Business Immigration to Canada

Updated on Wednesday 14th April 2021

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Business immigration to Canada refers to the legal framework that regulates the manner in which foreign investors can arrive here for the purpose of making an investment in a specific economic sector or starting a local business. Those who want to open a company in Canada are required to apply for various immigration documents, in accordance with the legislation applicable to their nationality and the purpose of arrival. 
 
Although Canada has several immigration policies aimed at foreign investors, including high-net worth persons wishing to relocate to this country, the main immigration program that has caught the attention of foreign businessmen is the Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW), a program which does not refer solely to the accession of foreign workers on the local employment market, but of foreign businessmen hiring themselves in a Canadian business. Persons who are interested in receiving more information on the Canadian TFW program are invited to address to our team of consultants in company registration in Canada
 

What are the characteristics of the Canadian TFW program?
 

If you are interested in investment immigration in Canada under the TFW program, we invite you to read few of its characteristics, presented in the list below. Extensive information and legal advice on the application procedure can be obtained from our specialists, who can provide you with tailored assistance; the Canadian TFW program is characterized by the following: 
 
  • the foreign person interested in investing here can purchase an already established Canadian business or can start the process of company formation in Canada for their own business;
  • another requirement is to apply for a work visa that grants the right to act as a management employee in the respective company;
  • the work visa will first be issued as a temporary visa, which can be turned into a visa that grants the right to permanent residency after a period of one year, provided that the business venture is a successful one;
  • when the applicant will purchase a Canadian company, specific key points will need to be met, such as the creation of new jobs;
  • besides incorporating a new company or purchase a company, foreign businessmen are allowed to make substantial investments in a local company. 
 

What is the Owner/Operator LMIA in Canada?
 

The TFW program aims at any foreign person who can qualify as Owner/Operator, which means that the applicant will either be the owner of a business by purchasing it or by incorporating in, or that the person holds the majority of shares in a company (more than 51%). At the same time, the person has to be an active employee of the company. 
 
In order to verify if a foreign person qualifies as an Owner-Operator, the Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) program was created. The program can be seen as a way to business immigration to Canada and it has a national coverage and, more importantly, it does not establish a minimum capital investment, which can be the case of other immigration programs that are available here for foreign businessmen. 
 
First, the applicant will need to complete the LMIA document, which is issued by the Employment and Social Development Canada. Through this, a Canadian based company will receive the right to employ a foreign person, who then will be entitled to apply for a visa or a residence permit. As a general rule, the Canadian immigration law provides several types of LMIA documents, but the Owner-Operator LMIA is especially designed for persons who already own a company in Canada and who will make an employment offer to themselves. 
 
In this case, the Employment and Social Development Canada will analyze the document, and will provide an answer to the application and in the case in which it is positive, the applicant receive the right to an immigration document (the work permit and the residence permit). 
 

What are the statistics on LMIA in Canada?
 

LMIA is a common document that can be used for investment immigration in Canada or it can be used solely for the employment of a foreign employee in a Canadian company for a given period of time. Below, we will present the latest statistics regarding the issuance of this document for both business and non-business matters: 
 
  • in January – March 2018 the Canadian authorities issued 29,125 LMIAs, while in the same period of 2019, there were 39,249 such documents;
  • in April – June 2018, a total of 22,770 LMIAs were issued, while for the same period of 2019, their number slightly increased at 24,517 successful applications;
  • the 3rd quarter of 2018 (July – September) accounted for 19,784 applications, while the 3rd quarter of 2019 registered 25,886 documents;
  • the highest number of successful LMIAs issued in 2018 was observed for the 4th quarter of the year (October – December), accounting for a total of 36,460 documents and the same ascending trend was observed in 2019 as well, for the last quarter of the year, when the authorities issued 40,926 documents; 
  • please be aware that the business immigration in Canada is bound by the payment of a fee of $1,000 for each LMIA document processing. 
 

How can one obtain a start-up visa in Canada?
 

Another way to open a company in Canada or make an investment in the local economy is by applying for a start-up visa. There are different legal requirements foreigners must meet, first of them being to have a qualifying business. For a start-up visa in Canada, a qualifying business refers to a company in which each applicant owns at least 10% of the company’s shares (the application is opened for five persons, who can apply as owners of the respective company). 
 
Another legal requirement, which applies at the same time with the one mentioned above, is that the company’s owners, together with the organization that invests in the respective startup company, hold jointly more than 50% of the voting rights of the company. 
 
The organization, which has to be a designated organization (meaning a group which has been approved to provide financial support and invest in start-up ideas), has to provide a supporting letter. Besides these, investors have to meet the language requirements (French or English or both). Here, one has to take a language test from an approved language agency, which must yield the minimum language requirements as per the Canadian regulations on speaking, writing, listening and reading. 
 
Besides these, in order to qualify for a start-up visa in Canada, investors have to provide evidence on their financial situation and that they can support themselves while living in this country. The amount necessary varies based on the number of persons who will relocate to Canada
 
For instance, if there is a single person, meaning the investor, then the minimum amount required will be of $12,960 and for a larger family (applicants are allowed to bring their close family members here) of 7 persons, the minimum amount required can be of $34,299. 
 
It is also necessary to know that besides the minimum amount for living here on a daily basis, the investors will need to calculate the overall minimum value of the investment, as the requirements for the startup visa in Canada will also include the value that must be invested in the start-up company. 
 
Here, the rules for business immigration in Canada will vary based on which is the entity that will invest in the start-up company. A minimum amount of $75,000 is required if the investment is obtained from a designated Canadian angel investor group, while a larger capital, or $200,000, will be required in the case in which the capital is raised from a venture capital fund based in Canada
 
Through this type of visa, the investors are able to receive the permanent residency in Canada. However, not all business projects which are begun through the startup visa in Canada result in successful projects and this is why one has to know that in the case in which the business will not have positive results, this will not affect the right to reside in Canada.
 

Obtaining citizenship in Canada
 

Foreigners who are the holders of a permanent residence permit can qualify for obtaining the Canadian citizenship, if this is of importance to them. If not, they can easily reside in Canada for an unlimited period of time as permanent residents, but even though that they will enjoy from numerous rights, just like the Canadian citizens, they will not have the right to a Canadian passport, or the right to vote. 
 
The main requirement for obtaining the citizenship, regardless if you will obtain it as an individual who simply relocated here or as person who is interested in Canada citizenship by investment, is to be a permanent resident. Another important requirement is to pass the citizenship test. The language criteria are also mandatory, and here, the applicant must meet the minimum language requirements in French or English. 
 
One can also obtain the Canada citizenship by investment through various programs, but most of them have been temporary suspended in the context of Covid-19. A program which was observed to have a high level of demand was the Quebec Investor Visa, applicable only to the province of Quebec and which could also open the pathway to Canada citizenship by investment. For more information, we invite you to address to our team of consultants, who can help you open a company in Canada.