Top 3 ways for business owners to come to Canada

Although immigration laws are quite complex, there is a basic fact that you must first understand. There are two types of visas for those who wish to emigrate to Canada: a temporary visa and permanent residence visa.

Temporary visas grant a temporary authorization to enter and work in the country. You must renew the visa/permit to continue working here when the temporary visa/permit period expires. Different visas have different expiration times and renewal rules. In addition, there are limitations on who can come with you and whether they will have the right to work here. Examples of temporary business visas include Intra-Company Transfer, Significant Benefit and Owner/Operator LMIA-based business visas that we will discuss in detail below.

The biggest problem with the temporary business visa for entrepreneurs is that they are valid for a limited period of time and are often linked to the success of the business. Under a temporary work visa, it is often difficult to renew your business visa if your business fails or you decide you donʼt want to use your business anymore. Therefore, while temporary work visas are generally easier and faster than permanent residence visas, entrepreneurs who want to stay in Canada in the long term should consult with an immigration lawyer about their stay in Canada and plan ahead.

A permanent resident visa, in contrast, allows you to obtain a permanent status in Canada, so you can work permanently in Canada. These visas are a good option for entrepreneurs who want to settle in Canada in the long term and ultimately gain Canadian citizenship.

So, here are top 3 ways for business people to quickly enter the Canadian market.

Intra-Company Transferee Work Visa (ICT)

General: This visa worksbest for entrepreneurs who already have an existing business abroad (for at least 12 months) and want to run an affiliate or new business in Canada. This visa allows business owners to relocate to Canada and establish a new business in Canada. Important conditions for this type of visa include incorporation of a Canadian company, securement of office space (can belawyerʼs office), and a detailed business plan including financial forecasts and a personnel proposal. Upon fulfilling the conditions mentioned above, a one-year work permit would begranted, which would only be renewed if the business owner have proved theirorganizationʼs ability to be established in Canada.
An important condition of ICT visa is that the business must be active and operational within one year. While this will vary somewhat by company, it usually means hiring at least 1 new employee and having an office. It may be also required to show that the company is fulfilling contract orders, holding inventory, having a revenue stream, etc.

Summary of the ICT Program:

Who is eligible:

Business owners (or Managers/ key workers)  who have been working in a foreign company for at least 12 months prior to the application.

Program  requirements:

Establish a company in Canada. The Canadian company and the foreign company must be owned or controlled by the same person (s).

Initial  Investment:

No minimum investment amount, but the foreign company (or the owner) must show sufficient funds in his/her bank account to start its operations in Canada (we recommend to show around  CAD$100,000).

Required  Documents:

Foreign companyʼs registration &  ownership documents;

Proof of active engagement in business for  the foreign company (e.g. tax payments; bank statements; financial  statements; licenses, permits & office lease; insurance/wage payments for  employees, marketing material, contracts etc.);

Applicantʼs personal documents (educational  diplomas, employment letters, passport, marriage certificate, passport photo,  bank statement, proof of ownership of the company or proof of working for the  foreign company in a managerial capacity);

A business plan for the Canadian company (can be provided by a lawyer in Canada).

The validity of the initial visa:

1-year (for start-ups) work permit;

2 years of work permit for the established companies.

Conditions for  visa renewal:

Within the first year, the Canadian company must secure an office and hire at least 1 employee (Canadian citizen or permanent resident). The business must be operational (no profits are  required)

Family Members:

Family members can join the main applicant.  The spouse may get an open work permit and children may get study permits.  Children may attend a public school for free.

Access to health  care:

The applicant and the family members can get access to free health care during the validity of their visas.

Processing  times:

Generally, 1– 3 months (depending on the  documents collection)

Ability to stay  permanently:

Yes, applicants will have various options to stay in Canada permanently, depending on the applicantsʼ business & language skills.

Expenses:

Around $20,000 ($25,000 with the Canadian director services) in legal fees to apply for  the initial visas & permits (for the whole family);

Around $50,000 – minimum set up &  operation costs of the business in the first year. We suggest investing at least $150,000 - $200,000 into the new Canadian corporation so that yourapplication is strong.

Significant Benefit Work Visa

General: This visa (referred as the C-11 visa) works best for entrepreneurs who have unique businesses or know-how business ideas. This visa is also ideal for artists, sports people and investors, as you willneed to demonstrate how his/her business or intended project will be either socially, culturally or economically beneficial to Canada.
Important factors for this type of workvisa are uniqueness and viability of the indented business or project in Canada, and whether or not there will be a significant contribution to Canadathat is worthy enough to allow foreign businessmen to work in Canada.
Businessmen must present evidence of past personal accomplishments in business, such as unique business and demand for their products/services, number of offices, number ofworkers hired, amount of revenue generated, sales of a self-designed product, etc. or with evidence of public recognition, for example international interest, media coverage, important clientele, etc. For many years this type of work visa has been used by professional athletes, actors, dancers, and scientists, but recently it has become a viable option for accomplished businessmen.

