Posted on - May 22, 2018

By Catherine Sas Q.C.

Catherine Sas Q.C.

It is a sad reality that when business people come to consult with our Vancouver immigration lawyers for Canadian immigration opportunities, we have very few options to provide them with. The Federal Investor and Entrepreneur programs were terminated in 2014. The current Start Up Visa category requires securing a Canadian financier to invest in a prospective business concept. The Business Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP) are limiting the number of applications they will consider more and more each year. In November of 2016, the Owner-Operator LMIA category Comprehensive Ranking Score (CRS) points were reduced from 600 to either 200 or 50 points making qualifying for permanent residence far less likely. And the Express Entry selection program does not award any CRS points for self employed business activities such that business persons will not likely qualify for an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for permanent residence. Without a meaningful federal business immigration program and without the ability to qualify for permanent residence under the Express Entry selection system, what options exist for a legitimate business person seeking to establish a business in Canada and obtain Canadian permanent residence?

Business persons who seek to establish a business in Canada with the goal of ultimately obtaining permanent residence, need to develop a clear immigration strategy from the outset. Establishing a business can provide opportunities for obtaining a Canadian work permit under the Owner-Operator LMIA category, as an Intra-Company transferee and as an Investor-Trader under several bi-lateral trade agreements. But garnering a Canadian work permit as a business person does not necessarily lead to permanent residence. Immigration strategies often include encouraging spouses to pursue further education in Canada and/or obtaining employment with a Canadian employer.

Canada’s immigration policy has been steering away from business immigration categories for many years. Most other nations have programs to welcome business immigrants. The UK, Australia, New Zealand and Germany all have business immigration categories. The United States has welcomed approximately 10,000 business applicants through their EB-5 category in both 2016 and 2017. Why is Canada not embracing the entrepreneurial spirit in it’s immigration program?

For the past several decades, Canada’s immigration program had provided for immigrant investors to make a passive investment that would qualify for permanent residence. Passive investment by new permanent residents did not necessarily lead to full participation in Canadian society. Provincial PNP business programs have all moved towards a model granting initial work permits requiring applicants to establish and operate businesses prior to being eligible to qualify for Canadian permanent residence. At the same time most PNP programs have significantly reduced the number of annual applications they will accept limiting opportunities for permanent residence for genuine business persons.

Canada is currently missing out on the opportunities that foreign business people can bring to Canada both financially and entrepreneurially. While we have several categories to provide business people with work permits to operate their new Canadian businesses, we don’t have corresponding options for obtaining Canadian permanent residence. Our Canadian immigration program should welcome and encourage the immigrant business spirit and provide a Canadian business class pathway to permanent residence that will provide ongoing growth and stimulation to the Canadian economy.


Catherine Sas, Q.C. is a Vancouver immigration lawyer at Sas & Ing Immigration Law Centre in Vancouver, BC Canada. Catherine has been practicing law for over 25 years, and has been voted Vancouver’s Best Immigration Lawyer by the Georgia Straight newspaper for 6 consecutive years.

To learn more about immigrating to Canada, becoming a permanent Canadian resident or bringing your family to Canada, email Catherine Sas or call her at 1-604-689-5444.

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