British Columbia Entrepreneur Immigration

British Columbia Entrepreneur Immigration

Individuals who intend to settle and invest in British Columbia may be eligible for Canadian permanent residence under this immigration stream. This program is divided into 3 categories:

  • Entrepreneur Immigration — Regional Pilot — This new pilot is for international entrepreneurs looking to establish a new business in a small community in British Columbia.
  • Entrepreneur Immigration Base Category — This category is for senior managers or business owners who intend to invest funds into a proposed business in British Columbia.
  • Strategic Projects Category — Through this category, foreign-controlled companies can set up an operation in British Columbia. Up to five key foreign managerial, professional or technical staff members can be nominated for Permanent Residence in the province.

1. British Columbia Entrepreneur Immigration Regional pilot:

The BC Provincial Nominee Program (BC PNP) Entrepreneur Immigration – Regional Pilot (E.I. – Regional Pilot) is focused on attracting entrepreneurs from around the world to establish businesses in regional communities. This will help meet the communities’ economic development needs and encourage investments outside urban areas.

The business must be established in a community of fewer than 75,000 people located more than 30 kilometers from a larger city.
The two-year pilot is designed to help address demographic challenges in these communities, including the movement of young people to more densely populated cities in B.C. in search of better opportunities.
The British Columbia Provincial Nominee Program (BC PNP) says the two-year pilot is intended to help distribute the economic benefits of immigration to B.C. more evenly across the province.

International entrepreneurs approved through the Entrepreneur Immigration (E.I.) — Regional Pilot will first obtain a temporary work permit to establish and run their business in British Columbia for at least 12 months following the terms of their established Performance Agreement.
If the BC PNP then deems the business to meet the requirements of this agreement on an ongoing basis, the entrepreneur will receive a provincial nomination and can apply to the Government of Canada for permanent residence.

The pilot launched on March 14, 2019, and will be delivered for an initial two-year period.

BC PNP EI Regional Pilot Process

A. Determine Eligibility for the BC PNP EI Regional Pilot

To be considered eligible for the BC PNP EI Regional pilot, a potential entrepreneur applicant must:

  • Have a minimum personal net worth of $300,000;
  • Have active business ownership and senior management experience within the last 5 years that includes:
    • 3 or more years of experience as an active business owner-manager; or
    • 4 or more years of experience as a senior manager; or
    • A combination of 1 or more years of experience as an active business owner/manager and 2 or more years of experience as a senior manager.
  • Demonstrate a minimum language proficiency equivalent to a Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) Level 4;
  • Provide a business plan to establish a new eligible business in an enrolled B.C. community;
  • Have either a Post-secondary credential or experience as a business owner/manager with 100% ownership of the business for at least 3 out of 5 years;
  • Demonstrate that they will hold at least 51% ownership of the proposed business; and
  • Be able to make a minimum of $100,000 in eligible business investments in the proposed business (only if invited to apply). The BC PNP will not consider any investment made before the date of invitation.

B. Conduct a Community Exploratory Visit

All potential applicants must conduct an exploratory visit to the community where they are hoping to establish their business. The prospective E.I. Regional Pilot candidate is expected to present a business proposal to the community representative during the exploratory visit. The purpose of the visit is to obtain a community referral, which is required to register for the BC PNP’s E.I. Regional Pilot.

C. Business proposal and referral request

The applicant must provide a business plan to establish a new business in the participating B.C. community in the business proposal. The business must be established to earn profits by offering products and/or services to the local community. The business must also demonstrate the potential for long-term financial success.
Ineligible businesses include bed and breakfasts, hobby farms and home-based businesses, real estate development /brokerage, insurance or business brokerage.

For the community referral, the applicant must:

  • Learn about the enrolled community and their priority industry sub-sectors;
  • Understand the business conditions, local market and support services available to establish the business;
  • Propose and develop a business concept that aligns with a priority industry sub-sector identified by the enrolled community;
  • Meet with the designated community representative to discuss the business concept; and
  • Request a referral from the enrolled community so they can submit an online registration with the BC PNP.

