How to Open your Own Business in Canada - Ontario Entrepreneur Stream

One of the very first steps in the citizenship process is to look for employment opportunities in Canada for immigrants. One option for this is to become a business owner. In this post, our Ottawa and Orleans immigration physicians talk about how the Ontario Entrepreneur Stream can help you open up your own business in Canada and what the requirements are.

So you are looking to move to Canada and open a business. There are a number of different programs that can help you accomplish this based on different factors such as:

  • Where you would like your business to be located
  • The type of business you hope to open
  • The amount of money you have to invest
  • Previous business experience

If you are an entrepreneur looking to open a business in Canada you have the option to either start up an entirely new business or purchase a business that is already established. Based on a number of different factors you may be able to apply to one of the different provincial business programs.

Each province or territory will have guidelines set out based on its own specific needs. With these programs, new immigrants are able to pursue citizenship and immigration job opportunities as long as there is the intention to reside in the province or territory in which they apply.

If you are an entrepreneur looking for opportunities in Canada for immigrants and intend on residing in Ontario you may be able to immigrate through the Ontario Entrepreneur Stream which is operated by the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP).

The Ontario Entrepreneur Stream

Entrepreneurs looking to enter an Expression of interest to the OINP Entrepreneur Stream will need to score highly using the points system as well as meet the basic requirements listed below:

  • Intend to live in Ontario and be part of the daily functions of the business.
  • Have a minimum investment amount of:
    • $600,000 Canadian Dollars if operating a business in the Greater Toronto Area
    • $200,000 Canadian Dollars if operating a business outside of the Greater Toronto Area
    • $200,000 Canadian Dollars in any part of Ontario for businesses in the information and communications technology/digital communications sector
  • Have a minimum net worth of:
    • $800,000 Canadian Dollars if operating a business in the Greater Toronto Area
    • $ 400,000 Canadian Dollars if operating a business outside of the Greater Toronto Area
  • May nominate a business partner who will help establish the business
  • You must control at least 1/3 of the equity in the business
  • You must create job opportunities:
    • two full-time, permanent jobs for Canadian citizens or permanent residents if operating a business in the Greater Toronto Area
    • one full-time permanent job for a Canadian citizen or permanent resident if operating a business outside of the Greater Toronto Area
    • one full-time permanent job in any part of Ontario but the business is in the information and communications technology/digital communications sector
  • Must have at least 2 years experience in the past 5 years as either a business owner or senior manager
  • You must complete at least one business-related visit to Ontario in the 12-month period after registering an Expression of Interest in purchasing an established business
  • The applicants in this stream will be selected based on their overall score

Additional Requirements 

The following additional requirements apply if you will be purchasing an existing business in Ontario:

  • You must complete at least one business-related visit to Ontario in the 12-month period after registering an Expression of Interest in purchasing an established business
  • The business you have expressed interest in purchasing must have had the same owner during the 60-month period prior to your application
  • The business ownership must be fully transferred to you or your business partner
  • The previous owner cannot retain any type of ownership or shares in the company
  • At least 10% of your personal investment must go toward the improvement or expansion of the business in Ontario
  • You will need to keep all full-time, permanent jobs that were present prior to the transfer of ownership
  • The business must not have been previously owned/operated by current or former Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP) business stream nominees, including anyone who has received a certificate of nomination under the Entrepreneur Stream or the Opportunities Ontario Investor Component

The Two Parts of the Ontario Entrepreneur Stream Application Process

  1. The first part of the Ontario Entrepreneur Stream will require the submission of an Expression of Interest (EOI) to the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP). The applicant will then have their Expression of Interest scored. If the applicant is selected based on their overall score they will then be invited to submit their complete application to the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP). At this time the applicant will attend a mandatory interview with the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP) and sign a performance agreement which will contain an outline of the commitments that must be filled as well as the business plan.
  2. During the second stage, the applicants will need to provide proof that they have passed an approved English or French test with a minimum CLB level 4. The applicant will then be provided with a work permit support letter allowing them to obtain their initial work permit allowing them to enter Canada and begin running their business.  The applicant will then have 20 months to meet all of the requirements outlined in their agreement and business plan before submitting a final report to the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP). All applicants must reside in Canada at least 75% of the time. If the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP) deems the applicant to be successful they will provide them with their certificate allowing them to apply for permanent residence through Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

How an Entrepreneur’s EOI and Business Plan Are Scored

The two categories that the Ontario Entrepreneur Stream looks at are Human Capital Factors and Investment Factors. Each applicant can gain a score of up to 200 points. The factors which influence these points are:

  • Previous experience with business and management
  • Past experience in a high-growth business or export-trade business
  • Previous experience related to the industry that the applicant has expressed interest in
  • The highest completed level of education
  • The ability to speak English or French and how fluently
  • The applicant's personal net worth
  • The amount that the applicant is able to invest
  • How often the applicant has made business-related visits to Ontario
  • Description of the proposed business in Ontario
  • Market research on the proposed business in Ontario
  • Key sector and economic benefit to Ontario
  • How the investment amount will be used for the business
  • The expected location of the proposed business
  • The number of jobs that will be created with the business
  • The skill level of the jobs that will be created

What are some industries that are considered economic priorities for the Ontario Entrepreneur Stream?

There are certain industries that will be considered prior to any others based on the potential economic growth in Ontario. These are:

  • Aerospace
  • Automotive
  • Chemical and biochemical
  • Cleantech (Focus on Environmental Sustainability)
  • Financial Services
  • Food and Beverage Manufacturing
  • Forestry
  • Industrial Automation and Robotics
  • Information Technology
  • Life Sciences
  • Mining
  • Tourism

What types of businesses are not eligible for this program?

If you choose to take the Ontario Entrepreneur Stream to open your new business in Canada you should be aware that there are certain business types that will not be eligible.  These are:

  • Car Wash
  • Holding Companies
  • Laundromats
  • Pawnbrokers or Pawn Shops
  • Payday Loan Businesses
  • Scrap Metal Recycling
  • Tire Recycling
  • Producing, Distributing, or Selling Pornography or Sexually Explicit Products or Services
  • Business Previously Owned by an OINP Entrepreneur Stream Nominee or Former Investor Component of the Opportunities Ontario Program

Other Businesses That Are Ineligible

Greater Toronto Area businesses of the following types are also not eligible under the Ontario Entrepreneur Stream:

  • Existing Ontario Franchises (New Foreign Franchises Permitted)
  • Gas Stations
  • Bed & Breakfasts

Once you have met all of the requirements of the Ontario Entrepreneurs stream and apply for permanent residency you will have a new set of requirements to meet including completing an immigration medical exam. Speak with our team at Immigration Physician Ottawa to learn more about this process and what it entails and to schedule your Immigration Medical Examination.

If you are in need of your immigration medical exam to complete your application for permanent residency, please contact us at Immigration Physician Ottawa today to schedule an appointment.

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