In recent years, Canada has been experiencing an upswing in business immigration from entrepreneurs, business owners, and self-employed individuals. If you are considering migrating to Canada from Nigeria then this article is for you. You will learn about official immigration programs for entrepreneurs and companies. We rely on our industry experience to provide you with the most up-to-date and exclusive information about business immigration to Canada.
Business Immigration Options from Nigeria
Nigerian entrepreneurs excited to launch or expand their businesses in Canada have many possible streams they can follow to achieve their immigration goals. Economic immigration accounted for 76% of all Nigerians who came to Canada in 2019.
There are four Canadian immigration programs for business owners and entrepreneurs from Nigeria to choose from. Each program allows applicants and their family members to become eligible for permanent residency.
- Intra Company Transfer (ICT) – this stream is the best fit for established Nigerian businesses that want to explore moving their teams and company to Canada via expansion. Businesses that are well-established domestically can use this pathway to move key members of their company abroad. Nigerian nationals in Canada on ICT permits become eligible for numerous paths to apply for permanent residency after just 1 year of employment in Canada.
- Entrepreneur Work Permits – this pathway is for relatively small businesses with big ideas! Entrepreneurs, experienced managers, and high net-worth individuals can start their own business in Canada, or invest in an existing one. Nigerian entrepreneurs holding this work permit have the option of transitioning to Canadian permanent residence after 1 year of running their Canadian business.
- Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP) – many Nigerian entrepreneurs find that provincial programs best serve their specific needs. Many Canadian provinces and territories offer pathways for entrepreneurs to invest, establish, and work in a specific region. For Nigerians settling in Canada, the most popular provincial pathways have remained the Ontario PNP and Alberta PNP.
- Owner-Operator LMIA Program – for many years this pathway was a very popular option for Nigerian business owners, investors, and entrepreneurs hoping to expand to Canada. After the substantial changes to the program made in April of 2021, Nigerian entrepreneurs and skilled workers have been able to apply via the standard LMIA pathway. However, many have switched their sights to the more streamlined Entrepreneur Work Permit program.
Pro Tips for Canada Visa Application in Nigeria
Even for the business-savvy, business immigration can be a complicated process. We’ve compiled some tips on how to apply for a Canadian visa in Nigeria and succeed in your business immigration application:
Include Extensive Financial Documentation
One of the most important requirements in any business immigration application is to demonstrate your financial capacity. The Canadian embassy in Lagos will very carefully review your application to assess your financial capacity. You must make a considerable effort to showcase sufficient liquid funds that you can use to support your business in Canada.
You can show that capacity by including the following in your application: personal and corporate bank statements, stock/shares that you hold, saving account statements, tax returns, and much more. Visa officers will look for whether you have set aside enough funds for your business immigration and for any extra funds to cover unexpected expenses or operational costs. You should aim to show an additional CAD $100,000 in addition to your initial business investment. It is also beneficial to show evidence of personal and non-liquid funds.
Include Evidence About Relevant Experience
For your business immigration to have a higher chance of approval you need to show evidence of relevant experience. Your relevant experience should be able to provide you with transferable skills to make you successful in your Canadian business. Canadian embassy in Nigeria will look for ample evidence of relevant education, managerial, and industry experience.
It is in your best interest to include reference letters, evidence of business ownership, diplomas of additional training or course completion certificates, and any other documentation that would show that you have acquired skills that would help you succeed in Canada.
Include Evidence of Commitment
It is often that foreign entrepreneurs and investors don’t want to invest funds in their potential Canadian business without knowing whether they would be granted immigration approval. As business immigration lawyers, we completely understand that kind of thinking. However, to succeed in business immigration, you must demonstrate your commitment to your Canadian business plan.
There must be concrete evidence that you have put your money at risk and have taken serious steps to the completion of your business plan. You can show that by investing in a Canadian business, completing a commercial lease agreement, buying equipment, hiring employees, etc. It would not be enough to only register your business in Canada and submit your business plan. You need to show real evidence that you have reasonably committed to the execution of your business plan.
Best Business in Canada for Immigrants from Nigeria
Nigerian businesses have historically been a boon to the Canadian economy and industry sectors. Nigeria has built an international reputation for its work in the sectors of oil and gas, maritime management, automotive and automation work, tech, and healthcare. As these businesses thrive and expand domestically, many professionals look to industry and manufacturing opportunities in Canada as their future business destination and a site for collaboration and innovation.
Nigeria and Canada share high levels of investment in the oil and gas industry. Nigerian companies with expertise in the sector find their acumen and experience warmly welcomed in Canada’s industry-friendly environment. Canada’s Deputy High Commissioner in Nigeria, Ryan Ward stated that:
“We’re doing a lot of work to promote innovation linkages between our countries, and are seeing increasing interest from Nigerian startups looking to grow in Canada…There is significant interest in both Nigeria and Canada in growing our mutual trade and investment relationship. Some of the sectors of greatest potential in Nigeria – particularly around the extractive industries – are areas where Canada has strong experience and leading technology solutions.”
Nigeria is known for its maritime management sector, and in fact, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has been recognized internationally as an industry leader. Maritime trade accounts for 95% of the vehicular means of Nigeria’s international trade. The sector holds a similar significance in Canada, where marine trade dominates as a means of domestic and international trade.
Maritime management and marine industries are experiencing high demand following the COVID-19 pandemic and continued supply chain shortages. There is an increased financial opportunity in this sector that only continues to grow.