D. Submit Registration to the BC PNP and Obtain a Registration Score

Following the issuance of a community referral, potential applicants must submit an online registration to the BC PNP by providing work and/or business experience, education, language ability, net worth, and details about the proposed business.

E.I. Regional Pilot registrants must also submit a copy of their community referral and test results to prove their official language abilities.

The registration will result in candidates being scored out of a maximum 200 points based on the following breakdown:

Scoring SectionsPoints
Business owner-manager or senior management experience22
Ownership (100%)2
Net Worth6
Total Personal Investment10
Jobs created and/or maintained15
Location: Population size of enrolled community6
Self-DeclaredLocation: Regional District of enrolled community12
Adaptability: Minimum language proficiency23
Adaptability: Education level16
Adaptability: Age16
Adaptability: Family in the community of proposed business4
Adaptability: Work, business, or studies in Canada9
Self-declared subtotal score140
Commercial Viability: Business model12
Commercial Viability: Market and products/services4
Commercial Viability: Eligible personal investment4
Commercial Viability: Assessment of proposed investment8
Commercial Viability: Ownership percentage2
Business ConceptTransferability of Skills15
Economic Benefits: Significant economic benefits5
Economic Benefits: Jobs assessment10
Business concept subtotal score60

E. Submit a Full Application to the BC PNP

The BC PNP will periodically invite the highest-ranked candidates to submit a complete application to the program. 
When invited to submit an application to the BC PNP, the applicant may be required to attend an interview in Vancouver to discuss information provided in the application.
Applications will be assessed within four months of receipt. 

F. Establish Business and Nomination

If an application is approved, the applicant must sign a Performance Agreement that details all the requirements and conditions that must be met before the provincial nomination for permanent residence is issued by the Government of British Columbia. Following the signing of a Performance Agreement, the BC PNP will give the entrepreneur applicant a letter of confirmation (i.e. work permit support letter), which will allow them to apply to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) for a two-year work permit.
Applicants arrive in B.C. on a valid work permit to establish the business, make investments and create jobs within 365 days (12 months) from the letter of confirmation issuance. An arrival report must be completed and submitted to the BC PNP within 60 days of arriving in the province. An applicant’s accompanying spouse or common-law partner is eligible for an open work permit during this time.
At this stage, the entrepreneur must:

  • Make a minimum of $100,000 in eligible business investments in the proposed business within 610 days (approximately 20 months) of arriving in B.C. on the BC PNP-supported work permit.
  • Create at least one full-time equivalent position for a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada;
  • Actively manage their business in B.C. for at least 12 months to obtain a Provincial Nomination; and
  • Reside within the enrolled community where the business is established for at least 75% of the time while on the BC PNP-supported work permit.

G. Application for Canadian Permanent Residence

After running the business successfully for at least 12 months, the applicant may submit a final report to the BC PNP. The BC PNP will then assess the report and whether the applicant has satisfied the terms and conditions of the Performance Agreement. Final reports are typically assessed within four months.

If the BC PNP approves the final report, the entrepreneur will be issued a provincial nomination certificate and may then apply to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada for permanent residence.

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2. Base Category Program

If you want to immigrate to B.C. and are ready to invest in and actively manage a valid business here, you may qualify for our Entrepreneur Immigration – Base Category. Here is an overview of the requirements.

Personal requirements, you must:

  • Have a personal net worth of at least CAD$600,000.
  • Have, or be eligible for, legal immigration status in Canada.
  • Experience in business and/or management; alternatively, possession of a 2-year post-secondary degree or its equivalent if lacking business experience;
  • Proficiency in either English or French at a Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) of level 4 or above;
  • Possession or potential eligibility for lawful immigration status in Canada.

You must also have been lawfully admitted in the country where you currently reside.

Please review our Entrepreneur Immigration – Base Category Program Guide to see the complete personal requirements.

