Over the past 15 years, there has been a big shift in Chinese immigration to Canada from skilled workers to investors and business people. Potential business immigrants should be aware of differences between the Federal Business Immigration program and the Provincial Nominee Programs.  

Federal Business Immigrant Program

The Federal Business Immigrant Program has two streams: entrepreneur and investor. Both streams require applicants to have managed and controlled a qualifying business for at least two years, and have minimum net worth requirements. The main differences between the two streams are the significantly lower minimum net worth requirement for entrepreneurs and the conditions entrepreneur applicants must meet once approved and admitted as permanent residents. Failure to meet these requirements may result in the applicants’ permanent resident status being revoked.  

As of July 2011, the Federal Government has temporarily suspended processing new entrepreneur stream applications in an effort to reduce accumulated backlog.

Applicants in the Federal Investor program have no post-admission requirements, however they must make an $800,000 investment with the government. This investment will be returned, without interest, after five years. Successful permanent residents in the investor stream are also free to pursue whatever interests or opportunities may arise once admitted.  

It is important to keep in mind that a new limit was put into place for the Federal Investor program. As of July 4, 2011, this new 700-case intake limit has already been met so no more applicants will be accepted until July 1, 2012.

Requirements for Federal Business Immigrant Program Entrepreneur Stream v. Investor Stream

Click here for table

Provincial Nominee Programs

Fortunately, many provinces have Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP) which in many cases can be a faster route for new business immigrants. Each province has different streams in their PNP to meet the specific needs of their region.

In British Columbia there are three business immigrant PNP streams: Strategic Projects, Business Skills, and Regional Business. All streams require successful applicants to actively engage in the management of a business in B.C., sign agreements with the provincial government outlining their business plan, and create a number of jobs for Canadian citizens or permanent residents. Successful applicants are only issued a Temporary Work Permit until the requirements of the performance agreement are met (usually in about two years).  

The Strategic Projects stream is best suited for foreign companies that wish to establish a presence in B.C. because it allows successful applicant companies to bring up to five executives who wish to become permanent residents.

The Regional Business and Business Skills streams are similar in many ways. They are designed to allow a single applicant the opportunity to purchase or start a business in the province. Both streams offer fast-track options whereby an applicant can deposit $125,000 with the government in return for immediate permanent resident status. The deposit is returned, without interest, once the terms of the performance agreement are met. The Regional Business stream has a lower required net worth and investment but the business established under this stream must be located outside of the Vancouver and Abbotsford metropolitan areas.

Business immigrants should also keep in mind that not all business ventures qualify for admittance under the B.C. PNP. The program is designed to specifically address the needs of the BC economy, and as such only certain kinds of businesses will be considered. These include: manufacturing and resource-extraction, tourism, technology and research, and exporting goods and services.

Requirements for BC PNP Business Immigration Programs

Click here for table

British Columbia is a popular immigration destination because of its mild climate, vibrant economy, and its business immigrant streams. British Columbia traditionally also has a large and well-integrated Chinese community.

Alberta, on the other hand, does not offer any PNP business or investor programs. For those who are unable to meet the B.C. PNP requirements, some other provinces do offer attractive options. The Saskatchewan Entrepreneur PNP, for example, only requires an investment of $150,000, a net worth of $300,000, and a $75,000 deposit, making it a more affordable option to the B.C. programs. The only problem is having to survive the prairie winter.