Ontario Entrepreneur Stream – Business immigration to Canada

For those looking to open a business in Canada, there are various different programs available depending on where you want to open your business, which type of business you want to open, how much money you have to invest, and your own business experience. Entrepreneurs have the option to open a new business in Canada, or to purchase an existing business. Depending on where you want to start your business or purchase an existing business, you may be applying through a provincial business program.

Provincial programs are run by each province/territory individually and are tailored to their specific needs. These programs were created to allow the provinces to bring in new immigrants to fit their specific needs. To apply through these programs, the applicant needs to have the intention to reside in the province they are applying to.

For those entrepreneurs looking to move to Ontario, they may be able to immigrate through the Ontario Entrepreneur Stream which is operated by the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP).

The Ontario Entrepreneur Stream is a points-based system and those entrepreneurs with the higher scores will be selected. To be eligible to enter an Expression of interest to the OINP Entrepreneur Stream, applicant’s need to meet the following basic requirements:

  • Intention to reside in Ontario and be actively involved in the day to day operations of the business
  • Minimum investment of $600,000 Canadian Dollars if operating a business in the Greater Toronto Area OR $200,000 Canadian Dollars if operating a business outside of the Greater Toronto Area OR in any part of Ontario but the business is in the information and communications technology/digital communications sector
  • Minimum net worth of $800,000 Canadian Dollars if operating a business in the Greater Toronto Area (City of Toronto and Durham, Halton, York and Peel regions) OR $ 400,000 Canadian Dollars if operating a business outside of the Greater Toronto Area
  • May identify a business partner for nomination to assist in the establishment of the business in Ontario
  • Must control at least 1/3 of the equity in the business
  • Create at least two full-time, permanent jobs for Canadian citizens or permanent residents if operating a business in the Greater Toronto Area OR one full-time permanent job for a Canadian citizen or permanent resident if operating a business outside of the Greater Toronto Area OR in any part of Ontario but the business is in the information and communications technology/digital communications sector
  • Have at least 24 months worth of full-time business experience in the past 60 months as a business owner or senior manager
  • If purchasing a business in Canada you will need to make an exploratory visit to Ontario within the 12 months preceding the submission of your application
  • For this program, you would enter into a Pool of applicants and would be assigned a score. You would be allowed to proceed if your score is selected.

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

  • you must make at least one business-related visit to Ontario within 12 months from the date of registering an expression of interest (EOI)
  • the business being purchased must have been in continuous operation by the same owner(s) for the previous 60 months before submission of your application
  • ownership of the business must be completely transferred to the applicant or any business partner
  • the previous owner(s) cannot retain any shares of the business
  • you must use at least 10% of your personal investment towards improving or expanding the business in Ontario
  • you must keep all permanent, full-time jobs in the business prior to the transfer of ownership
  • the proposed business must not have been previously owned/operated by current or former the 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 Ontario Entrepreneur Stream is a two-part application.

The first part of the Ontario Entrepreneur Stream requires applicants to submit their Expression of Interest (EOI) to the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP). Their EOI will then be scored. The applicants need to wait to be selected based on their EOI. If they are invited to submit a full application to the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP), they will need to attend a mandatory interview with the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP) and then sign a performance agreement. A performance agreement outlined that you need to meet the commitments that you outlined in your EOI and business plan.

Once applicants have passed the first stage, they will need to show that they have passed an approved English or French test with a minimum CLB level 4. Applicants will first be issued with a work permit support letter which allows them to apply for a work permit. This will then allow them to enter Canada to establish their business and meet the commitments outlined in their performance agreement. Applicants will have 20 months from the date they arrive in Ontario to implement their business plan and submit a final report to the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP). During this time, applicants must be physically living in Ontario for 75% of the time. If the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP) agrees that the applicant has met all of their requirement, they will then be issued with a provincial nomination certificate. Applicants can then use that to apply for permanent residence through Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

The Ontario Entrepreneur Stream will look at the following factors when assessing an entrepreneur’s EOI and business plan to issue them with a score:

The Ontario Entrepreneur stream breaks up the factors that they look at into two separate categories called Human Capital Factors and Investment Factors. The maximum score that an applicant can be given is 200 points. These factors include:

  • Past business or management experience
  • Past experience in a high growth business or export-trade business
  • Past experience in a related industry to your proposed business
  • Level of completed education
  • English or French language abilities
  • Personal net worth
  • Proposed investment amount
  • 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 proposed investment will be allocated in the business
  • Where the business will be located
  • How many jobs the business will create
  • The skill level of the jobs that will be created

The following key sectors have been defined as economic priorities for the Ontario Entrepreneur Stream:

  • Aerospace
  • Automotive
  • Chemical and biochemical
  • Cleantech
  • Financial Services
  • Food and Beverage Manufacturing
  • Forestry
  • Industrial Automation and Robotics
  • Information Technology
  • Life Sciences
  • Mining
  • Tourism

The following businesses are not eligible under the Ontario Entrepreneur Stream

  • automated car wash business
  • holding companies
  • laundromats
  • pawnbrokers
  • payday loan and related businesses
  • scrap metal recycling
  • tire recycling
  • a business involved in producing, distributing, or selling pornography or sexually explicit products or services, or providing sexually oriented services
  • businesses that have been previously owned or operated by a current or former OINP Entrepreneur Stream nominee or a nominee under the former investor component of the Opportunities Ontario program

If your proposed business will be located in the Greater Toronto Area, the following businesses are also ineligible under the Ontario Entrepreneur Stream:

  • existing franchises in Ontario (new foreign franchises expanding into Ontario are permitted)
  • gas stations
  • bed and breakfasts

Please note that if you are invited to submit an application to the OINP, you will need to review the full program guidelines to make sure that you meet all of the Ontario Entrepreneur Stream specific requirements. If you need assistance with this, you can book a consultation with one of our Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants. 



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