The Secret to the Canadian Investor Visa

Before we get into the details of the investor visa, let’s clear something up, there is no investor visa. The old investor program allowed foreign businessmen and women to invest $3million into Canadian projects and get permanent resident status in return. The program has been discontinued to make way for more progressive entrepreneurial programs that target foreign entrepreneurs who want to own and run a business in Canada.  

So we are going to discuss not the secret, but the secrets to the Canadian investor visa by showing you what your options are, how to go about starting your Canadian business venture, and how to become a permanent resident in the process. 

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1. What Is Business Immigration To Canada?

Business immigration to Canada can take many different forms. Depending on what type of business you have experience in, there are a number of programs you could be eligible to become a permanent resident. Some of the more popular options for entrepreneurs in Canada are:  

  • Buying an existing business - you can buy a business that is already operating in Canada that has been put on the market by the owners. There are rules when it comes to becoming a permanent resident that vary from province to province. The most important being you must retain the staff who work at the company when the transition takes place.
  • Starting a new business - more often foreign entrepreneurs prefer to open their own businesses in Canada. Once again provinces will have different rules regarding the minimum investment amount and so on, you can find information about this in the following sections. But most importantly keep in mind that you will be required to create permanent employment for at least one Canadian permanent resident or citizen who is not your immediate family.
  • Finding an investor - for immigrant entrepreneurs with an idea to start a business in Canada that is innovative, will create jobs for Canadians and you plan for your business to be competitive on a global scale. The idea is you secure funding from a designated organization in Canada, and you can become a permanent resident too.
  • Buying an existing farm - or starting a new farm. Running a profitable farm is very possible in Canada. You have to show you have the experience to qualify, but communities are very supportive and markets are stable. Ranchers and farmers live happy, peaceful lives in Canada. They work hard in the summer months and enjoy a decent amount of time off when the snow comes and the ground freezes over.

What it comes down to, is you must apply for permanent residency if you want to run a business in Canada. Therefore, business immigration is the process of immigrating to Canada and opening, buying, and starting a business to support yourself and your family. If you are thinking about owning and running a business in Canada, you need to be thinking about the immigration process too.  

2. Canadian Investor Visa Program

Canadian Investor Visa

The Start-up Visa Program, also known as the investor visa, is a unique business immigration program geared towards helping immigrant entrepreneurs with an innovative idea to start a business in Canada. They must also be able to demonstrate that they possess the knowledge and/or skills to execute the idea effectively. 

The first step of the process is to secure funding for your business. You are required to get the support of one or more of the designated organizations that have been approved to invest in or support start-ups through this visa program. 

Designated organizations, or business organizations, choose which business proposals to review. Each organization has its own process for how it handles and reviews proposals, you will need to tailor your proposal to the format expected. Some organizations ask for detailed business plans, while others ask for them in person through presentations.   

If you make it past the first round, your idea will be reviewed so that an in-depth assessment can be made of your proposal to assess its potential and estimate the chances of its success in the Canadian market. If the organization chooses to fund your proposal, you will be given a letter of support

Eligibility for the Canadian Investor Visa

To be eligible for the Start-Up Visa Program and permanent residency in Canada, you must:

  • Have a qualifying business
    • When you get the support of a designated organization, each applicant must hold at least 10% of the voting rights attached to all the shares held in the corporation and applicants together with the supporting organization must hold at least 50% of the voting rights attached to all shares.
    • When you receive your permanent residence, you must be providing an active and ongoing role in the day to day management of the business from within Canada.
    • An essential part of the business must be ongoing within Canada.
    • The business must be incorporated in Canada

  • Have a letter of support from a designated organization

  • Meet the language requirements
    • You will need to show that you can effectively communicate in either French or English to be able to conduct business in Canada. You will be required to take a Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) test and score 5 or higher in all of the categories including reading, writing, listening, and speaking. 

  • Show that you have enough money to settle in Canada
    • You will not be entitled to any support from the Canadian government as a start-up visa applicant. You will need to show that you meet the minimum required amount for yourself, and any family members who will be accompanying you to Canada. 

Settlement Funds
Number of Family MembersRequired CAD
additional members$3,492

3. PNP Business Immigration Streams

Knowing where to set up shop in Canada is the key to a successful business. You’ve heard it before - location location location. And there’s a reason why this word has been repeated. Being located in the wrong province, city, or even neighborhood can either make or break your business.  

Once you’ve done your research on where in Canada your business will thrive, it’s time to take a look at your business immigration options. 