Business, job and investment requirements

To qualify you must:

  • Establish an eligible new business or purchase and improve an existing business.
  • Make an eligible personal investment of at least CAD$200,000 in the business.
  • Create at least one new full-time job for a Canadian citizen or permanent resident in the business

Please review our Entrepreneur Immigration – Base Category Program Guide to see the complete business and investment requirements, including business eligibility and job requirements.

Registration and application fees

All applicants must pay the following fees:

  • $300 registration fee.
  • $3,500 application fee.
  • $1,000 for each key staff application.  

Business Immigration Process to British Columbia

  1. Craft Your Business Proposal:
  • Begin by curating an exceptional business proposal tailored to your expertise and the B.C. economy’s requirements.
  • Consider researching to determine the best business type and location in B.C. Resources like the ‘Starting a Small Business Guide’ can assist.
  • Propose a business that aligns with the critical sectors mentioned in the program guide. The Trade and Invest British Columbia website is a valuable resource.
  1. Submission to BC PNP:
  • Upon proposal completion, initiate your registration with the BC PNP through the BCPNP Online portal.
  • An associated fee of $300 (non-refundable) will be applicable.
  • Your registration will be evaluated based on multiple factors like your educational background, experience, business viability, and more. A detailed scoring can be found in the EI Base Program Guide.
  • Successful registrations enter a pool for 180 days and await an invitation. An invitation isn’t guaranteed.
  • Post invitation, an authorized accounting firm will validate your financial status before you proceed with your application. Application details and interview information must remain consistent.
  • If successful, a unique performance agreement will be inked with the Province of B.C.
  1. Securing a Work Permit:
  • Post BC PNP approval, a support letter will be issued to you for work permit application with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).
  • You’re required to submit this within 90 days and make your move to B.C. within a year.
  1. Establishing Your Business in B.C.:
  • Upon your B.C. arrival, a 20-month period is given to:
  • Implement your proposed business plan.
  • Actively manage your business.
  • Fulfill the performance agreement’s stipulations.
  1. Achieving BC PNP Nomination:
  • To obtain a nomination, submit a comprehensive report between 18-20 months after your B.C. arrival. This should prove adherence to your performance agreement.
  • Language proficiency, in line with Canadian Language Benchmark Level 4, is obligatory.
  • Post a successful review, you’ll be asked to sign a Conditions of Nomination agreement.
  1. Attaining Permanent Residency:

With the nomination in place, you’ll receive a confirmation as a provincial nominee. This allows you to apply for permanent residence under the Provincial Nominee Class with the IRCC.

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3. Strategic Projects

The Strategic Projects category of the B.C. Provincial Nominee Program (BC PNP) Entrepreneur Immigration stream is for foreign corporations who have identified strategic investment opportunities in B.C. to establish integral operations to the growth and expansion of their core business.

This category enables foreign corporations to permanently transfer key staff with the corporate knowledge and expertise to B.C. The foreign corporation may apply for provincial nomination to support the permanent residence of up to five of its current senior employees. These employees will actively manage the B.C. operation.

Is my company eligible?

To be eligible, the foreign corporation must meet the following requirements:

  • Be well-established and in good financial standing.
  • Demonstrate investment readiness and capacity for international expansion into B.C.
  • Provide significant economic benefit to the province by making a high value investment in B.C.

Are the key staff members eligible?

To be eligible as key staff, the individual(s) must meet the following requirements:

  • Be current senior employees of the foreign corporation who have the qualifications and experience that are essential to establish and operate the business in B.C.
  • Is being appointed to an executive or senior managerial position, or has specialized knowledge essential to the proposed B.C. operation.
  • Will be employed in a permanent full-time capacity at the B.C. operation.
  • Is offered a wage commensurate with his/her expertise and consistent with industry and corporate compensation structures.

IRCC will not accept applications of key staff members who:

  • Are prohibited from entering Canada.
  • Have not been lawfully admitted in the country of current residence.
  • Are in Canada and are out of status.
    • An individual whose status has expired, and they cannot demonstrate they have applied for restoration of status within the 90-day eligibility period, will be considered out of status.
    • Are working in Canada without authorization.
  • Have an unresolved refugee claim in Canada.
  • Are under a removal order in or outside Canada.

