Start Your Next Business In Canada

Business visas offer a win-win: Canada attracts investment capital and business nous to its shores, while prospective emigrants gain a chance to become permanent residents of a nation that tops world charts for standards of living, year after year.

Federal Business Visas: Route Closed (...but that's okay)

As of this writing, the federal business investor visa route is closed to new applicants, and at least under the current government, the chance it will re-open is small. That said, if use of this route could be helpful to your case, we can advise you when and if it reopens.
 
However, the federal business visa route is not one we would commonly rely on in any event. We prefer the provincial nomination programs, as they provide:

• lower net-worth and investment requirements,
• access to provincial officials who are tuned-in to local business opportunities and needs, and can be more responsive to work with, 
• high success rates, and
• greater flexibility.

Provincial Business Visas

The provincial alternative to federal business visas offers advantages we prefer.
 
Provincial business visas favour more experienced migrants:
 
• Unlike skilled worker visas, there is no age limit on applicants;
• Business experience remains at a premium – you will need at least two years as a senior manager, or alternatively (and preferably) two or more years as a business owner;
• The certification of net worth provides those who have enjoyed a successful career some welcome recognition of the value of their achievements – but of course not meeting this threshold can also prove a barrier to eligibility.
 
Be advised: The official provincial guidelines for these programs can suffer from one or both of the following problems. Either they make the process seem more straightforward than it is, or they provide more detail than is easily digested, leaving one with the sense of an impossible project.
 
Some guidelines suffer both problems: glossing-over or falling entirely silent about the complicated bits, while focusing undo attention on bureaucratic processes that are relevant only to a handful of applicants.

Annual caps

Once an annual quota is reached, the Canadian Government close the application window.  If you do not have an invitation to apply for a visa before the window closes, you will need to reapply upon the re-opening of the window. Usually, this is not until the beginning of the next calendar year, at the earliest, but there is never a guarantee that new quotas won’t be smaller, or the visa category shelved entirely.
 
Emigration policy changes all the time and what is true today will not remain the same for long. You may currently qualify however Canada update their requirements without notice when they reach the number of people required. Once the cap is reached they close the category to future applications.
Consequently, it is in your best interest not to delay an application if we think you have a valid opportunity.       
 

Application process overview

We organise your application around five key stages, as set out below.

Stage One: Initial Assessment

This fundamental assessment stage is vital to your success and underpins your emigration case.
The primary purpose of immigration control is to confirm you will be conducive to the local economy and the public good.  Formulating a case to support that proposition begins here.
We confirm you meet the basic eligibility requirements. We must provide evidence of the facts and present the best possible case, including:
 
• English Language -- We secure the necessary evidence and help you prepare for any potential IELTS test.  This may not be required in all cases;
• Prior Experience -- We provide guidance on how to present your references and evidence of your prior learning to ensure they comply with the authorities’ requirements.  We can also work with previous employers to guide them on what will be required;
• Net Worth & Anticipated Capex -- Proving you have the capital required to make the requisite financial contribution to the Canadian economy is, for the Canadian government, what this visa is all about, and this is not an issue left to chance;
• Qualifications -- We review your achievements, using a specialist international qualifications equivalency test, ensuring your qualifications are ready to submit for approval to the authorities.

Stage Two: Submission of Your ‘Expression of Interest’

Eligible applicants submit Expression of Interest (EOI) notices, and are then entered into a pool of other applicants who want to obtain this type of visa.
The provincial government draws applicants from among those with the most points; there is not necessarily a minimum point score for eligibility.
However, the minimum point score for any particular draw may vary depending on the strength of competing applicants in the pool.
Therefore, there always exists the incentive to score as many eligibility points as your circumstances will allow. 
 
• We consult with you about ways to maximise your eligibility points;
• We prepare your application to ensure we demonstrate your eligibility;   
• We protect your best interests when representing your case to the dealing Officer;
• We present you to provincial authorities in a manner that demonstrates that you are a serious contender for this visa category, and provide the follow-up necessary to make clear that your application is a live and viable prospect.

Once submitted, there is typically a waiting period until the next draw.  Draws are traditionally held once every four months.

