Entrepreneur Immigration

This page was last updated on July 13, 2022.

The Entrepreneur Immigration (EI) stream of the BC Provincial Nominee Program (BC PNP) is a way for international entrepreneurs wishing to immigrate to British Columbia (B.C.) to set up businesses that support innovation and economic growth in the province.

Entrepreneur Immigration is a “temporary to permanent” immigration pathway. That means that if you are approved, you will initially come to B.C. as a temporary resident, and then apply to stay permanently once you have successfully started a business.

Categories for entrepreneurs:

Base Category

Eligibility

Please review our Entrepreneur Immigration - Base Category Program Guide to see the complete personal, business, investment and job requirements.

Personal requirements

  • personal net worth of at least CAD$600,000
  • business and/or management experience; if no business experience, must have the equivalent of a 2-year post-secondary diploma
  • basic English or French language skill equal to Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) level 4 or higher
  • have been lawfully admitted in the country where you currently live
  • have, or be eligible for, legal immigration status in Canada

Business, job and investment requirements

  • establish an eligible new business or buy and improve an existing business
  • make an eligible personal investment of at least CAD$200,000 in the business
  • create at least one new full-time job for a Canadian citizen or permanent resident

Fees

  • $300 registration fee
  • $3,500 application fee

Process

  1. Create a business proposal
  2. Register your proposal with the BC PNP
  3. Get a work permit
  4. Build your business
  5. BC PNP nomination
  6. Permanent Residence 

Create a comprehensive business proposal

The first step is to create a great business proposal that is well suited to your unique knowledge and experience and to the needs to the B.C. economy. You should do research to help you determine what kind of business to propose and which location in B.C. would be a good fit for your business. There are government resources to help you, such as the Starting a Small Business Guide.

You may also want to consider proposing a business that is related to one of the key sectors or significant economic benefits that are listed in the program guide. The Trade and Invest British Columbia website contains a wealth of information about the key industries and sectors as well as different regions and communities in B.C.

Register your proposal with us

Once you have created a business proposal, it will be time to reach out to the BC PNP. You will need to create a profile in BCPNP Online and complete the online registration. This includes providing a short business concept. There is a non-refundable registration fee of $300.

We reserve the right to limit the number of registrations that we will accept for the Entrepreneur Immigration stream to ensure we are able to meet our processing service standards.

The system will award points based on human capital factors - such as your education, experience, language - and economic factors such as the commercial viability of your proposal, the sector, the economic benefit and the region. The system will auto-calculate your section scores, based on the information you provide. The business concept section will be scored separately by the BC PNP staff within six weeks. You can find a breakdown of the scoring in the EI Base Program Guide.

If you meet the minimum requirements, you will enter the qualified pool. You stay in the pool for up to six months, or 180 days, or until you receive an invitation to apply. Registering does not guarantee that you will be invited to apply.

If you are invited to apply, a BC PNP-authorized accounting firm must review your personal net worth and verify your accumulation of funds. This review must happen before you submit your application. A list of authorized accounting firms and instructions will be included with your invitation to apply.

After you receive an invitation to apply, you will have four months to submit a complete application through BCPNP Online.

We may invite you to attend an interview. You will be asked about your business/work experience and your business plan.

We will assess your application according to the information you provide in both your application and interview.

If the application is approved, you will sign a performance agreement with the Province of B.C. Your performance agreement is unique to you. It is based on the information provided in your application, business plan and interview.

We may refuse your application if your application details differ from your registration information.

Get a work permit

If your application to the BC PNP is approved, we will give you a letter of support that you can use to apply for a work permit. This will enable you and your dependents to move to B.C. You have 90 days to submit your work permit application to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). After getting a work permit, you must arrive in B.C. within 12 months.

Build your business 

Once you arrive in B.C., you will have up to 20 months to:

  • implement your business plan
  • actively manage your business
  • meet all the performance expectations in your signed performance agreement

BC PNP Nomination

To be nominated, you must show that you have met the terms and conditions of your performance agreement. You do this by submitting a final report to the BC PNP between 18 and 20 months after you arrive in B.C.

You must also submit proof of language skill to show that your language ability meets a Canadian Language Benchmark Level 4.

We will review and evaluate your final report. When we are satisfied that you have met your performance agreement terms, you will be required to sign a Conditions of Nomination declaration.

Permanent Residence

After you sign the declaration, you will be issued a confirmation of nomination as a provincial nominee. You may then apply for permanent residence to IRCC under the Provincial Nominee Class.

Get started

Visit our Documents page for:

  • the Base Category Program Guide, which has complete program information, criteria, investment information, and full details of the scoring system and registration process.
  • the Post-Arrival Guide, which has information about work permits, nominations, and submitting your final report.

We use the information in registrations to rank, select and invite people who best meet the province’s economic needs. Periodically, we invite people to apply through BCPNP Online. Visit the Invitations to Apply page for more information about invitations.

The BC PNP reserves the right to make changes to the registration process without prior notice, including changes to the score grid, the minimum total score required in each section, how long registrations stay in the qualified pool, and the number and frequency of registrants invited to apply. 

