Canadian Business Visa

Owner-Operator Business Visa Program

Entrepreneur writing business plan

Foreign investor entrepreneurs wishing to relocate to Canada, should consider acquiring an established business or launch a new business in Canada, and apply for a work visa as a management employee. Revised federal policies governing new business owners under the Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) program is gaining considerable attention. After a period of less than 1 year, successful temporary work visa holders can transition to permanent residence under a provincial program or as a federal skilled worker under Express Entry.

The rules are complex. A foreign employee-investor can create a new business, acquire an existing Canadian business, or invest substantially in an enterprise and qualify for a work permit as a TFW. The acquisition of the business by the foreign national must, among other conditions discussed below, result in the creation or retention of Canadian jobs and there must be knowledge transfer to Canadians.

General Qualifications of Owner-Operator

To qualify for Owner-Operator classification, the business investor must:

  • Have invested, or be actively in the process of investing, a substantial amount of capital in a bona fide enterprise in Canada
  • Be seeking to enter Canada solely to develop and direct the investment enterprise. This is established by showing at least 50% ownership of the enterprise or possession of operational control through a managerial position or another corporate device.
  • Be able to demonstrate that such temporary entry will result in the creation or retention of employment opportunities for Canadians and permanent residents and skills transfer to Canadians and permanent residents
  • Be able to demonstrate effective communication skills, to ensure the continuity of the existing business and the prognosis for effective skills transfer. The intending applicant, in such instances, is advised to include language proficiency in the form of a valid IELTS language test with a CLB of 5.0 in each of the 4 components.

Definition of Investment

An investment is the investor’s placing of capital, including funds and/or other assets, at risk in the commercial sense with the objective of generating a profit. The capital must be subject to partial or total loss if the investment fails. The investor must show that the funds have not been obtained, directly or indirectly, from criminal activity.

Marginal Enterprises

The investment enterprise may not be marginal. A marginal enterprise is one that does not have the present or future capacity to generate more than enough income to provide a minimal living for the treaty investor and his or her family. Depending on the facts, a new enterprise might not be considered marginal even if it lacks the current capacity to generate such income, providing goods or services.

Family of the Investors

Self-Employed investors may be accompanied or followed by spouses and unmarried underage children. These family members may seek proper nonimmigrant classification as dependents and, if approved, generally will be granted the same period of stay as the Investor him/herself.