Canadian Immigration Lawyers Guide to Immigration Options for Entrepreneurs in Canada

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With the help of immigrants, Canada’s economy is slowly beginning to bounce back from the COVID-19 crisis. While there has been a lot of talk about expanding the skilled workforce to cover labor market gaps, this also requires company owners to set up shop and make new positions available.

If you’re an entrepreneur looking to come to Canada with the hopes of opening or running a business here, you can choose from a variety of immigration pathways. Some Canadian immigration procedures even allow speedy submissions for permanent status. Other Canadian immigration options require that prospective immigrants first establish themselves in Canada and run their businesses while holding a temporary work visa.

The immigration laws in Canada are complex, but our immigration lawyers know all the ins and outs. Below, we’ve outlined some common avenues for entrepreneurs in Canada.

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Alternatives for temporary residence in Canada

Entrepreneurs who want to come to Canada and work there temporarily can achieve this through a variety of work permit alternatives.

There are two primary routes to obtaining a work permit. One requires a Labor Market Impact Assessment (“LMIA”), and the other doesn’t.

Employment Authorization from the LMIA

The first phase of the standard LMIA process involves the employer submitting the LMIA request to Service Canada for review. After the LMIA is granted, the applicant can then use it to submit a work visa application.

In order to apply for an LMIA from Service Canada, the firm or employer must publicly advertise the role they are trying to fill for a minimum of four weeks within three months before the submission date. The company will evaluate any person who applies to work at the organization to see if they meet the requirements of that job. If the corporation can’t find qualified Canadians, it may apply for an LMIA.

Service Canada has announced that the “Owner/Operator” LMIA recruiting variant will be discontinued as of April 1, 2021. Owner/operator applications will now be evaluated under standard procedures, which, as mentioned above, involve extensive advertising and recruitment to prove that no competent Canadians or permanent residents are available to fill the post.

While it’s certainly conceivable for an owner/operator to go through the regular LMIA procedure, doing so would be counterproductive because they would essentially be advertising for their own position within the company they run. Moreover, they would have to do extensive background checks on potential employees. Because of this, most enterprises may be better off with work permit alternatives that don’t need an LMIA.

Work visa-free from the LMIA requirement

Entrepreneurs can also apply for a number of work permits available that are not subject to the LMIA regulation. The applicant must fall into one of the categories for which a work permit is not subject to the LMIA  to receive LMIA exemption status.

In most cases, this requires a digital employment offer (also known as an “Employer Compliance Submission”) on the individual’s behalf by the recruiter using the Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (“IRCC”) Employer Portal. The next step is for the applicant to provide evidence supporting their claim that they are eligible for an LMIA-exempt work visa.

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Alternatives for permanent residency in Canada

In addition to or as an alternative to the aforementioned work permit alternatives, entrepreneurs interested in relocating to Canada full-time can see if they’re eligible for permanent residency.

Successful business owners can choose from a variety of permanent residency pathways. These will be decided by factors such as the applicant’s credentials, the applicant’s region of residency, and the type of business the applicant plans to launch in Canada.

Start-Up Visa Program

The purpose of Canada’s Start-Up Visa Program is to attract foreign-born company owners with the know-how to launch new companies in the country. This way, it generates permanent and temporary employment opportunities for Canadians and other residents.

Getting into this program is tough since you have to meet a few criteria. Some of these are:

Obtain backing from a specific organization

The program requires applicants to have the backing of a specified entity, such as a venture capital fund, angel investor network, or business incubator.

Own a legitimate company

To be eligible for the Start-up Business Class, a company must be legally formed before making any binding agreements with other parties. Additionally, all applicants must own at least 10% of the total number of shares in the company with voting rights. Either the applicants or the supporting organization must control more than 50% of the organization’s voting rights for the application to be considered.

Acquire the necessary qualifications for entry

Both the business and the person applying must fulfill certain requirements for the program. This involves showing that you can converse in English or French and have enough money to establish yourself in Canada.

Applicants who demonstrate they will be an “indispensable” member of the company and who get a support letter from a qualified organization will be eligible for a work visa under the scheme while their permanent residency application is under review. This allows  prospective business owners to come to Canada and build their company without waiting for permanent residency status.

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Express Entry

Even though Express Entry isn’t tailored specifically for business owners, it’s still a viable choice for anyone trying to move to Canada permanently. Each candidate in Express Entry is given a score depending on the data presented in their profile. They will receive an Invitation to Apply (“ITA”) for permanent residency if they score high enough. Different aspects of the applicant’s productive capacity, such as age, language proficiency, job experience both within and outside of Canada, schooling, and more, will be considered when awarding points.

However, in addition to meeting the point requirements for an ITA, candidates must meet the requirements of at least one federal program (there are three). Entrepreneurs should be aware that job experience gained while self-employed in Canada does not qualify as Canadian job experience.

Because of this, foreign nationals who have owned and run enterprises in Canada but have no other paid job experience in the country must apply through the Federal Skilled Worker Program rather than the Canadian Experience Class. In addition to the above-mentioned criteria, applicants for the Federal Skilled Worker Program must also fulfill a points requirement based on similar factors.

Although this program is not aimed squarely at entrepreneurs, it might be the quickest and easiest route to obtain permanent residency in Canada for those who meet the requirements.

Programs for provincial nominations

To facilitate the immigration of qualified foreign nationals, the Canadian government established provincial nomination programs (“PNPs”) for every province. In most cases, hopeful candidates must submit a nomination application to the province first. The candidate will need to reapply to IRCC after receiving the nomination, this time for permanent residency. Although PNPs are administered at the provincial level, applications are reviewed at the federal level.

Many Canadian provinces provide immigration programs tailored specifically to entrepreneurs and self-employed people who want to establish themselves in the country and start or grow a business. Each province has its requirements for nomination. To apply for a provincial nomination, you need first decide which province you want to call home, as the qualifications for these programs differ by location.

An immigration lawyer

Self-Employed Persons Program

Permanent immigration to Canada is available under the Self-Employed Persons Program for those who have extensive expertise in the arts or sports and can make a major contribution to Canada’s cultural or athletic landscape.

If you want to apply through this route, you’ll need to show that you have the skills and experience to succeed as a self-employed artist or athlete in Canada. This can be anything from being a professional in the arts or sports industry to having participated at a high level in such fields. The minimum amount of relevant work experience for a self-employed individual is two years, and there are several paths to reaching this goal.

If applicants have the necessary background, they must show that they have earned at least 35/100 points in the selection criterion. Education, work experience, age, the ability to speak English or French, and adaptability all factor into the selection process.

Talk to our immigration lawyers today

Are you an entrepreneur who wants to establish and grow your business in Canada? We can help you submit a flawless application for permanent or temporary residence. Our immigration lawyers can also guide you on other immigration options for entrepreneurs in Canada and help you apply for those alternatives. At Nanda & Associate Lawyers, we take the hassle of navigating through legal requirements and obstacles on our shoulders.

Schedule a free consultation with our team in Toronto right away to start learning about your options and the best way forward. We can also assist you with spousal support services in Canada.

Disclaimer: This article is only intended for educational purposes and shouldn’t be used as a substitute for legal advice.

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