Below is a breakdown of Provincial Immigration Programs (PNPs) and streams along with their respective requirements: 

Provincial Business Immigration Streams
AlbertaInternational Graduate Entrepreneur Immigration Streamat least two years of full-time education in Alberta, resulting in a degree or diploma from a designated post-secondary institution in Alberta.
Post-Graduation Work Permit for at least 2 years at the time of applications
Minimum CLB or NCLC of 7
Must establish a new business or buy an existing business in Alberta with a minimum 34% ownership. The proposed business type must not be on the ineligible list of businesses
Business Partners must be Canadian citizens or permanent residents
Minimum of 6 months of full-time work Experience (managing and/or owning a business)
AlbertaSelf Employed Farmer StreamFarm management skills
Sufficient financial resources - a minimum of CAD$500,000
Primary production investment
British ColumbiaEntrepreneur Immigration Regional PilotStart a new business
Minimum CLB 4
Sufficient financial resources - a minimum of CAD$600,000
Personal investment of at least CAD $200,000
Create at least 1 job for a Canadian citizen or permanent resident
British ColumbiaEntrepreneur Immigration Base CategoryPurchase an existing business
Minimum CLB 4
Sufficient financial resources - a minimum of CAD$600,000
Personal investment of at least CAD $200,000
Create at least 1 job for a Canadian citizen or permanent resident
ManitobaBusiness Investor Stream: Entrepreneur PathwayAt least three full years of full-time business experience (owner or senior manager) in the last five years
Owners must have at least 33.33% ownership to claim points
Minimum Canadian high school equivalent
No minimum age (best ranking points 25 to 49 years old)
Minimum CLB 5
Minimum investment of CAD$150,000 (outside Manitoba Capital Region) - CAD$250,000 (within Manitoba Capital Region)
Business plan
Personal net worth of CAD$500,000
Business Performance Agreement (BPA)
Create at least 1 permanent jobs for a Canadian citizen or permanent resident
Must be an eligible business
ManitobaBusiness Investor Stream: Farm Investor PathwayAt least three full years of farm ownership and operation experience
Language ability in English and/or French
Farm business investment CAD $300,000 to establish a farm in rural Manitoba Business Research Visit
Live on and actively be involved in the running of the farm
Personal net worth of CAD$500,000
Nova ScotiaEntrepreneur Category21 years or older
intend to live permanently in Nova Scotia
At least three full years of actively owning or managing a business (1 third ownership minimum) OR
More than five years of experience in a senior business management role
Minimum CLB 5
Online Expression of Interest
Invitation to Apply from Nova Scotia
Personal net worth of CAD$600,000
Newfoundland & LabradorInternational Entrepreneur Category21 - 51 years old
Business Plan
the minimum equivalent of Candian High School certificate (Educational Credential Assessment - ECA)
intend to live permanently in Newfoundland & Labrador
At least two full years of actively owning or managing a business (25% ownership minimum) in the last five years OR
More than five years experience in senior business management role in past 10 years
Minimum CLB 5

Expression of Interest
Invitation to Apply from Office of Immigration and Multiculturalism
Personal Investment of CAD$200,000(minimum ownership of 33.3% or 1 million equity)
Invitation to Apply from Nova Scotia
Personal net worth of CAD$600,000
Create at least 1 full-time job for a permanent resident or Canadian citizen
New BrunswickEntrepreneurial Stream22-55 years old
Minimum CLB 5
Minimum two-year post-secondary education after high school
Minimum 33.3% ownership and active in day-to-day operations
Economic benefit to the province  
Business Investment of CAD$250,000 (minimum ownership of 33.3% or 1 million equity)
Invitation to Apply from Nova Scotia
Personal net worth of CAD$600,000 (CAD$300,000 must be liquid)
Expression of Interest

Create at least 2 full-time jobs for a permanent resident or Canadian citizen of a minimum of 30 hours per week    
Northwest TerritoriesBusiness StreamMinimum of CAD$150,000 (outside corporate boundaries of Yellowknife) - CAD$300,000 (within corporate boundaries of Yellowknife)
at least 33.3% ownership of business OR at least CAD$1 million equity investment
Personal net worth CAD$250,000 (outside corporate boundaries of Yellowknife) - CAD$500,000 (within corporate boundaries of Yellowknife)
Minimum CLB 4
Necessary experience and education to implement a business plan
OntarioEntrepreneur StreamAt least 24 months of full-time business experience (owner or senior manager) in the last 60 months
Purchase an existing business
Minimum CLB 4
A net worth of CAD$400,000 (outside Greater Toronto) - CAD$800,000 (within Greater Toronto) 
Personal investment of at least CAD $200,000(outside Greater Toronto) - CAD$600,000 (within Greater Toronto)

