Entrepreneur Immigration - Regional Pilot

The BC Provincial Nominee Program (BC PNP) Entrepreneur Immigration (EI) Regional Pilot supports regional communities to attract entrepreneurs with a desire to start businesses, create jobs and settle in regional centres, and contribute to their local economy.

Why a Regional Pilot?

Many regional communities across B.C. are facing a number of challenges related to their changing human capital needs. Although across B.C. the fertility rates are below replacement levels and the population is aging, regions are facing the additional challenge that young people are leaving for larger centers to find opportunities. This pilot is designed to support shared prosperity across the province.
The EI Regional Pilot is a partnership between communities and the province, focused on attracting motivated entrepreneurs from around the world to establish new businesses in regional communities to meet the community’s specific needs. These new businesses will create jobs in priority sectors creating exciting new opportunities that keep people in the community.
As each community has the best knowledge of their local business environment, they are perfectly situated to identify the business opportunities and settlement support services that are available to the newly arrived entrepreneurs, therefore giving them a good start in their journey to building successful businesses and grow the local economy.
The EI Regional Pilot is designed to attract and support entrepreneurs with a desire to start a new business and settle in regional communities. Thus, the personal net worth and investment criteria have been reduced. This is reflective of the lower costs to start a business and settle in communities with less dense populations and the intent of capturing a new, more inclusive market segment not currently targeted by the Entrepreneur Immigration category of the program.
In addition, the requirements for community support ensure that immigrant entrepreneurs can flourish and succeed in the communities where they reside and establish their businesses.

What does the EI Regional Pilot look like?

Key features of the EI Regional Pilot:
  • Active community role – participating communities will have a key role in the process. They will be actively involved in attracting the foreign entrepreneur for their community. Working with their local partners, they will also use their community network to support the settlement of the foreign entrepreneur in the community.
  • BC PNP referrals - participating communities can refer foreign entrepreneurs to the BC PNP. The foreign entrepreneur must have visited the community and their proposed business is aligned with the economic priorities and provides significant economic benefit to the community.
  • Community concierge – participating communities can contact the program to access the services of a dedicated community concierge who can support communities with their immigration needs.
  • Invitations & prioritization – foreign entrepreneurs who are referred by a participating community can register in a separate pool for the pilot. Registrations are scored and if invited, applications are prioritized. Invitations are issued at least monthly.

Community eligibility

To be eligible for the EI Regional Pilot, communities must have a population of fewer than 75,000, be located beyond 30 km of a municipality of more than 75,000, and demonstrate their capacity to support foreign entrepreneurs through an established network of settlement and business support agencies.
This initiative is intended to maximize the economic benefits of immigration to B.C. to support shared prosperity across the province.
Immigration and pilot-specific training will be offered to community representatives and must be completed before confirming the enrollment. Communities will then be in a position to host exploratory visits and issue referrals for potential applicants.

For a list of enrolled communities, please see the EI Regional Pilot - community profiles page.  

Applicant criteria

The criteria targets entrepreneurs with a desire to start a business and settle in regional communities (populations of fewer than 75,000): 
  • exploratory community visit
  • minimum of $100,000 in eligible business investments
  • minimum personal net worth of $300,000
  • minimum of 51% ownership
  • minimum of 1 new job created
As part of the exploratory visit, the foreign entrepreneur will present their business idea to the community’s designated contact person. The contact person will prepare a referral form for submission as part of the applicant’s BC PNP registration.

The Regional Pilot is intended for entrepreneurs who are starting a new business. Entrepreneurs wishing to purchase existing businesses are able to register/apply under the Entrepreneur Immigration category of the program.

Pilot timeline

The pilot will be delivered for an initial two year period, and will be carefully monitored to assess the community’s capacity and its impact, ensuring continued integrity both for the BC PNP and communities.

In early 2019, registration will open for applicants. Please check back in March 2019 for further details.

More information

For more information about the Entrepreneur Immigration - Regional Pilot, please contact us:

Entrepreneurs: En.Imm@gov.bc.ca
Communities: PNPConcierge@gov.bc.ca

Refer to our BC PNP Entrepreneur Immigration Pocket Guide (PDF, 1MB) for high-level information about our program criteria.

For a list of enrolled communities, please see the EI Regional Pilot - community profiles page.