Business Immigration to Canada Through Provincial Nominee Programs


A founding partner of Abramovich & Tchern, Ksenia started her legal career at one of Canada’s top immigration firms, where she operated her own immigration law practice, with a focus on corporate and individual immigration applications.

Most Canadian provinces have created their own business immigration pathways that allow business owners to enter Canada to work for their Canadian company and then receive a provincial nomination to apply for permanent residence. These streams generally involve a multi-stage process that generally requires the applicant to receive an invitation to apply to the province and to go through several stages of approval before a permanent residence application can be submitted. The most popular and effective PNP streams for entrepreneurs are in the provinces of Ontario and British Columbia, although opportunities may also exist in Saskatchewan and the other provinces and territories.

The Entrepreneur Stream Under The Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program

The Entrepreneur Stream under the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP) targets business people resident outside of Canada who are interested in starting a new business or buying an existing business in Ontario.

It allows a business owner and up to one additional business partner owner an opportunity to apply for and be nominated for permanent residence once their business has been established in Ontario.

What Do I Need To Apply For The Entrepreneur Stream Under the OINP

In order to apply, the business owner and, if applicable, their business partner, needs to:

  • Have a 24 months of full-time business experience (managerial) in the 60 months preceding the application;
  • Demonstrate a minimum net-worth of $400,000 if the proposed business is outside the GTA and $800,000 inside the GTA;
  • Be able to make personal monetary investment of either $200,000 or $600,000 depending on business location (inside or outside the Greater Toronto Area); and,
  • Have an active role in the company.

What Businesses Are Eligible To Apply Under the OINP

The business purpose must be to make a profit from active income through the sale of goods and/or services. In other words, passive investments do not qualify.

The following businesses are excluded from consideration from OINP:

  • Automated car wash business
  • Laundromats
  • Pawnbrokers
  • Payday loan and related businesses
  • Scrap metal recycling
  • Tire recycling
  • Businesses that have been previously owned/operated by current or former OINP business stream nominees

If your proposed business will be located in the Greater Toronto Area, the following types are also ineligible:

  • Existing franchises in Ontario (new foreign franchises expanding into Ontario are permitted);
  • Gas stations; and,
  • Bed and breakfasts.

Although purchasing an existing franchise inside the GTA is not an option, many applicants who use the OINP entrepreneur stream choose to purchase a franchise outside of the GTA.

What Is The Process For Applying Under The OINP As A Business?

As noted above, the process involves several steps and begins with registering an Expression of Interest (EOI). No supporting documents are required at the EOI stage. The EOI is assessed in light of other applications in the pool. Top applicants are issued an invitation to apply for a PNP.

If invited to apply, the business owner(s) is issued a work permit support letter, submits an application for a work permit, is issued a work permit to complete the conditions of the nomination,  and signs a performance agreement that sets out the terms of the business plan and conditions of the nomination. Conditions of the nomination typically include actions such as hiring of staff and investing the complete designated amount of personal funds.

After 20 months, a final review is held to determine whether the applicant and business have met the terms of the performance agreement. Once the conditions of the program are satisfied, the Province of Ontario issues a Provincial Nomination Certificate, which the business owner(s) then uses to apply for permanent residency.

Entrepreneur Stream—British Columbia PNP

British Columbia’s Entrepreneur Immigration Stream is quite similar to the Ontario program.

Who Can Apply To British Columbia’s PNP As A Business

A business owner and up to one business partner may apply under this program. The base requirements to qualify for the program include:

  • Residing 100 km within the business location,
  • Meeting a minimum score of 4 on the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB),
  • Maintaining an active role in the business,
  • Demonstrating a minimum net worth of $600,000, and
  • Demonstrating a minimum personal investment amount of $200,000. 

If the application is approved, the business owner(s) need to sign a performance agreement with the Province of British Columbia. They are then able to apply for a work permit and enter British Columbia to operate the business. 

Once the business owner(s) satisfies all the conditions of their performance agreement, a nomination certificate is issued, which the business owner(s) may use to apply for permanent residence.

If you are interested in this program, we recommend that you review the BC Government’s Entrepreneur Immigration – Base Category Program Guide to see the complete business and investment requirements, including business eligibility and job requirements.

British Columbia’s Entrepreneur Immigration Regional Pilot Program

Another option for immigrant entrepreneurs interested in BC is the province’s Entrepreneur Immigrant – Regional Pilot program, in which participating communities are  actively involved in attracting foreign entrepreneurs to their community. These communities may refer foreign entrepreneurs whose business concept aligns with the community’s economic priorities to the BC PNP. The foreign entrepreneur must be invited by the community to conduct an exploratory visit and present their concept to the community’s designated contact person prior to receiving a referral. Foreign entrepreneurs who are referred by a participating community are placed in a separate registration pool dedicated to the pilot when they register. Regional pilot registrations and applications are prioritized.

The biggest advantage of this program for immigrant entrepreneurs is, in addition to the prioritization it offers, is that net worth and personal investment amounts are generally lower from those in the main Entrepreneur Stream.

For more information about this unique pilot program, review the BC Government’s Entrepreneur Immigrant – Regional Pilot page.

Or, book a consultation with us to discuss which of BC’s Entrepreneur programs is right for  you. If you are an entrepreneur looking to immigrate to Canada, you do have many options.

What About The Other Provincial Nominee Programs?

While the Ontario and British Columbia entrepreneur streams are the most robust and well-defined PNPs targeting business immigration to Canada, depending on your industry, experience, and type of business, additional opportunities may be available in other provinces. Let’s discuss how your business objectives can align with your personal immigration strategy.

Ksenia Tchern

A founding partner of Abramovich & Tchern, Ksenia started her legal career at one of Canada’s top immigration firms, where she operated her own immigration law practice, with a focus on corporate and individual immigration applications.