Active involvement in day to day running of the business
Create at least 2 permanent jobs for a Canadian citizen or permanent resident
Must be an eligible business
Prince Edward IslandWork Permit StreamHave a minimum verifiable personal net worth of $600,000 which has been accumulated through legal and legitimate sources in your own right
have a minimum education of secondary school equivalent
be within 21-59 years of age at the time of application;
have transferable management skills and past employment or business ownership experience
meet minimum language requirements equivalent to a CLB4

Active involvement in day to day running of the business
Attend an interview with staff from the Office of Immigration
Meet the terms and conditions of the Performance Agreement signed with the Office of Immigration
SaskatchewanEntrepreneur StreamExpression of Interest
Minimum Net Business and Personal Assets of CAD$500,000
Minimum of three years of relevant business management or entrepreneurial experience gained in the past ten years
Minimum investment of $300,000 (CAD) in Regina and Saskatoon or a minimum of $200,000 (CAD) in all other Saskatchewan communities
Business Establishment Plan (BEP)
at least one-third ownership of the business or a total investment of CAD $1 million or higher
actively involved in the day-to-day management of business 
Create at least two full-time positions for permanent residents or Canadian citizens 
YukonEntrepreneur StreamAt least five years of full-time business experience (owner or senior manager)
Sufficient communication skills in English and/or French
A net worth of CAD$250,000 (minimum $150,000 liquid assets) 
Must have visited Yukon at least once (meet an officer of Nominee Program)
Plan to be actively involved in business
At least $150,000 equity investment to purchase a minimum of 33.3% of business
Preference is given to businesses in key industries  

4. Buying an Existing Business vs Starting a New Business in Canada

Buy or Start a Business in Canada

Not sure if you should buy an existing business in Canada or launch a new business instead?

It can be easier but more expensive to buy or invest in an existing business in Canada instead of starting a new business. There is also less risk since the business is already known and you can assess the profit margins of the last 2-years before investing. Buying a business can lead to permanent residency even though there is no direct immigration program for it such as with the Start-Up Visa Program. 

When you buy a business you can make out a valid job offer to yourself as the company executive and apply for permanent residency right away under the Express Entry system. Or you can operate your business in Canada for 12-months which will count towards Canadian work experience gained and allow you to immigrate to Canada through the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) skilled worker immigration program of the Express Entry system.

What are the requirements to buy a business in Canada? Find out in the tables below: 

Buy a Business
CostOperation Time Before PR ApplicationRequirements for Permanent Residence
High ($150, 000 +)No minimum requirementsOwnership of 51% of the shares
Active company
Employ at least 1 Canadian

Buy Shares in a Business
CostOperation Time Before PR ApplicationRequirements for Permanent Residence
Moderate ($100, 000 +)No minimum requirementsCompany existed for at least 12-months
Ownership of 51% of shares
Currently Active
The company has sufficient funds

Buy a Franchise
CostOperation Time Before PR ApplicationRequirements for Permanent Residence
Moderate ($100, 000 +)No minimum requirementsActive company
Employ at least 1 Canadian

3 Tips When Buying a Business in Canada

Tip 1: Buy an active business that has been operational for at least 12 months

According to Sobirovs Law Firm, you want to buy an established company with several years of operating experience and loyal employees behind its name. Not only is there less risk involved but Canadian immigration authorities prefer job offers made by established companies under the Express Entry system. If the company you plan to buy has been in business for less than 12 months, be prepared to provide sufficient documents to show that your newly acquired business is actively engaged in business and has sufficient revenue to support your permanent residence application. 

Tip 2: Buy a business with good gross sales for the past 2-3 years

It’s very important to request fundamental documents related to the company you want to buy. These documents include the following: articles of incorporation and shareholder agreements, official corporate tax filings for the past 3 years, T4 summary of remuneration paid for the most recent year, GST/HST filings for the current year, lease agreement for the premises, and all other documents related to the business. 

Always aim to buy a business that has $250, 000 + gross sales per year for immigration purposes.

Tip 3: Buy a business that is relevant to your background

It’s important to be able to show that you have a good understanding of the products/services of your company and will be able to effectively manage your newly acquired business. It will raise questions if you buy a business in which you have no former experience. For example, buying a restaurant when you have no experience in the food or hospitality industry.

On the other hand, you can opt for the Start-Up Visa Program if you have an innovative business idea and want to start your own business in Canada. The process is slightly longer and more detailed. As mentioned at the beginning of this article, you need to send a Business Proposal to designated organizations in Canada to review and approve your business idea. If they do, you will receive a Letter of Support which is needed to apply for permanent residency.

