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Business Immigration: Canada Is Rich With Opportunities For Business Succession

by David Cohen

A significant proportion of the Canadian economy is made up of small and medium businesses—Statistics Canada reports that more than three quarters of businesses in Canada are firms with fewer than 10 employees. Many of these businesses are family-owned, and are faced with the reality that there is nobody to pass the successful business on to upon retirement. These businesses present a prime opportunity for individuals who wish to immigrate to Canada as Entrepreneurs.

According to a recent report in a leading Canadian newspaper, family-owned businesses are facing a succession-planning crisis, which is to say that the owners and operators who are close to retirement have not sufficiently planned for the future of the business after they leave it. In some cases, the owners have no family members to pass the firms to, and in others the family members have chosen to establish careers separate from the family enterprise.

Canadian immigration programs for Entrepreneurs exist at both the federal and provincial levels, and Canada’s existing, successful businesses not only provide a path to Canadian immigration, but a future doing business in Canada as well.

To immigrate to Canada under the federal Entrepreneur program, an applicant must have a minimum net worth of CDN 300,000 and at least two years of business experience (ownership and management of a qualifying business) within the five years prior to the time of application.

The province of Quebec, which is responsible for selecting its own immigrants, has an Immigrant Entrepreneur program with a similar net worth and business background requirement.

As well, numerous provinces have Entrepreneur streams or categories under their Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP). For example, the Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program (SINP) comprises multiple entrepreneur streams with net worth requirements ranging from CDN 300,000 to CDN 500,000 and New Brunswick’s PNP has a net worth requirement that is dependent on an individual’s business plan. British Columbia, Manitoba, Newfoundland and Labrador, the Yukon territory and the Northwest Territories also have Entrepreneur streams under their Nominee Programs.

Under all of the Canadian immigration programs for Entrepreneurs, applicants must agree to implement a business plan upon obtaining permanent resident status in Canada, whether this plan involves setting up a new business or investing in and managing an existing one.

Canadian permanent residents who have immigrated under an Entrepreneur program must meet with immigration officials regularly during their first few years (the time period differs by program) to show they are satisfying the requirements of their program.

About The Author

David Cohen is senior partner at the Canadian immigration law firm of Campbell Cohen and has been practicing Canadian immigration law for almost 30 years. He graduated from Montreal's McGill University, Faculty of Law, and is a member of the Quebec and Canadian Bar Associations as well as the American Immigration Lawyers Association. Most recently, he was appointed a governor of the Fondation du Barreau du Québec. David Cohen is managing editor of the Canadian Immigration Newsletter, a monthly publication with readership of more than 150,000 subscribers. He also moderates a web-based public discussion forum, which covers topics relating to Canadian migration and settlement.

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.