Posted on - Mar 19, 2019

By Catherine Sas Q.C.

Catherine Sas Q.C.

BC recently launched its new Regional Entrepreneur Pilot program to promote economic development in the province’s smaller communities. The program builds upon the BC PNP Entrepreneur Base program but features lower investment thresholds and partners with smaller communities with populations of less than 75,000 who are actively seeking investment in specific economic sectors.

The BC PNP Entrepreneur Immigration stream is for experienced business people who are looking to settle in British Columbia and both invest in and actively manage a business in the province. Let’s review the key features of BC’s newest business immigration program.

Community engagement is the key feature of the new Regional Entrepreneur Immigration Pilot program. Interested communities must register with the BC PNP program and identify three key economic sectors for which they are seeking investment and they must be actively involved with prospective entrepreneur immigrants. Prospective immigrants must connect with the community to arrange a visit to learn about not only investment opportunities but also local features and amenities of the area. For communities to participate in the BC PNP Regional Entrepreneur Pilot, they must have a population of less than 75,000 and be more than 30km distance beyond any municipality with a population of more than 75,000. After meeting with a prospective immigrant entrepreneur and determining that their proposed investment meets with their community criteria, the community makes a referral to the BC PNP office for an assessment of their application under the BC PNP Entrepreneur Immigration (EI) Regional Pilot program. While the minimum requirements for the program are as set out above, successful applicants should strive to surpass minimum thresholds.

As indicated above, a prospective entrepreneur immigrant must make at least one preliminary visit to the community in which they intend to both reside and invest and meet with local officials to discuss their proposed business venture. A regional entrepreneur applicant must also be able to demonstrate a personal net worth of $300,000, be able to make a minimum investment of $100,000, have past business experience in either owning/managing their own business for at least 3 years or being a senior manager of a business for at least 4 years (or a combination of both of these) within the past 5 years and demonstrate English or French language proficiency at a basic level at a Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) level 4.

The EI Regional Pilot program requires entrepreneur applicants to establish a new business in the referring community, maintain a minimum of 51% ownership and to create at least one full time job for a Canadian citizen or permanent resident. Prospective business immigrants to BC who wish to purchase an existing business, must apply under the BC PNP EI Base program.

After receiving a referral from the community, the entrepreneur immigrant submits an application to the BC PNP EI Regional Pilot program for assessment. If approved, the

applicant will enter into a performance agreement with the BC PNP office and must establish and operate their new business for at least 12 months and demonstrate that they met their proposed investment thresholds and have created at least one job for a Canadian citizen or permanent resident.

Upon demonstrating to the BC PNP officers that they have satisfied all the terms of the performance agreement, an approved applicant will be issued a nomination certificate from the Province of BC which will be the basis for being able to apply for permanent residence to Canada. The BC PNP EI Regional Pilot is a unique opportunity for both smaller communities across the province and prospective immigrants willing to settle and establish a business in rural BC.

The lower threshold for investment reflects the lower cost of living in BC’s smaller communities yet encourages economic stimulus throughout the province. A total of 31 BC communities are currently participating in the EI Regional pilot. Prospective entrepreneur applicants to the BC PNP EI Regional Pilot program can find the new program details at the BC PNP website:

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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