Canada is one of the world's wealthiest nations, with a high per-capita income and also one of the world's highly developed countries. Canada has a diversified economy that is reliant upon its abundant natural resources and upon trade. With the eighth-highest Human Development Index globally, Canada has one of the highest standards of living in the world. As a consequence of that Canada is often found desirable to reside and work.
There are currently three federal business programs: Investor, Entrepreneur and Self-Employed. The Self-Employed program concerns only those who are specialized in the areas of culture, arts and sports and who intend to immigrate to Canada in order to pursue their self-employment activities. Such program has few applicants however processing often lasts longer to those programs which are chosen for trade related matters. The Entrepreneur Program concerns people who intend to immigrate to Canada in order to pursue a business plan such as establishing a business etc. The process is relatively slow and it may take five or six years to complete.
The current federal investor program was introduced in December 2010. Unfortunately, the quota for the federal investor program for 2011 has been filled and the program does not accept new applications. The program would accept new applications only starting July 1, 2012. Conditions that are sought by the Government of Canada for the Federal Program are stated below:
Business experience: In respect of an investor, business experience means the management of a qualifying business and the control of a percentage of equity of a qualifying business for at least two years in the period beginning five years before the date of application; or (if the person is only a CEO or a Senior Manager of a business without being an owner) the management of at least five full-time job equivalents per year in a business for at least two years in the period beginning five years before the date of application. For the definition of the qualifying business, the parameters will be volume of sales, net income, number of employees, equity.
Assets: Minimum 1.6 million CAD consisting of bank deposits, real estate properties, stock market investments and equity in the business is sought.
Investment: Applicant shall commit to have an investment of CAD 800,000 for a period of five years. The investment is guaranteed by the Canadian government and refunded in full after five years, without any interest. For those who do not want to deposit such a big sum for five years from their own assets, there is the alternative of a financial loan. Banks designated by the government can lend the money for the investment under 5% interest a year, which adds up to a total interest value of $200,000 (cost of investment) for five years.
Please note that the investment has to be paid at the very end of the application process, only when the application is approved and the immigrant visa is ready to be issued. Therefore the investor does not take any risks by depositing the money.
Conditions after immigration to Canada: The investor has no obligation to open a business in Canada or to reside in a certain province of Canada. He and his family can reside in any province of Canada and can pursue any business interests of his choice. Of course, the immigrant has to observe the regular requirements of a permanent resident of Canada. In order to maintain his permanent resident status, he must physically reside in Canada at least two years (720 days) out of five years. Once he obtains Canadian citizenship, he may become a non-resident for the rest of his life while maintaining his Canadian citizenship forever.
There are also provincial business immigration programs in Canada. All provincial programs have two stages:
- The process begins with the submission of an application to the immigration department of the province. The applicant is invited to make an exploratory visit to the province and have an interview with a local immigration officer. If approved, he is asked to deposit a certain sum of money with the provincial government, after which he is issued a Certificate of Nomination. The nomination means that the applicant has been selected for immigration under the provincial program.
- The province cannot check the background of the applicant. It is the federal visa office in his country that is making the checks. The applicant will submit an application for permanent residence to the federal authorities (in the case of Turkey to the Canadian Embassy in Ankara). The visa office will check the background of the applicant, his police records and will ask for a medical examination of him and his family. At the end, the immigrant visa will be issued by the Embassy.
The provincial process takes usually about eight months. The second stage (the background checks regarding the investor mentioned above made locally at the Embassy) takes around one year or less. There are five active business provincial programs in Canada.
Manitoba: A province in the centre of Canada - offers an Entrepreneurial Program. To qualify for the program, interested applicants must have minimum verifiable personal net worth of CAD 350,000 and demonstrated business ownership experience or a minimum of three years experience in a senior management role of a successful company. The applicant must also be prepared to conduct an Exploratory Visit to Manitoba, have an interview with a provincial officer and submit a business plan. If the application for nomination is approved by Manitoba, the applicant will be required to make a CAD 75,000 deposit with the Government of Manitoba, guaranteeing that he will live in Manitoba and start or purchase of a business in Manitoba within two years of obtaining the permanent resident visa and landing in Manitoba. The deposit will be refunded without interest when the investment described in their application is made, the business is operational and the investor is living in Manitoba.
Saskatchewan: A province in the Western part of Canada offers an Entrepreneurial Program similar to Manitoba. The applicant must have a minimum net worth of CAD 300,000 that can be verified. He must have minimum three years entrepreneurial or relevant business management experience. An interview and a visit to the province are not usually required. If approved for nomination, the applicant will be required to make a CAD 75,000 deposit with the provincial government. The deposit will be returned when the applicant immigrates to the province and opens a business for at least $150,000. In order to get his money back, he must live in the province and be involved in the day-to-day management of the business.
New Brunswick: A province on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean has an Entrepreneurial Program that requires minimum verifiable personal net worth of CAD 300,000, an exploratory visit and an interview in the province, and a deposit of CAD 75,000 with the government of New Brunswick once the application is approved. The immigrant is expected to open a business in the province with a minimum investment of CAD 125,000 within two years after landing, in which case the deposit of $75,000 is refunded.
Prince Edward Island: A province on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean has an Entrepreneurial Program based on a minimum verifiable personal net worth of CAD 400,000, an exploratory visit and an interview, a deposit of CAD 100,000 in escrow with the provincial government and the opening of a business in the province with an investment of minimum CAD 200,000. The money deposited in escrow are refunded once a business was created and the immigrant resides in the province. Prince Edward Island immigration program requires the candidates to take an English language test IELTS, which can be taken in several cities in Turkey, as a condition for the application. The acceptable level of English is very low and should be accessible with basic knowledge of the language.
Quebec: Quebec is the only province that is offering an Investor Program similar to the Federal Investor Program. The conditions are similar with the Federal Investor Program (minimum CAD 1.6 million dollar assets, a passive investment of CAD 800,000 for five years that can be financed by a bank for CAD 200,000). The application is first made to Montreal and an interview in Montreal is usually required. If the provincial application is approved (it may take up to one year) an application for permanent residence has to be submitted to the Canadian Embassy in Ankara (approximately one year).
Therefore, all of the above provincial business programs except Quebec, are Entrepreneurial. Unless the Federal Investor Program, which is based on a passive investment, the provincial programs require establishing a business in the province and the active management of the business, which means residing in the province (practically for at least one year in order to receive back the initial CAD 75,000 or CAD 100,000 investments). The advantages of the provincial programs are the small amount of net worth required (CAD 300,000 to CAD 400,000) and the relatively small investment in a business (CAD 125,000 to CAD 200,000). All of the above mentioned immigration programs have distinctness's. Applicant shall prefer a program that is more suitable in accordance with his/her choice of state, duration of the application process, and investment fees.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.