Can You Buy a Business in Canada as a Non-Citizen or Foreigner?

There are multiple options available for foreign business people interested in buying or starting a business in Canada. Under Canada’s federal and provincial laws governing corporations, a non-resident or foreign entrepreneur or investor may register a company in Canada from scratch, or by setting up a branch office or creating a subsidiary company in Canada. However, first, you will have to decide whether you wish to start a business in Canada by immigrating or without living in Canada.

Most options for buying a business in Canada for non-citizens may also include routes for temporary or permanent residence.

First, you may be eligible for Canada’s Start-Up Visa program with the support of a designated investor organization or venture capital fund. Under this program, you will also need to have a qualifying business, be proficient in English or French, and have enough funds to support yourself and your family when you move to Canada.

Second, if you already have an established business you wish to expand into Canada, each individual province or territory has its own registration procedures and required fees controlling extra-provincial incorporation. If you wish to expand into multiple provinces, you will need to contact that province’s provincial registry and meet each province’s requirements for the extra-provincial corporation. The extra-provincial incorporation process will generally require you to obtain an Agent for Service who is either an individual at least 18 years old and a resident of that province or a corporation with its registered office in the province.

However, if you are not a Canadian citizen and you do not already have your own established business in your country, there are still options to open a business in Canada. Owner-operator policies offer a temporary work visa to foreign investors and entrepreneurs who want to buy an established business in Canada or start their own business. The entrepreneur or investor can then apply for a work visa as an owner or management-level employee under Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) program.

Once a non-citizen has identified a Canadian business to purchase, a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) must be submitted together with a suitable business plan. To be suitable, this business plan must demonstrate that the purchase of the business by a foreign national will result in the retention or creation of Canadian jobs, among other conditions.

After the foreign investor submits the assessment and business plan and a positive LMIA opinion has been issued, the foreign entrepreneur may then apply for a renewable temporary work permit. After arriving in Canada on the temporary work permit, the non-citizen may then begin applying for permanent residence as a federal skilled worker under Canada’s Express Entry program or under a provincial immigration program. Importantly, this process may take two to three months (depending on where the applicant is applying from) to submit the LMIA and complete the application process to receive a work permit.

Experienced business immigration lawyers like the team at Sobirovs Law Firm can help assist you in discussing the potential options for buying a business in Canada as a non-citizen or foreigner. Our team will walk you through the process and Canada’s corporate immigration system to successfully buy a business in Canada.