Stage Three: Securing your Temporary Work Visa

Once you have been drawn from the applicant pool, you will be offered an invitation to apply to live and work in Canada on the basis of a temporary work visa.  The offer is likely to include the terms under which you will be offered a temporary visa to begin the process of executing your business plans.
 
We will prepare all of the application forms necessary to secure your temporary visas, with a view to the best possible case to meet the Immigration officer’s requirements when reviewing your file;    
 
• Medical Tests -- We will provide assistance in preparing for your medicals and booking your appointment with a Doctor of your choice that is permitted to conduct these tests;
 • Criminal Records Review -- We will assist you prepare your application for submission.  As this is a confidential report you will be required to apply directly;  
 
In respect to the merits of your case, often we are asked follow up questions that we will address as they arise in accordance with current policy and regulations, we will work to allay any concerns an Immigration Officer may have at that time. 

Stage Four: Establishment of Business

With your temporary visa in hand, it is time to finalise plans to move to Canada, and execute your plans to establish your business.    
 
The process at this stage is largely down to your business proposal, but may include incorporation of a Canadian based business.  NB: How much or how little of the work you do in establishing and managing the business is really up to you. At your instruction, we can assist with all elements of running your business.

By way of two quick examples:

The veterinary surgery: One of our clients has a large extended family in Toronto, including a daughter and grand-children, and a niece who had just obtained her veterinarian’s degree. Our client was happy to identify and purchase properties, but they were retired, interested primarily in their Canadian grand-children, and had no interest in either starting or running a new business. We oversaw the complete set-up and outfitting of a new veterinary surgery, which un-surprisingly included hiring the niece, her more senior supervisor, and two other support staff. We ran the ac-counts and set-up the management systems, while reporting on progress to our client. Upon receiving their visas, the niece took over the management of the business, and began the process of buying-out her aunt and uncle’s shares;
 
Outright purchase: Another client gave us a budget and a set of parameters, and we provided a “shopping list” of businesses that they could make the requisite investment in to satisfy the visa requirements, and which we would be hired to run on their behalf for the duration of the visa process.  They chose to buy what had been an outdoor hand car wash, which their investment turned into an all-season indoor car wash. Our Canadian colleagues continue to be responsible for bookkeeping and the hiring of site managers, and the operation continues to net income. (NB: this particular example would not qualify in some provinces).

Final Stage: Invitation for Permanent Residency visa issued.

Once the provincial authorities are satisfied that your business plan has been executed as anticipated, and has produced the results required, they will issue you with an invitation for permanent residency. This invitation will not issue for at least two years following the initial issuance of your temporary working visa.
 
We typically do not prepare a draft of your application in anticipation of your receipt of the Invitation, as immigration rules and forms change frequently. However, we will maintain your file to include such information as likely will be required for the application, based on cur-rent application procedures.       
    

Case Study One: Banker and property holder turned dental practice manager.

The Singhs came to us after Mr Singh was nearly ten years out of his primary profession, and nearing his 50th birthday. Following the death of her mother, who had lived with them after her father’s death, he and his wife had fewer family connections in London than they did in either New Delhi or Toronto. The family did not consider New Dehli to be a favourable option, particularly with respect to providing for the children’s future. As their eldest daughter was 11, the couple felt that if they were to move they needed to do it soon, so the daughter could establish herself with new friends as a teenager.

Mr Singh had enjoyed a successful banking career, and very early he began focusing his investments in a predominantly East London property portfolio. By age 40 he had left his City job to start a boutique investment firm, which also allowed him the time required to manage the increasing challenges of his buy-to-let portfolio, which in addition to his home, encompassed three single-family homes in Essex, more than 20 London area flats, and two further properties in southern France.

The Singhs had sufficient cash savings to take advantage of Canada’s federal investment program available at the time, however they were opposed to making what they considered a blind investment, and to the requirement that they tie-up such a large portion of their portfolio in the same.

Although Mr Singh felt he might well establish a new investment firm (or a branch of his existing firm) in due course, his knowledge of the business and its regulatory environment led him to conclude that it did not provide a viable near-term opportunity, at least not for visa purposes.

