Settle Down in a Small Town: BC’s PNP Entrepreneur Immigration Regional Pilot Program Provides an Alternative Pathway for Business Immigrants - Immigration Lawyer Vancouver, Canada | Sas & Ing Immigration Law Centre

BlogSettle Down in a Small Town: BC’s PNP Entrepreneur Immigration Regional Pilot Program Provides an Alternative Pathway for Business Immigrants

14 March 2023

About the Author

In March of 2019, the Government of British Columbia launched the BC PNP Entrepreneur Immigration (EI) Regional Pilot as a way to attract business immigrants to the less densely populated regions of the province, beyond the Greater Vancouver region. While BC has always offered an immigration pathway for entrepreneurs, known as the EI Base Category, the EI Regional Pilot offers distinct advantages over other programs as it invites collaboration with the communities themselves to address their unique economic needs with a view of dispersing the benefits of economic migration more evenly across the province and has a lower investment threshold for applicants. This program represents a great option for business immigrants looking for an effective pathway to permanent residency who wish to live and work in British Columbia while fostering economic development and job creation in a smaller community.

The EI pilot program, which has been extended until March 31, 2024, defines a smaller community as having a population of less than 75,000 and located more than 30km away from a community with a population of greater than 75,000. Different from the EI Base Entrepreneur immigration stream, the 28 eligible communities participating in the PNP program play an active role in the selection of prospective applicants and decide which applications are ultimately referred to the province for nomination. As many of these smaller communities struggle with demographic challenges stemming from an aging population and the migration of young people to urban centres, the EI Regional program offers communities an opportunity to grow their workforce and stimulate their local economy through immigration.

Each participating community identifies specific economic targets based on their individual needs and development priorities of the region, defined by a six-digit North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code. Only the business proposals of prospective applicants that fully align with these targets and adhere to the NAICS codes will be considered for nomination. For a full list of the priority sectors for each region, along with a list of ineligible businesses, please visit the BC PNP website, here:

The EI Regional Pilot program seeks to attract potential investors and business owners, with lower personal net-worth and investment thresholds, reflecting the lower costs associated with running a business in these regions. Specifically, an applicant must have a minimum net-worth of $300,000 CAD and invest at least $100,000 CAD into the business. Similar to the EI Base Entrepreneur Stream, to qualify applicants must also possess entrepreneurial experience or post-secondary education, language proficiency with a minimum CLB score of 4, and ensure that their proposed business creates at least one full-time job for a Canadian or permanent resident.

If you are interested in starting a business in British Columbia but are hesitant about relocating to a smaller community, the EI Regional Pilot requires applicants to make an exploratory visit to the community, during which you will explain your business proposal and the municipal representative will inform you of the network of settlement and support services available to you. Afterwards, you can make a formal expression of interest. This gives applicants an opportunity to experience the community first-hand and determine whether the community is right for you and your family and for the representative to determine if your business aligns with their community goals.

Prior to registering, you must obtain a referral from the community of your choice. Registered profiles are then scored based upon your qualifications and business proposal, which takes approximately one month. The highest-scoring profiles will then receive an invitation to make an application to the BC PNP. Subsequently, you will have 120 days to complete and submit an application to the BC PNP. Following assessment, if your application is approved, you will be required to sign a Performance Agreement, obligating you to fulfill the terms of your proposed business plan, after which you will be issued a letter in support of a work permit. You may then apply to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) for a work permit so that you can commence business operations in the province. After running your business for a minimum of 12 months, you can apply for a provincial nomination for permanent residence if you have met the terms and conditions of the program and your Performance Agreement. Upon being nominated, applicants may apply for permanent residence to IRCC under the Provincial Nominee Class.

The EI Regional Pilot program provides an excellent opportunity for prospective business immigrants to apply for permanent residence and reside in British Columbia while supporting widespread economic development in less populated regions. Compared to other business immigration streams, the EI Regional Pilot works in collaboration with small-town communities across the province to address their unique economic needs while at the same time establishing a lower financial threshold for the entrepreneur, due to the lower cost of living in the eligible regional communities. During the mandatory exploratory visit, prospective entrepreneurs will be able to see first-hand why many BC residents choose to settle outside the major urban centres. If you are an experienced entrepreneur with an interest in settling in a smaller community in British Columbia, the EI Regional Pilot program may be the permanent residency pathway right for you. Contact an immigration lawyer to determine your eligibility for this program and to help maximize your chances of success.

About the Author

Sas and Ing Immigration Law Centre LLP

A partnership between Catherine Sas Law Corporation and Victor Ing Law Corporation

Copyright © sasanding 2021

About the Author