Start a New Business
CostOperation Time Before PR ApplicationRequirements for Permanent Residence
Low ($50, 000 +)At least 12 monthsActive Company in Canada
Commercial office
Employ at least 1 Canadian

5. Requirements to Apply for Permanent Residency

Permanent Residency Requirements | Canadian Investor Visa

Those who choose to buy a business in Canada will most often take the Express route to permanent residency. The Express Entry system is the fastest way to earn PR status in Canada because applications are processed in as little as 6 months compared to the Start-Up Visa Program or Provincial Immigration Streams that have processing times of 20 months or more. 

The Express Entry system works by ranking potential applicants against each other using a points-based system. The highest-ranking candidates are issued Invitations to Apply (ITAs) for permanent residency in Canada.

Here are some of the most important requirements needed to apply for permanent residency as a new business owner in Canada:

Education Credential Assessment (ECA)

An ECA is used to verify that your foreign certificate, diploma, or degree is valid and equal to a Canadian one. You can apply for an ECA report for immigration purposes from any of the designated organizations listed below. Processing times and costs may vary by organization or professional body. 

Designated Organizations
Comparative Education Service – University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies
International Credential Assessment Service of Canada
World Education Services
International Qualifications Assessment Service (IQAS)
International Credential Evaluation Service

Language Test

All immigration candidates must show their level of proficiency in English or French or both (if applicable). In order to do this, candidates must take an approved language test and use the test scores when submitting their application.

A language test assesses candidates’ speaking, listening, reading, and writing abilities and the minimum required scores for each language category varies between immigration programs.  

Approved English and French tests for immigration purposes:


Prepare for your IELTS test with our preparation course to score full marks in all categories.

Approved English Tests
CELPIP: Canadian English Language Proficiency Index ProgramYou must take the CELPIP-General test
IELTS: International English Testing SystemYou must take the General Training option
Approved French Tests
TEF Canada: Test d’évaluation de français,Your test must include writing, speaking, listening, and reading comprehension.
TCF Canada: Test de connaissance du françaisYour test must include writing, speaking, listening, and reading comprehension.

Medical Examination

You must prove that you are in good health before you can embark on your business immigration to Canada. A medical exam must be done by an approved panel physician in your country.  

Police Clearance

You and all of your family members will need police clearance certificates from every country you or they resided in for six months or more since the age of 18.   

Job Offer

A job offer is only required if you buy a business in Canada and intend to take the Express Entry route to Canada. You can make a valid job offer out to yourself to increase your permanent residency points.

What’s a valid job offer? To be considered valid under Express Entry Canada, a Canadian job offer must be for a job that is:

  • Full-time and non-seasonal;
  • For a minimum of at least one year;
  • For a job offer at Skill Level 0, A, or B, according to the National Occupational Classification (NOC) system; and
  • Supported by a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), or be exempt from needing one.

Settlement Funds

Business applicants must demonstrate that they have sufficient funds to support themselves and their family members during their settlement into Canada. The number of family members includes both accompanying and non-accompanying dependents. That means even if your spouse or children do not immigrate to Canada with you, your settlement funds must still reflect their share. See the Canadian Investor Visa Program above for the amount of settlement funds per family member.  

If you choose the Start-Up Visa Program or PNP Business Immigration Stream you will need to provide additional information for your permanent residency application such as a letter of support from a designated organization (a business group that has been approved to invest in or support possible start-ups) and show proof of previous exploratory visits to the province in which you intend to invest. 

6. In-demand Businesses in Canada

In-demand business in Canada | Canadian Investor Visa

The key to finding a business that will be profitable is to find out what services are in-demand and is not already flooded with competition. There are six small business opportunities that are proving to be exceptionally profitable in Canada.

1. Real Estate

As businesses expand in Canada and recruit more people, so does the need to house these employees. Canada’s economy continues to grow at an incredible rate, along with the real estate market, both in commercial and residential sectors. In fact, in 2019 the real estate industry saw a 46.5% profit margin, according to Ibis World, proving that it is a great investment opportunity for anyone looking to bring or start up their own real estate firm in Canada.

2. Professional Financial Services

In 2019, the financial and professional service sector saw an estimated 44.7% profit margin for Commercial Banking in Canada. Most Canadians prefer to use professional financial services when it comes to their own businesses as well as for their tax return submissions. So if you have accounting, finance management, bookkeeping, or consulting skills, you might want to consider setting up your own finance business in Canada and put your expertise to good use. 