Nigerians and Canadians both benefit from the strong trade relationship shared by these nations. Nigeria is Canada’s second-largest bilateral merchandise trading partner in Sub-Saharan Africa. In 2014, this relationship was further cemented by the creation and signing of a Foreign Investment Protection Agreement (FIPA). It is yet to be ratified. In 2021, Nigerian imports reached CAD$2.1 billion, with primary imports being mineral fuels, oils, and cocoa.
Our Experience & Statistics for SMEs & Investors Entering Canada from Nigeria
Nigerian business owners, companies, entrepreneurs, investors, and startups have been a large part of our practice since the beginning. We have advised a number of Nigerian applicants on Canadian immigration options. Below is a quick summary of facts that we have witnessed throughout the years:
- Average Investment Budget: Between CAD $150,000 – CAD $300,000
- Average Approval Rate: 94%
- Most Common Destinations: British Columbia, Ontario, Alberta
- Average Processing Times: 2-3 months
Types of business:
- Automotive (sales, repairs, import/export, etc.)
- Franchised businesses (retail, marketing, food industry and professional services)
- Trade (furniture, oil and gas, petroleum, textiles, cocoa, fake hair, medical supplies, ethnic food, etc.)
- Tech services & consulting
Top reasons for rejection:
- Insufficient funds
- The potential success of the business in Canada
Success Stories from Nigeria to Canada
Facts About Migrating to Canada from Nigeria
Nigeria and Canada have a more contemporary immigration history, dating to the 1970s, but in that period the two countries have established a thriving and exponentially growing relationship. In the years between 2015 and 2019, the number of Nigerians becoming permanent residents in Canada more than tripled – rising from 4,090 to a high of 12,600. Ontario and Alberta are the most popular destinations for immigrants that are planning on relocating to Canada from Nigeria.
Canada has a number of popular pathways for Nigerian business immigrants, whether they are starting up or simply expanding. Canadian businesses, industry professionals, and immigration programs all highlight the boon of Nigerian investment in Canada. Nigerian entrepreneurs are already reshaping and innovating Canadian industries.
Winnipegger Akeem Adebisi moved to Manitoba, Canada in 2015 with his family from Nigeria. Upon arrival, he noticed that many in his Winnipeg community, citizens and newcomers alike, were struggling with financial planning and loan repayment. In response, the entrepreneur developed AjoPro, a “social money” app that puts the financial power back in the community’s hands and saw CAD$2 million in its first year.
“If you look at the response that people have been giving us on our Google, our Google Play or our Android Apple Store, you will see tremendous joy,” he said.
“It’s a feeling that, you know, one can’t really describe: the fact that you are making people happy, you are changing lives, you’re making people feel like they belong.”
Another story of Nigerian-Canadian resiliency and brilliance comes from Christine Eruokwu, a St John, Newfoundland local who runs an online business selling clothing. She pledged to donate a uniform for schoolgirls in Nigeria and Côte d’Ivoire for every $50 spent in her store and additionally offered a section for patrons who simply wanted to donate.
The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent supply chain disruptions caused her business to struggle, rupturing her connection with her seamstress on-site in Nigeria and fighting to break even. Christine did what she does best and returned to the “why” of her business: to prioritize and empower girls to receive an education. She decided to alter her business model to provide blended options – printing African designs on Canadian fabrics, slowing processing times, and more. She plans to source African fabrics and patterns from inside Canada by connecting with African creators in the nation. In one media highlight on her business, Christine was quoted as saying the following:
“Very early, I always told myself that [sic] never give up until you’re sure that you can absolutely do this anymore…20 percent of new business shut down from the first to second year, and 45 percent shut down by the fifth year. I didn’t want to be one of those statistics. I decided to give it one more shot.”
She continued saying that what kept her going were her family and the girls. “I just got the report back, and, like, tears of joy were just streaming down my face,” she told Information Morning Saint John. “I think it was a great decision not to have sold the business at that time.” If she had, 300 girls in Nigeria and Côte d’Ivoire would not have school uniforms.
Canada is not a new destination for Nigerian talent and innovation, but it remains a fertile and inviting space for investors, business owners, and entrepreneurs. Whether your journey is just beginning or you have years of experience behind you, we are certain Canada can provide you with the foundation to launch your business.
Resources for Nigerians Immigrants in Canada
Canada has a thriving Nigerian community and benefits from continued good relations with the nation itself. Nigerians in Canada might benefit from accessing any number of existing resources, including:
Nigerian Canadian Association – The NCA is a non-profit organization addressing the needs of Nigerian Canadians and other immigrants to Canada. The community-based and -facing service provides support in areas of housing, education, health, social services, cultural services, economic support, and more.
Igbo Union of Canada – The Igbo Union of Canada is an organization for Igbo-speaking peoples and groups living in the GTA. It is established for the celebration of indigenous culture.
Nigeria High Commission – The High Commission in Ottawa offers “consular and visa services to Nigerian Citizens and intending visitors to Nigeria.
Nigerian Canadian Business Network – This organization is a networking group for Nigerian and Canadian businesses and professionals. Called “the voice of the Nigerian Business community in Canada”, the organization prides itself on personal and professional development and support.
Foreign Path – For those looking to study in Canada, a film created by Emmanuel Ilondior would be very inspirational and informational. in his movie he tells his story about how he moved to Canada as an international student in 2003, and his subsequent adjustment to life abroad.