Is Canada Still Accepting Business Immigration?

Article written by Slava Apel, CEO of Startup Visa Services


In an increasingly globalised economy, Canada’s business migration programmes have been vital pathways for international entrepreneurs and companies. These programmes not only facilitate the seamless transfer of key personnel but also foster innovation and economic growth.

Recent changes announced on the 29th of April 2024, by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) are set to reshape the Start-up Visa Programme, aiming to reduce backlogs and improve processing times. Alongside this, the provincial entrepreneur programmes continue to offer tailored opportunities for business immigrants.

This article delves into these changes and provides insights on how they will impact prospective applicants and the broader Canadian business landscape while also reflecting on the history of Canadian business immigration programmes and similar programmes that have been discontinued in the United Kingdom and Australia.

Key Changes to the Startup Visa Programme

The 29th April announcement introduced several significant modifications to the Startup Visa Programme, addressing longstanding challenges and enhancing its efficiency. Here are the primary changes:

  1. Decrease in Allocations for Support Organisations: The new policy reduces the number of business startups that designated organisations, including venture capital funds, angel investor groups, and business incubators, are allowed to support. This change aims to diversify the pool of innovative businesses entering Canada and expedite the approval process. Prioritisation measures and attention to old applications will benefit.
  2. Streamlined Application Process: To tackle the issue of processing delays, IRCC has been introducing a more streamlined application process with online submissions instead of mailing in applications. Also, as exposed in live events for lawyer associations, the implementation of artificial intelligence is used to speed up approvals.
  3. Reducing the Backlog of Inventory: Recognising the challenges faced by foreign entrepreneurs of waiting a long time for approval for permanent residency, the programme has now slowed down the intake of new applications until the end of 2026.
  4. Prioritisation of High-Potential Startups: The changes also introduce a prioritisation mechanism for startups with high potential for economic impact and job creation. This prioritisation aims to attract businesses that can contribute significantly to Canada’s economy and innovation landscape through a select group of designated organisations or funding options.

Provincial Entrepreneur Programmes: An Alternative Pathway

While the federal Startup Visa Programme garners much attention, Canada’s provincial entrepreneur programmes offer additional, tailored opportunities for business immigrants.

These programmes, administered by individual provinces and territories, are designed to address regional economic needs and opportunities. At the time of writing this article, some of the programmes were live, some were active and some were paused, but this article is meant to show the variety of options.

British Columbia Entrepreneur Immigration (BC PNP or BCPNP)

The BC Entrepreneur Immigration stream targets experienced businesspeople who can establish themselves in BC and invest in and operate a commercially viable business. The programme requires a net worth of CAD 600,000 and a minimum investment of CAD 200,000. There are also processing fees; a candidate should never aim just at the minimum programme requirements.

As the old saying goes…“do more, not less.”

Other similar programmes with investment, net worth, and activity requirements to research would be:

  • Quebec Entrepreneur Programme
  • Quebec Investment Programme
  • Ontario Immigrant Nominee Programme (OINP) Entrepreneur Stream (Suspended as of 4th December 2023)
  • Atlantic Immigration Pilot Programme (AIPP) (Closed and replaced by the Atlantic Immigration Programme (AIP)
  • Alberta Provincial Nominee Programme (AINP)
  • Manitoba Provincial Nominee Programme (MPNP)
  • New Brunswick Provincial Nominee Programme (NBPNP)
  • Newfoundland & Labrador Provincial Nominee Programme (NLPNP)
  • Northwest Territories Provincial Nominee Programme (NTNP)
  • Nova Scotia Provincial Nominee Programme (NSPNP)
  • Prince Edward Island Provincial Nominee Programme (PEI PNP)
  • Saskatchewan Provincial Nominee Programme (SINP)
  • Yukon Provincial Nominee Programme (YNP)

Businesspeople and their high-ranking employees may also look at Intra-Company Transfer Canada (ICT), which unlocks the path to Canada for multinational companies.

The intra-company category permits international companies to temporarily transfer qualified employees to Canada to improve management effectiveness, expanding Canadian exports, and enhancing competitiveness in overseas markets.

Historical Context: The Immigrant Investor Programme

To understand the current landscape of Canadian business immigration, it is essential to reflect on past programmes, such as the Immigrant Investor Programme (IIP), which was terminated in 2014.

  1. Overview of the Immigrant Investor Programme: Introduced in 1986, the IIP required applicants to invest a substantial amount of money in Canada in exchange for permanent residency. The funds were used to create jobs and support economic development.
  2. Reasons for Closure: The programme was discontinued due to various challenges, including concerns about the integrity of applications, the economic benefits being less significant than anticipated, and the processing backlogs that plagued the system.
  3. Impact and Legacy: The closure of the IIP marked a significant shift in Canada’s approach to business immigration, leading to the development of more targeted programmes like the Startup Visa and provincial entrepreneur streams that focus on active business involvement and innovation rather than passive investment.

Similar Programmes in the United Kingdom and Australia

The UK and Australia have also had their share of business immigration programmes that have been discontinued, providing valuable lessons for Canada.

  1. UK Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) Visa: The UK Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) Visa, which was introduced in 2008, allowed individuals to invest in and run a business in the UK. However, this programme was closed to new applicants on the 29th of March 2019 due to concerns about abuse and inefficiency. It was replaced by the Innovator and Startup visas, which aim to attract more viable and innovative businesses.
  2. Australian Business Talent (Permanent) Visa (subclass 132): The Australian Business Talent Visa, launched in 2012, was designed for high-calibre businesspeople to establish a new or develop an existing business in Australia. This visa was closed to new applications on the 1st of July 2021, as part of a broader effort to streamline Australia’s business and investment visa programmes. The focus has since shifted to the Business Innovation and Investment Programme (BIIP), which aims to attract entrepreneurs with a proven track record of business success.

Strategic Considerations for Prospective Applicants

The recent changes to the Startup Visa Programme and the opportunities presented by provincial entrepreneur programmes offer diverse pathways for business migration to Canada.

Here are some strategic considerations for potential applicants:

  1. Leveraging Increased Support and Resources: Applicants should fully take advantage of the Startup Visa Programme’s increased support and streamlined processes. Engaging with designated organisations early in the process can enhance the likelihood of a successful application.
  2. Exploring Provincial Programmes: Depending on the nature and scale of the business, exploring provincial programmes might offer more suitable opportunities. Each province has unique requirements and benefits, so understanding these can help in choosing the best path.
  3. Aligning with High-Priority Areas: Startups should focus on aligning their business models with sectors identified as high-priority by IRCC and provincial authorities. Emphasising innovation, job creation, and economic impact can improve their chances of receiving prioritisation.
  4. Staying Informed and Adaptive: The business migration landscape is dynamic, and staying informed about policy changes is crucial. Applicants and stakeholders should remain adaptive and proactive in responding to new regulations and opportunities.


The recent updates to Canada’s Startup Visa Programme reflect a commitment to fostering a more efficient, supportive, and impactful business migration environment.

Coupled with the diverse opportunities provided by provincial entrepreneur programmes, international entrepreneurs and companies have multiple avenues to contribute to Canada’s economic growth and innovation.

This article is not meant as immigration advice but more of a research tool for opening doors for alternative paths to business people to Canada. For a detailed breakdown of the changes to the Startup Visa Programme and their implications, please contact the author, Mr Slava Apel – CEO of Startup Visa Services. Also, refer to the official IRCC announcement here an only open to immigration professionals video explaining in detail of the consequences of the 29th April 2024 changes.

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