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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.  

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