What are the requirements?

The foreign corporation must:

  • Make a minimum equity investment of at least $500,000 directed toward the corporation’s operations in B.C.
  • Establish new or purchase and expand an eligible business in B.C.
  • Create at least three new full-time equivalent jobs for Canadian citizens or permanent residents for each foreign key staff member proposed (to a maximum of five key staff)

Which types of businesses are ineligible?

The following types of businesses are ineligible under the BC PNP:

  • An immigration-linked investment scheme pursuant to provincial immigration programs regulation section 6(E) and the Immigration And Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR) section 87(5)(B) and as defined in IRPR 87(9).
  • Any business where the terms of investment include a redemption option pursuant to IRPR 87(6)(D).
  • Any business that may be a passive investment pursuant to IRPR 87(6)(C).
  • Aed and breakfasts, hobby farms and home-based businesses.
  • Payday loan, cheque cashing, money changing and cash machine businesses.
  • Pawnbrokers.
  • Tanning salons.
  • DVD rental stores.
  • Coin-operated laundries.
  • Automated car wash operations.
  • Scrap metal recycling.
  • Businesses selling used goods (excluding businesses that provide value-added services such as repairs, refurbishing or recycling).
  • Real estate development/brokerage, insurance brokerage or business brokerage.
  • Businesses involved in producing, distributing or selling pornography or sexually explicit products or services, or providing sexually oriented services.
  • Any other type of business that by association would tend to bring the BC PNP or the government of British Columbia into disrepute.

What is the application process?

Step 1: Make an exploratory visit to B.C.

We encourage senior executives representing the company to visit B.C. to explore and learn more about opportunities and the local business environment.

Step 2: Discuss your proposal

Before applying to the Strategic Projects category, the company must first contact the BC PNP to discuss the business proposal.

Step 3: Register

The company must register expressing the company’s interest to apply. As part of the registration, the company will be asked to provide the following:

  • Company details.
  • Proposed investment In B.C.
  • ​Proposed key staff qualifications.

Please contact the BC PNP for further details on submitting a Strategic Projects registration.

There is a registration processing fee of $300.

We will review the registration and determine if the foreign corporation is eligible to apply.

If invited to apply, the company must submit a full application within 90 days. The invitation to apply will expire after 90 days; the corporation may choose to submit a new registration.

Step 5: Applying to the BC PNP

The company must submit all the required forms as a single complete application package including key staff forms and other supporting documentation. The application processing fee is $3,500 for the company and an additional $1,000 for each key staff proposed.

We will review the application for completeness. We may ask the foreign corporation clarifying questions and request additional documentation. As part of the application assessment process, each key staff member may be invited to attend an in-person interview at the BC PNP offices in Vancouver.

A decision will be made regarding the application and communicated to the company.

Step 6: Signing Performance Agreements

If the application is approved, the company’s designated signing authority signs a corporate Performance Agreement with the Province of B.C. Each approved key staff member will also be required to sign a Performance Agreement.

Step 7: Work Permit & Arrival Report

We will issue a work permit support letter to each approved key staff member so they can apply to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) for a work permit. This work permit support letter is valid for 90 days.

After signing their Performance Agreement, each key staff must arrive in B.C. with their valid work permit within 180 days (6 months) from the date of issuance of their work permit support letter.

Within 60 days (2 months) of arriving in B.C., each key staff must submit a completed arrival report form to the BC PNP.

Step 8: Business Establishment & Nomination

After fulfilling its obligations under the executed Performance Agreement, the foreign corporation must submit a final report to the BC PNP to demonstrate how the company has met the terms and conditions of the Performance Agreement. We will review the report, and may conduct site visits or interviews to verify information.

If we determine that the company has met the terms and conditions of the Performance Agreement, each key staff member who has satisfied the terms and conditions of his/her Performance Agreement will be nominated for permanent residence.

Step 9: Apply for Permanent Residence

Each key staff must submit their application for permanent residence to IRCC within 180 days from the date of nomination.

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