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Regional Pilot

British Columbia welcomes entrepreneurs from around the world to discover the many business opportunities across all regions of the province. Entrepreneurs can open a business in one of B.C.’s smaller communities and experience first-hand why many choose to live outside of a large urban center for their families.

Through the Entrepreneur Immigration (EI) Regional Pilot, the Province offers an immigration pathway for enterprising individuals who are looking to start a new business in a small community and make B.C. their new home.

The EI Regional Pilot was introduced in March 2019 and has been extended to March 31, 2024.

Key features

B.C. communities are active participants 

The communities that enrolled for Phase 2 of the EI Regional Pilot play a key role. Each has identified the kinds of businesses that are a priority for their community. They are looking for entrepreneurs with experience managing these types of businesses.

Communities are also interested in learning more about your background and your proposed business. When you reach out to them, you may be asked to provide information so that their contact person can see if your proposal and/or business experience is a fit with their priorities.

Communities have implemented their own administrative process for the pilot, and some communities may charge a fee for services. We ask interested parties to respect and follow each community’s specific process. Please contact the community using only the contact details listed in each profile.

Prospective candidates must visit the community

If a community sees your business proposal as a possible match with their priorities, they may invite you for an in-person exploratory visit to their community and meet with their contact person. The visit will also give you first-hand experience of the location you are proposing for your business, and you will also be able to assess whether the lifestyle is a fit for your family.

The community contact will be interested in learning more about your proposal and can provide information about relevant supports and services to help you decide whether this community is the right place for your business.
The decision to invite a candidate for an exploratory visit is at the discretion of the community.

A community referral is required

After your visit to the community, if you feel that it is the right place for your business and your family, you may request a referral from the community. A referral allows entrepreneur candidates to register and apply for the EI Regional Pilot.

The decision to issue a referral is at the discretion of the community.

Requirements

The EI - Regional Pilot is designed for foreign entrepreneurs who are interested in starting a new business in a smaller community. If you want to settle in one that is not participating in the EI Regional Pilot, or purchase an existing business, you are not eligible for this category.

Before considering the EI Regional Pilot, become familiar with the program criteria and check your eligibility. To qualify, you must:

  • establish an eligible new business aligned with the priorities of the referring community
  • show business and/or management experience
  • have a personal net worth of at least CAD$300,000
  • make an eligible personal investment of at least CAD$100,000 in the business
  • create at least one new full-time job for a Canadian citizen or permanent resident
  • demonstrate a minimum language proficiency of Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 4
  • have, or be eligible for, legal immigration status in Canada
  • have been lawfully admitted in the country where you currently live

If you meet the criteria and have the experience that the community is seeking, you can connect directly with the designated community contact identified in the community’s profile page to learn more.
 
You can view the full list of participating communities below and on the community profiles pages.

Map of B.C. development regions


regional-maps-orig-bc-1500_fromBCGov.jpg

Full list of participating communities by development region

 

Cariboo

100 Mile House
Mackenzie
Prince George
Quesnel
Williams Lake

 

Kootenay

Castlegar & Central Kootenay (Areas I & J)
Columbia Valley & East Kootenay
Cranbrook
Kimberley
Nelson & Central Kootenay (Areas E & F)
Rossland
Trail
West Boundary (Area E)


Mainland / Southwest 

Lillooet
 

North Coast

Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine (Areas B, C, E)
Terrace

 

Northeast

Fort St. John
Tumbler Ridge

 

Thompson-Okanagan

Chase
Clinton
Penticton
Salmon Arm
Vernon

 

Vancouver Island/Coast

Campbell River
Comox
Mount Waddington
Port Alberni
Powell River

 

More information

For more information about the EI Regional Pilot, please email us at En.Imm@gov.bc.ca.

Visit our documents page to find:
  • The BC PNP Entrepreneur Immigration Regional Pilot Program Guide, for complete, up-to-date program information and requirements for the EI Regional Pilot.
  • The BC PNP Entrepreneur Immigration Program Guide, for complete, up-to-date program information and requirements for the EI Base category.

To receive timely EI - Regional Pilot and other immigration program news, notice of upcoming webinars, and our quarterly newsletter, sign up for email updates.

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Strategic Projects

The Strategic Projects category of the BC Provincial Nominee Program (BC PNP) Entrepreneur Immigration stream is for foreign corporations who have identified strategic investment opportunities in B.C. to establish operations that are integral to the growth and expansion of their core business.

This category enables foreign corporations to permanently transfer key staff with the corporate knowledge and expertise to B.C. The foreign corporation may apply for provincial nomination to support the permanent residence of up to five of its current senior employees. These employees will actively manage the B.C. operation.

Is my company eligible?

To be eligible, the foreign corporation must meet the following requirements:

  • be well-established and in good financial standing
  • demonstrate investment readiness and capacity for international expansion into B.C.
  • provide significant economic benefit to the province by making a high value investment in B.C.

Are the key staff members eligible?

