Business Immigrant Programs: Federal v PNP
By: Roland Luo & Chris Munroe
August 18, 2011
Over the past 15 years, there has been a big shift in Chinese immigration to
Canada from skilled workers to investors and business people. Potential business
immigrants should be aware of differences between the Federal Business Immigration
program and the Provincial Nominee Programs.
Federal Business Immigrant Program
The Federal Business Immigrant Program has two streams: entrepreneur and
investor. Both streams require applicants to have managed and controlled a qualifying
business for at least two years, and have minimum net worth requirements. The main
differences between the two streams are the significantly lower minimum net worth
requirement for entrepreneurs and the conditions entrepreneur applicants must meet
once approved and admitted as permanent residents. Failure to meet these
requirements may result in the applicants’ permanent resident status being revoked.
As of July 2011, the Federal Government has temporarily suspended processing
new entrepreneur stream applications in an effort to reduce accumulated backlog.
Applicants in the Federal Investor program have no post-admission
requirements, however they must make an $800,000 investment with the government.
This investment will be returned, without interest, after five years. Successful
permanent residents in the investor stream are also free to pursue whatever interests or
opportunities may arise once admitted.
It is important to keep in mind that a new limit was put into place for the Federal
Investor program. As of July 4, 2011, this new 700-case intake limit has already been
met so no more applicants will be accepted until July 1, 2012.
Provincial Nominee Programs
Fortunately, many provinces have Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP) which in
many cases can be a faster route for new business immigrants. Each province has
different streams in their PNP to meet the specific needs of their region.
In British Columbia there are three business immigrant PNP streams: Strategic
Projects, Business Skills, and Regional Business. All streams require successful
applicants to actively engage in the management of a business in B.C., sign
agreements with the provincial government outlining their business plan, and create a
number of jobs for Canadian citizens or permanent residents. Successful applicants are
only issued a Temporary Work Permit until the requirements of the performance
agreement are met (usually in about two years).
The Strategic Projects stream is best suited for foreign companies that wish to
establish a presence in B.C. because it allows successful applicant companies to bring
up to five executives who wish to become permanent residents.
The Regional Business and Business Skills streams are similar in many ways.
They are designed to allow a single applicant the opportunity to purchase or start a
business in the province. Both streams offer fast-track options whereby an applicant
can deposit $125,000 with the government in return for immediate permanent resident
status. The deposit is returned, without interest, once the terms of the performance
agreement are met. The Regional Business stream has a lower required net worth and
investment but the business established under this stream must be located outside of
the Vancouver and Abbotsford metropolitan areas.
Business immigrants should also keep in mind that not all business ventures
qualify for admittance under the B.C. PNP. The program is designed to specifically
address the needs of the BC economy, and as such only certain kinds of businesses
will be considered. These include: manufacturing and resource-extraction, tourism,
technology and research, and exporting goods and services.
British Columbia is a popular immigration destination because of its mild climate,
vibrant economy, and its business immigrant streams. British Columbia traditionally also
has a large and well-integrated Chinese community.
Alberta, on the other hand, does not offer any PNP business or investor
programs. For those who are unable to meet the B.C. PNP requirements, some other
provinces do offer attractive options. The Saskatchewan Entrepreneur PNP, for
example, only requires an investment of $150,000, a net worth of $300,000, and a
$75,000 deposit, making it a more affordable option to the B.C. programs. The only
problem is having to survive the prairie winter.