By contrast, Mr Singh had an investment client who had opened his eyes to the potential held in owning and managing dental practices, despite not being a dentist himself. The opportunity lay in leasing or acquiring a viable high street location, fitting it out with the required dental and office equipment, marketing to the local catchment area, and managing the finances and staffing requirements. Experienced dentists were typically retained on a locum basis, in part to help train young dentists, fresh out of school and looking for places to begin their careers. Management of the business was not hugely different from running any other client-facing business. Mr Singh later described it as “selling fillings instead of financial advice”.

The dental practice model also provided a real estate investment opportunity that accorded with the Signhs’ prior experience, and desire to shift their real estate portfolio away from London over time. In the meantime, the rental income from the London-area properties, combined with a favourable exchange rate, cushioned their income needs.

Another advantage of the dental practice was its benefits for the visa process. Additional points are awarded for creating permanent jobs for highly skilled Canadian workers, and dentists and dental assistants certainly fit the bill. As a result, the Signhs’ enjoyed a relatively quick approval both for the temporary work visa and the permanent visa.

At last count, the Singhs' London property portfolio had diminished to a handful of well-placed flats, a single property in Southern France…and three Toronto area suburban dental offices. As for financial advice, he’s left it behind and never looked back!

Case Study Two: Searcher for heart of gold finds a Northwest passage.

 John Chalmers  was 53 when he asked us for assistance retiring to Canada, and in helping him with a very specific plan as to how he would get there.

He planned to make a business of panning for gold (or, placer mining, to be precise).
 
Mr Chalmers was a carpenter by trade, but worked most of his life as a general contractor. This in turn led him to train to operate excavation equipment, and in due course a fellow contractor called on his assistance for some quarry work. So began his fascination with mining generally, and gold mining in particular.
 
From a hobby to an obsession, Mr Chalmers followed his interest to Canada, where over the course of vacations spread over many years, he spent time visiting mine operations wherever he could wrangle and invitation, learning about the industry, and investigating the process of buying and exploiting mineral claims.
 
When he arrived at our door, he had identified several mining claims he wished to purchase, had money in hand, and was ready to go. Unfortunately, he did not have enough money. At least, he did not have enough to meet the net worth requirements for a business visa to British Columbia. But he qualified for the Yukon Territory.

Of course, the Yukon is not for everyone. At over 480k square kilometres, it is almost double the size of the UK, but it is home to only about 30,000 people, and most of them live in or near Whitehorse. It also “enjoys” days with 20 hours of sunlight in the summer.
 
But it was perfect choice for Mr Chalmers.
 
With a company headquartered (and with office staff) in Whitehorse, he could test claims in both Yukon and throughout British Columbia, and upon receipt of his permanent residency visa, he could move depending on where his most active claims are.

Several years on, Mr Chalmers’ official phone number is still in Whitehorse, not that we’ve ever reached him there. He’s not a big fan of email, either, so we don’t hear much from him, but last year we did receive the following, along with his agreement to share his story:
 
“Whitehorse is a bit remote, even for me. But the people are friendly and so helpful its almost embarrassing. People will put down what they are doing if they think you need help, and I met a couple who are now good friends just moving my things into my first rental property. I also got married, and we are both thinking about moving further south. But she has family here, so I don’t know if we’ll ever go. The light in summer is the hardest bit to get used to. It can be helpful to work longer hours, but it gets exhausting. We now just take long vacations south during the worst of it. We’ve bought a camper van and have now been a far south as Idaho and Montana. I still can’t get over the beauty of this place…”
 

Visa Timeline

Key dates are provided as estimates and are subject to change pending wait times and decisions made by third parties.
 
Example Project Timeline
Project start March 2016
 
Initial assessment:  March 2016 - May 2016, 2-3 months
Draft Expression of Interest (EOI):  May 2016 - July 2016, 2 months
Business Plan finalised:  May 2016 - June 2016, 1 month
Financial eligibility confirmed:  May 2016 - June 2016, 1 month
Invitation to Apply for Temporary Work Visa:  3-12 months
Application for Temporary Work Visa:  Septemer 2016 - February 2017, 1 month
Business establishment phase: beginning from October 16 - April 17, 2 years
Invitation to Permanent Residency (PR) visa:  March 2019  (end of year 2)
Application for PR visa: March 2019,  1 month
Canada welcomes entrepreneurs with permanent residency visas
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