To be eligible as key staff, the individual(s) must meet the following requirements:

  • be current senior employees of the foreign corporation who have the qualifications and experience that are  essential to establish and operate the business in B.C.
  • is being appointed to an executive or senior managerial position, or has specialized knowledge essential to the proposed B.C. operation
  • will be employed in a permanent full-time capacity at the B.C. operation
  • is offered a wage commensurate with his/her expertise and consistent with industry and corporate compensation structures
We will not accept applications of key staff members who:
  • are prohibited from entering Canada
  • have not been lawfully admitted in the country of current residence
  • are in Canada and are out of status
    • an individual whose status has expired, and they cannot demonstrate they have applied for restoration of status within the 90-day eligibility period, will be considered out of status
  • are working in Canada without authorization
  • have an unresolved refugee claim in Canada
  • are under a removal order in or outside Canada 

What are the requirements?

The foreign corporation must:

  • make a minimum equity investment of at least $500,000 directed toward the corporation’s operations in B.C.
  • establish new or purchase and expand an eligible business in B.C.
  • create at least three new full-time equivalent jobs for Canadian citizens or permanent residents for each foreign key staff member proposed (to a maximum of five key staff)

Which types of businesses are ineligible?

The following types of businesses are ineligible under the BC PNP:

  • an immigration-linked investment scheme pursuant to Provincial Immigration Programs Regulation section 6(e) and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR) section 87(5)(b) and as defined in IRPR 87(9)
  • any business where the terms of investment include a redemption option pursuant to IRPR 87(6)(d)
  • any business that may be a passive investment pursuant to IRPR 87(6)(c)
  • bed and breakfasts, hobby farms and home-based businesses
  • payday loan, cheque cashing, money changing and cash machine businesses
  • pawnbrokers
  • tanning salons
  • DVD rental stores
  • coin-operated laundries
  • automated car wash operations
  • scrap metal recycling
  • businesses selling used goods (excluding businesses that provide value-added services such as repairs, refurbishing or recycling)
  • real estate development/brokerage, insurance brokerage or business brokerage
  • businesses involved in producing, distributing or selling pornography or sexually explicit products or services, or providing sexually oriented services
  • any other type of business that by association would tend to bring the BC PNP or the Government of British Columbia into disrepute

What is the application process?

Step 1: Make an exploratory visit to B.C.

We encourage senior executives representing the company to visit B.C. to explore and learn more about opportunities and the local business environment.

Step 2: Discuss your proposal

Before applying to the Strategic Projects category, the company must first contact the BC PNP to discuss the business proposal. 

Step 3: Register

The company must register expressing the company’s interest to apply. As part of the registration, the company will be asked to provide the following:

  • company details
  • proposed investment in B.C.
  • ​proposed key staff qualifications

Please contact the BC PNP for further details on submitting a Strategic Projects registration.
There is a registration processing fee of $300.

Step 4: Invitation to apply

We will review the registration and determine if the foreign corporation is eligible to apply.

If invited to apply, the company must submit a full application within 90 days. The invitation to apply will expire after 90 days; the corporation may choose to submit a new registration. 

Step 5: Applying to the BC PNP

The company must submit all the required forms as a single complete application package including key staff forms and other supporting documentation. The application processing fee is $3,500 for the company and an additional $1,000 for each key staff proposed.

We will review the application for completeness. We may ask the foreign corporation clarifying questions and request additional documentation. As part of the application assessment process, each key staff member may be invited to attend an in-person interview at the BC PNP offices in Vancouver.

A decision will be made regarding the application and communicated to the company.

Step 6: Signing Performance Agreements

If the application is approved, the company’s designated signing authority signs a corporate Performance Agreement with the Province of B.C. Each approved key staff member will also be required to sign a Performance Agreement. 

Step 7: Work Permit & Arrival Report

We will issue a work permit support letter to each approved key staff member so they can apply to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) for a work permit. This work permit support letter is valid for 90 days.

After signing their Performance Agreement, each key staff must arrive in B.C. with their valid work permit within 180 days (6 months) from the date of issuance of their work permit support letter.

Within 60 days (2 months) of arriving in B.C., each key staff must submit a completed arrival report form to the BC PNP.

Step 8: Business Establishment & Nomination

After fulfilling its obligations under the executed Performance Agreement, the foreign corporation must submit a final report to the BC PNP to demonstrate how the company has met the terms and conditions of the Performance Agreement. We will review the report, and may conduct site visits or interviews to verify information.

If we determine that the company has met the terms and conditions of the Performance Agreement, each key staff member who has satisfied the terms and conditions of his/her Performance Agreement will be nominated for permanent residence.

Step 9: Apply for Permanent Residence

Each key staff must submit their application for permanent residence to IRCC within 180 days from the date of nomination.

For more information

For more information (i.e. regarding using an immigration representative, submitting a request for review, nomination cancellation details, etc.), please contact us at en.imm@gov.bc.ca.

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Note: This website provides a high-level overview of the program only. Please refer to the guides for the most current and complete information. Check back often to ensure you have the latest version.