November 29th 2021 – The landscape of business immigration in Canada can often be confusing due to the variety of programs available. While only one business immigration program – the Startup Visa program – is currently available at the federal level, several provinces also manage their own immigration schemes for entrepreneurs under various Provincial Nominee Programs, commonly known as PNP.

Although the specific requirements of these provincial programs vary greatly, it is possible to draw a comparison between the common aspects of these programs.

Residence requirements

The first clear difference between the Startup Visa program and the PNP Entrepreneurs is requirement to invest in a specific location.

PNP Entrepreneur require applicants to invest and live in the province where they apply for the duration of the application process. Several programs require applicants to spend a minimum of 75% of this time physically present in that province. In addition, applicants must have the firm intention to permanently settle in the nominating province.

In contrast, the Startup Visa program is managed directly by the federal government and allows applicants to invest and live anywhere in Canada – with the exception of the province of Quebec, which is ruled by a different immigration framework.

Investment requirements

Both PNP entrepreneur programs and the Startup Visa program require applicants to invest in a new business in Canada. However, the requirements that these business investments must meet are very different.

Applicants under PNPs must reach minimum investment requirements, which vary considerably from one province to another, and at times even between different areas within the same province. The minimum amount required can range anywhere from CAD$ 150,000 in New Brunswick to CAD$ 600,000 in the Greater Toronto area. On the other hand, the Startup Visa program does not have any specific requirements regarding the amount of investment.

However, whereas the PNP programs have only basic restrictions on the type of business created, the Startup Visa program requires applicants to specifically invest in a business that is found to be both innovative and competitive on a global scale. In addition, applicants under the Startup Visa must gain the support of a designated organization, which can be a business incubator, venture capital fund, or angel investor.

Path to permanent residence

Applicants under Provincial Nominee Programs typically must first spend up to two years in Canada under a work permit, during which period they must begin implementing their business plan. They must then submit a report showing how their business efforts have met the term of their performance agreement. Only then will they be formally nominated by the province and able to start the process to apply for permanent residence.

Applicants under the Startup Visa program, on the other hand, may directly apply for permanent residence from the moment they garner support from a business incubator, venture capital fund, or angel investor group. Applicants may optionally apply for a work permit to expedite their arrival to Canada and to begin their business activities while their permanent residence application is being processed.

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