3. Fitness and Recreation

This may not seem like it could be lucrative when thinking of franchises such as GoodLife or Anytime Fitness however boutique fitness centers are rapidly growing in trend. Clients have more time on their hands and are looking for personalized fitness routines and personal trainers to help get them in shape. According to Statistica, fitness and sports centers generated more than 4.2 billion in 2019. This is another business option that is not limited by the current restrictions of COVID, as trainers take their sessions online making it both convenient for the client, as they get to work out in the comfort of their home as well as for the trainer, as they won’t have to pay for a gym slot. It’s a win-win really.   

4. Transportation and Storage

Canada has various key sectors, predominantly agriculture, however as these goods are produced, they also need to be transported and stored. The transportation and storage industries are so lucrative and in-demand that the occupation itself is listed on almost every provincial in-demand list of occupations in Canada. This applies to land, sea, and air but if transportation and logistics are not your best option, choosing storage could be a good starting point, especially if you're starting off small. 

5. Waste Management and Remediation

On average, Canadians produce about 2.7 kgs of waste per day or 31 million tonnes of waste every year, 70% of which ends up in landfills, according to Community Research Connections. Whether it's paper, food, tech, or construction, there will always be a need for waste removal. But not just any waste removal. 

Canada is in search of innovative and sustainable ways to not only remove waste but to reduce it too. Other areas include waste diversion and waste recovery. The waste diversion includes recycling or organic processing whereas waste recovery includes turning waste into energy. 

6. Restaurants

One thing is for sure, you can’t go wrong with providing Canadians with good food. Opening a restaurant can be tough, especially in the first three years however with a good business plan and some exceptional marketing you could be pulling in average revenue of anywhere between $30,000 to $5 million, so get those pots and pans on the burners and start cooking up your business venture plans! 

Another option, other than starting up a typical brick and mortar business that is fixed in one location, is to take your cuisine on the road and start a food truck or provide catering services online. Your expenses will be lower and with the current pandemic, you won’t have to worry about social distancing and other regulations related to dining in doors. 

For more business opportunities in Canada, take a look at another top 5 business opportunities in Canada for immigrants

7. Little Known Secrets About Canadian Business Immigration

The secrets of Canadian business immigration | Canadian Investor Visa

1. How long does it take to start a business in Canada?

The average application processing times for the Investor Visa or Start-Up Visa Program in Canada is 20-months. This does not, however, include the time it takes to draw up a business plan, get support from a designated investor, obtain all documents, and register your business in Canada. 

2. Where can I apply for the Canadian investor visa?

Your application must be mailed or couriered to the centralized intake office of the Start-Up Business Class in Nova Scotia. Your completed forms, supporting documents, and fee payment must be sealed in a 23 cm x 30.5 cm (9″ x 12″) envelope.

3. How much does the Canadian investor visa cost?

It costs $2, 075 to process your application for the Investor Visa Program including your right of a permanent resident fee. You will pay extra if you have included your spouse/common-law partner and any dependent children in your application. See the table below for a complete list of government application costs. 

4. Can my family come to Canada on a business visa?

Yes, you can include your spouse or common-law partner and any dependent children (21 and under) in your permanent residency application under the Start-Up Visa program, Provincial Nominee Program, or Express Entry.

5. How long until I become a citizen?

You must be physically present in Canada as a permanent resident for 1,095 days within the five years of gaining PR-status before applying for citizenship. 

6. Can I work in Canada while my permanent residency application is being processed?

Yes, you can work in Canada with a short-term work permit and your family may join you as temporary residents. You do not need to submit your permanent residency application under the Start-Up Visa Program first before applying for a work permit. You do, however, need your Commitment Certificate and Letter of Support as proof that you are in the process of applying for permanent residency under this business program. 

Your Journey to Canada Starts Here

Infographic: David Allon

Applying for permanent residency and going through the process of opening a business in a new country can be time-consuming and difficult to wrap your head around. With strict deadlines, procedures, and requirements, it can be easy to make a mistake that could cost you your chance to become a permanent resident in Canada. But with the guidance and assistance of one of our knowledgeable Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants (RCIC’s). the process will be stress-free. 

When you choose to use our expert and government trusted service you will get:

  • An in-depth eligibility assessment
  • Guidance on which of 100+ immigration programs and visas to choose from;
  • An immigration plan tailored to your individual needs;
  • A review and submission of all application forms and documentation;
  • A Visa Profile Builder to submit and track your application; as well as
  • Support through every step of the application process.

All you have to do is fill out our application form to receive your eligibility assessment and let us take care of the rest. It’s just that simple! Your Canadian journey starts here. 

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