involved in management.
  • The sale or purchase of stock in an existing Canadian company by a foreigner requires immigration authorization. You will most likely depend on getting a work permit. As a result, transactions are often carried out in strategic increments to satisfy immigration and business practices.
  • The current policy requires that the relationship between employers and employees must be identified to consider regulatory responsibilities in managing temporary work programs for foreign workers.
Existing Business
The overseas employee-investor acquires or intends to achieve 100% or a substantial amount of ownership in an existing Canadian business, considers a complete purchase, pending the full and partial acquisition of a Canadian company. In this case, the overseas employee investor will have to apply for an LMIA approval.

New Business
The foreign investor plans to start a new business contingent on a favourable LMIA work permit (Canada). For applying for Canadian immigration, the business should be in “operation,” providing goods or services. The following considerations will apply for the assessment of an LMIA under the Owner-Operator guidelines:
  • Preparation efforts made towards opening the business
  • The presence of a viable business plan
  • Hiring intentions of the company, if they intend to hire permanent residents
  • Role of the foreign-employee investor to become sole owner, be actively engaged and carry out anticipatory work on behalf of the business as a TFW (Temporary Foreign Worker)
How do I get a Permanent Residence with this Program?
  • Once the applicant has an LMIA work permit, successful candidates can at a later stage apply for a permanent residence in Canada. It can be through the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) under the Express Entry system or a suitable provincial immigration stream.
  • If you apply through the FSWP, this program will give your additional CRS 50-200 points (typically CRS 200 points) for the job offer. This will provide you with a different and significant amount of CRS points to get an Invitation to Apply (ITA) and once an ITA is received, the candidate can then apply for Permanent Residence.
The intra-company transferee program allows workers from abroad to obtain an intracompany temporary work permit in Canada. Employees who have specialized knowledge or are working as executives, senior managers and functional managers may qualify under the program.

Eligibility for Canada’s Intra-Company Transferee Program:
  • Employees who have worked full-time for at least one year and have specialized knowledge or managerial or managerial positions may qualify.
  • Executives who carry out direct management or the main components and functions of the company and only receive general supervision or guidance from officers, directors, or other shareholders.
  • People with expertise, where the individual must have advanced knowledge and experience with the company’s products or services.
Requirements for Intra-Company Transferee Program:
Documents that prove the foreign worker is currently employed as a full-time employee at the company for at least one year. The transferee’s current job description or evidence of the individual’s specialized knowledge is also required. Other requirements include:
  • The job description of the position in Canada.
  • The duration of the intra-company transfer.
  • Proof of the relationship between the company in Canada and the foreign country.
Processing Time for the Intra-Company Transferee Program:
The Intracompany transfer processing time in Canada can be completed quickly in 1 month or as long as 12 months, depending on the applicant’s country.
The Self-Employed Persons Program allows foreign entrepreneurs with relevant cultural or athletic activities to establish themselves as permanent residents in Canada. Interested applicants must meet admission requirements and achieve at least a pass mark for the program selection criteria to be considered as self-employed immigrants. Candidates must demonstrate that they have sufficient resources to settle in Canada, support their loved ones and fund their elected work.

Eligibility Requirements for the Self-Employed Persons Program
A foreign national must first meet the Canadian government’s definition of self-employed to be considered eligible for assessment.
  • An entrepreneur with relevant experience as a self-employed person in cultural or sporting activities meets the definition as per the program.
  • Relevant experience must consist of at least two years of self-employment or world-class experience engaging in cultural or athletic activities as determined by the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).
Professional Occupations in Art and Culture
5111 Librarians
5112 Conservators and Curators
5113 Archivists
5121 Authors and Writers
5122 Editors
5123 Journalists
5124 Professional Occupations in Public Relations and Communications
5125 Translators, Terminologists and Interpreters
5131 Producers, Directors, Choreographers and Related Occupations
5132 Conductors, Composers and Arrangers
5133 Musicians and Singers
5134 Dancers
5135 Actors and Comedians
5136 Painters, Sculptors and Other Visual Artists
Technical and Skilled Occupations in Art, Culture, Recreation and Sport
5211 Library and Public Archive Technicians
5212 Technical Occupations Related to Museums and Art Galleries
5221 Photographers
5222 Film and Video Camera Operators
5223 Graphic Arts Technicians
5224 Broadcast Technicians
5225 Audio and Video Recording Technicians
5226 Other Technical and Co-ordinating Occupations in Motion Pictures, Broadcasting and the Performing Arts
5227 Support Occupations in Motion Pictures, Broadcasting and the Performing Arts
5231 Announcers and Other Broadcasters
5232 Other Performers
5241 Graphic Designers and Illustrators
5242 Interior Designers and Interior Decorators
5243 Theatre, Fashion, Exhibit and Other Creative Designers
5244 Artisans and Craftspersons
5245 Patternmakers – Textile, Leather and Fur Products
5251 Athletes
5252 Coaches
5253 Sports Officials and Referees
5254 Program Leaders and Instructors in Recreation, Sport and Fitness
Self-Employed Persons Program: Selection Criteria
Applications from interested candidates are assessed against the points assessment for self-employed business immigration to Canada. The pass mark for the self-employed person program is 35 points out of 100.

Selection Factors Points
Experience Maximum 35 points
Age Maximum 10 points
Education Maximum 25 points
Ability in English or French Maximum 24 points
Adaptability Maximum 6 points
Total Maximum 100 points
Pass Mark 35 points

In most cases, business travellers in Canada do not need a Canadian work permit. Business visitors are foreign nationals who have come to Canada to participate in international business activities but have not entered the Canadian labour market.

Canada is one of the largest economies in the world, attracting thousands of short-term business travellers every year. It has an international market-oriented economy and is a member of the Organization for Economic Cooperation (OECD), Group 7 (G7) and is a signatory to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Enabling international businesspeople to do business in Canada is essential to the country’s continued economic success. Likewise, countries with strong trade agreements and economic partnerships with Canada usually allow Canadian business visitors to enter their country as smoothly as possible. Visa reciprocity is an essential aspect of Canada’s business prospects and economic success.

Business visitors must demonstrate the following requirements:

  • Plan to stay for less than six months with no plans to enter the Canadian labour market
  • Their primary place of business, and source of income and profits, is outside Canada
  • They have documents that support their application and
  •  They meet Canada’s basic entry requirements because they have valid travel documents and money to sustain themselves during their stay
  • Not a criminal, security, or health risk to Canadians

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