In 2022, Canada positions itself as an attractive destination for many foreign entrepreneurs, investors, and start-ups. For this reason, the Canadian government has created various business visa pathways through which foreign residents can gain permanent residence in Canada. On this page, you will learn all the up-to-date information about Canadian business visa programs, requirements, costs, how to apply, processing times, and much more.
This page should not be confused with the business visitor visa that allows foreign entrepreneurs only to visit Canada on a business trip.
What is a Canadian Business Visa in 2022?
Canada offers several business visa programs that were created to attract different types of foreign investors. There is no one-fit-all program. Instead, various federal and provincial programs can be used to gain permanent residence for yourself and your family in Canada. Each program is tailored to attract a specific type of foreign investment and respond to the particular needs of business immigrants.
Once approved for a program, you can operate your business in Canada on a work permit, while your family will obtain open work permits (for spouses) and study permits (for school-age children). Then, depending on your business visa program, you and your family will become eligible for permanent residence in about 1 to 2 years.
2022 List of the Best Canadian Business Visa Programs
Currently, there are 3 federal and numerous provincial business visa programs in Canada. Below is a summary of each program:
Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) Program – this visa program is tailored toward businesses with existing operational foundations abroad that want to expand to Canada. Although the program’s name refers to “a transfer,” in reality, you are expanding your business to Canada while transferring yourself as an employee from your home country’s operations to your business’s new Canadian operations.
Start-Up Visa Program – this program is ideal for owners of established start-up companies with working concepts and some existing financial backing. This immigration program requires start-ups to obtain a letter of support or investment funds from a designated Canadian organization. For this reason, your start-up must already generate revenue and have a clear business plan, amongst many other requirements. This program is available to start-ups, and up to 5 founders and their families may become permanent residents through this program.
Entrepreneur Visa (C11) – if you want to purchase or invest in an existing Canadian business, this program is for you. This program is also suitable for foreign investors who want to start a new company in Canada. As with other programs, you and your family could become eligible for permanent residency later.
Provincial Nominee Program (PNPs) – provinces in Canada also have immigration programs for foreign entrepreneurs. There are over 17 business immigration streams available to choose from. Regarding business visas, PNPs are unsuitable for all business immigrants, and you may have an easier and more efficient business visa pathway through one of the above federal programs.
5 Canada Business Visa Requirements
Each business visa program has its requirements because each was developed to cater to a specific type of foreign investment. However, in general, there are top 5 common requirements:
- You should have anywhere between CAD $100,000 to CAD $350,000 to start your Canadian business;
- You must have experience and skills to be able to operate your business successfully;
- You must have an existing successful business or be willing to start or invest in one in Canada;
- You must have a well-thought-out, effective, and realistic business plan for your Canadian business;
- You must have extensive knowledge of immigration regulations and the Canadian immigration framework.
How to Apply for Business Visa in Canada
The application process for a business visa will vary depending on your business immigration program. It is crucial to consult with an experienced business immigration lawyer to select the most suitable pathway for you and your business. The general application process can be broken down into the following steps:
Step 1: Create or purchase a Canadian company;
Step 2: Develop a business plan (at any stage before work permit submission);
Step 3: Become employed by your Canadian company;
Step 4: Submit an application for a work permit along with appropriate applications for your family members;
Step 5: Operate your business;
Step 6: Apply for permanent residency after 1 or 2 years of business operations (depending on your business immigration program); and
Step 7: Become eligible for Canadian citizenship.
Visa Processing Time
It can take 1 – 8 months for your business visa application to be approved. The processing time largely depends on your business immigration program. While some federal programs can take 3 months on average, provincial programs usually take around 8 months. Please note that this processing time refers to processing the work permit that will allow you to work for your Canadian company.
Business Visa Costs
The business visa costs can range between CAD $2,140 to CAD $4,355. The low-end cost is if you are immigrating by yourself, and the higher-end one is if you are immigrating with your spouse and one child, then $230 per additional child. These costs only refer to application fees set by the government of Canada. In practice, you are likely to incur additional charges for legal services and procedural expenses, which can range depending on your situation. You can estimate your total cost of immigration using our Fee Calculator, specifically created to give you some certainty about the associated costs.
Frequently Asked Questions
Below you will find answers to the most asked questions about Canadian business visas:
How can I get a business visa for Canada?
To get a Canadian business visa, you must choose and apply to one of the investment immigration programs. Each program has its requirements and is tailored to a specific type of foreign investment. For this reason, it is crucial to consult a knowledgeable business immigration lawyer. Once approved, you will gain a work permit, your spouse will gain an open work permit, and your children will receive open work permits. After operating your business for 1 – 2 years, you will be eligible for permanent residency.
Can I get a business visa for Canada from India?
Yes, you can either get a short-term visitor visa with no permanent residency option or a business visa through business immigration with a permanent residency option. Indian nationals are eligible for various business immigration options, which allow them to expand their business from India to Canada, buy or invest in an existing Canadian business, or create a start-up, amongst other options. Remember that PR business visa requirements are more rigorous than visitor business visas because they are a long-term option for you and your family.
How much money is required for a business visa in Canada?
To get a business visa in Canada, you are not required to invest a specific minimum amount. Instead, the amount that will make you eligible for a business visa depends on your business type. One of the key elements in determining whether your investment amount is sufficient is whether it will be enough to make your Canadian business viable and operations – and this depends mainly on the business you are in. Thus, an investment of $150,000 may be enough to start an e-commerce business; however, if you were to create a delivery business, then you might need an investment that is more than $350,000.
Does owning a business in Canada give you a visa?
No, owning a business does not give you a visa in Canada. You gain no residency rights if you do so. However, if you own a business in Canada, you could become eligible for a business visa through business immigration programs. Under these programs, you could gain a work permit to work for your company and reside in Canada with your family. Additionally, after operating your business anywhere between 1 to 2 years, you and your family could become eligible for permanent residency.
Can I immigrate to Canada if I buy a business?
Buying an existing business in Canada is a viable business immigration option for foreign investors and entrepreneurs. You can either invest in an existing business, purchase an existing business or even purchase a franchise. Depending on your business and background, various immigration options will be available. You can immigrate to Canada through the C11 Entrepreneur work permit, Intra-company transfer, or another program. It is always beneficial to consult a knowledgeable business immigration lawyer to handle your immigration professionally.