Summary of the Significant Benefit Program:

Who is eligible:  

Business owners who have unique businesses,  providing unusual goods/services or know-how, and intend to expand their business in Canada.

Program  requirements:

Establish a company in Canada and demonstrate that the intended business would generate economic, social or cultural benefits to permanent residents or citizens of  Canada.

Initial  Investment:

No minimum investment amount, but the foreign company (or the owner) must show sufficient funds in his/her bank account to start its operations in Canada (we recommend around CAD$100,000).

Required  Documents:

Foreign companyʼs registration & ownership documents if any.

Proof of business accomplishment or  uniqueness of the business or know-how (e.g. patent applications, news  articles, sketches, marketing material, etc.);

Applicantʼs personal documents (educational  diplomas, employment letters, passport, marriage certificate, passport photo,  bank statements, proof of business experience & recognition – prizes,  news articles, international offers, etc.);

A business plan for the Canadian company (can be provided by a lawyer in Canada).

The validity of the  initial visa:

2-years, work permit, renewable unlimited times.

Conditions for  visa renewal:

Within the first 2 years, the Canadian company must make progress towards its goals and the business must be operational (no profits are required).

Family Members:

Family members can join the main applicant.  The spouse may get a work permit and children may get a study permit.  Children may attend a public school for free.  

Access to health  care:

The applicant and the family members can get access to free health care during the validity of their visas.

Processing  times:

Generally, 10 days - 1 month

Ability to stay  permanently:

Yes, applicants will have various options to stay in Canada permanently, depending on the applicantsʼ business &  language skills.

Expenses:

Around $20,000 ($25,000 with the Canadian director services) in legal fees to apply for  the initial visas & permits (for the whole family);

Around $50,000 – minimum set up &  operation costs of the business in the first year. We suggest investing at least $150,000 - $200,000 into the new Canadian corporation so that yourapplication is strong.

 

Owner/OperatorLMIA-based work visas

General: This work visas are for businessmen who wish to purchase a business or establish a new business in Canada and want to work in that business in a managerial position, often with the aim of immigrating permanently. If the work visa is issued to the foreign businessman, he/she will be required to become an employee of his/her Canadian company, which in turns mean that the company must pay the foreign worker a wage that meets the medium wage requirements.
This a two-step application. First, the foreign businessman must apply to the Employment and Skill Development Canada (ESDC) office to obtain a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). Second, once the businessmen receives a positive LMIA, he or she can obtain a work visa usually up to 2 years.  Once a work visa is obtained, the businessman will, in most cases, be in a position to apply for permanent residence through the Express Entry program. This type of work visa generates a substantially better chance for businessmen to permanently immigrate to Canada under the Express Entry.

Summary of the Owner-Operator Program:

Who is eligible:  

Business owners who have a controlling interest in the Canadian business (a sole or majority shareholder).

Program  requirements:

The key requirement is that the foreign business person owns a business in Canada in which he or she owns a  controlling interest of more than 50%.  Other requirements include:

1.       Funding  the business and maintain employment with a wage equal to or greater than the  median wage requirements for the position; and;

2.      Active management of the business (i.e. it cannot be a passive investment) in a  position that accords with the foreign businessmenʼs qualifications and experience.

3.      Employing at least one Canadian or permanent resident (ideally in the first year as described in the business plan).

Initial  Investment:

No minimum investment amount, but the Canadian company must show sufficient funds in its bank account to pay the salary of the foreign owner (we recommend around CAD$100,000).

Required  Documents:

Proof of ownership of the Canadian company by the foreign national (registration documents or Share Purchase Agreement).  

Proof of sufficient funds in the bank  account for the Canadian company;

Proof of genuineness of the business in  Canada (e.g. marketing material, website, agreements, office rent, invoices  etc.)

Applicantʼs personal documents (educational  diplomas, employment letters, passport, marriage certificate, passport photo,  bank statements, proof of business experience & managerial experience,  etc.);

A business plan for the Canadian company (can be provided by a lawyer in Canada).

The validity of the  initial visa:

1 or 2 years, depending on the nature of the business

Conditions for  visa renewal:

Payment to the foreign owner all the wages,  and meeting the employment conditions as stipulated in the initial application.

Family Members:

Family members can join the main applicant.  The spouse may get a work permit and children may get a study permit.  Children may attend a public school for free.  

Access to health  care:

The applicant and the family members can get access to free health care during the validity of their visas.

Processing  times:

Generally, 2 months

Ability to stay  permanently:

Strong chances to stay in Canada  permanently

Expenses:

Around $20,000 ($25,000 with the Canadian director services) in legal fees to apply for  the initial visas & permits (for the whole family);

Around $150,000 – minimum set up &  operation costs of the business in the first year. We suggest investing at least $150,000 - $200,000 into the new Canadian corporation so that yourapplication is strong.

Get in touch with us if you would like to benefit from any of the above-noted pathways to Canada. Sobirovs Law Firm specializes in bringing established foreign businesses and brands to Canada.