Immigration and Business law, Victoria

Fast Immigration for Business People: British Columbia PNP Business Programs

The Federal Government of Canada has Business immigration programs, but the processing times are three years or more, and an applicant cannot usually get a Work Permit to get the business started before approval.

Fortunately, the Province of British Columbia has stepped in to create three faster ways for Business people and their families to immigrate to the Province of British Columbia. These are all part of the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP).

There are three Business Immigration programs for the PNP, the Regional Business Component, the Business Skills Component and the Strategic Projects Component. In each immigration category, if the Principal Applicant is approved for Permanent Residence, then his or her accompanying spouse and all dependent children also get approved for Permanent Residence.

Disclaimer

The Regional Business Component is the one most commonly chosen. It requires the following:

  1. Make a personal investment of at least $200,000 CAD to establish or to purchase and expand an eligible business anywhere in BC outside of the Vancouver metropolitan area or the Abbotsford metropolitan area
  2. Create at least 1 new job in the business for a Canadian or permanent resident
  3. Own at least one third (33 1/3%) of the equity of the business
  4. Provide active and on-going participation in the day to day management and direction of the business
  5. Demonstrate that they have:
    1. The skills and experience necessary to establish and operate a commercially viable business in BC;
    2. A personal net worth of at least $400,000 CAD obtained from legal sources
    3. Sufficient unencumbered personal funds to make the required investment
    4. A viable business proposal
    5. Sign a Performance Agreement with the Province of British Columbia
    6. Sign a Deposit Agreement with the Province of British Columbia, if they are seeking a Fast Track nomination

This is a popular choice because it has the smallest investment. The only restriction is that the business cannot be in the Greater Vancouver Area. It takes about 2 months for the government to review the Preliminary Proposal, and about another 2 to 3 months to schedule the interview following the submission of the Business Plan. The preliminary proposal must be submitted first.

Once you are approved by the PNP you sign a Performance Agreement, receive a 2-year work permit, and need to choose between normal processing and Fast Track nomination. If you choose the Fast Track, you give the Province of BC a refundable deposit of $125,000, and they nominate you immediately. You will become a Permanent Resident in about nine months to a year. Although the total processing time is therefore about 14 to 17 months, you will have a work permit after about the fifth or sixth month, and be able to be in BC getting your business going.

The government will send you reports to fill out every six months or so, and if at the end of two years you have met the terms of your performance agreement, you receive the $125,000 back, but without interest. If you have not met the terms of your performance agreement, then you lose the $125,000, but you get to keep your PR status.

With the normal processing you receive a two-year work permit, and need to send in periodic reports on your progress. If at the end of the two years you have met the terms of your performance agreement, then your work permit is extended, and you are Nominated. The Federal forms are filed and you will be a PR in about another 9 to 12 months. If you have not met the terms of the performance agreement, your work permit is not extended, and you must leave Canada.

The Business Skills Component is similar to the Regional Projects Category, with a higher investment amount and a requirement that the applicant create three jobs instead of one. In return the applicant is allowed to open a business anywhere in BC. The requirements are:

  1. Make a personal investment of at least $400,000 CAD to establish or to purchase and expand an eligible business anywhere in BC
  2. Create at least 3 new jobs in the business for Canadians or permanent residents
  3. Own at least one third (33 1/3%) of the equity of the business
  4. Provide active and on-going participation in the day to day management and direction of the business
  5. Demonstrate that they have:
    1. The skills and experience necessary to establish and operate a commercially viable business in BC;
    2. A personal net worth of at least $800,000 CAD obtained from legal sources
    3. Sufficient unencumbered personal funds to make the required investment
    4. A viable business proposal
  6. Sign a Performance Agreement with the Province of British Columbia
  7. Sign a Deposit Agreement with the Province of British Columbia, if they are seeking a Fast Track nomination

In addition, an applicant under the Business Skills Category can include one foreign key staff person as a co-nominee, but the applicant is still required to create three other jobs for Canadians or Permanent Residents.

The third program is the Strategic Projects Component.

The Strategic Projects category assists foreign-controlled companies establishing an eligible business in BC with the timely entry of foreign key managerial, professional or technical staff, up to a maximum of 5 per company, who intend to become permanent residents of Canada and settle in BC.

Companies applying in this category will be required to:

  1. Make a minimum equity investment of $500,000
  2. Create at least 3 jobs for Canadians or permanent residents in BC for each nominee applicant put forward by the company
  3. Demonstrate a record of good business practices, and successful business operations outside of Canada that are relevant to the proposed business
  4. Establish or purchase and expand an eligible business anywhere in BC
  5. Incorporate a Canadian subsidiary or register an extra-provincial company in BC to operate the proposed business
  6. Demonstrate that the nominee applicants are qualified senior personnel who are essential to establishing or expanding and operating the proposed business in BC
  7. Sign a Performance Agreement with the Province of British Columbia

An Eligible Business is

  1. The business must be operated for the primary purpose of earning profits from active income through the provision of products/services.
  2. The business must have good potential for sustained commercial viability.
  3. The business must have the potential to create significant economic benefits to British Columbia by contributing to one or more of the following:
    1. Increasing value-added manufacturing, processing or primary resource activity
    2. Increasing exports of goods or services
    3. Increasing destination tourism
    4. Increasing R&D/technology commercialization
    5. Developing innovative and creative approaches to traditional businesses
    6. Transferring technology, skills and specialized know-how to the province
    7. Servicing an underserved local or regional market

The BC PNP will give special priority to business proposals that contribute to:

  • Expanding business with the Asia Pacific region
  • Utilizing wood infected by Mountain Pine Beetle
  • Diversifying the economies of communities affected by Mountain Pine Beetle damage
  • Creating business partnerships with the province’s First Nations (aboriginal people)
  • Developing the province’s emerging technology industries: alternative energy, clean technologies, information technology, new media, and life sciences

Examples of Ineligible Businesses are

  • Bed and breakfasts, hobby farms and home-based businesses
  • Pay day loan, cheque cashing, money changing and cash machine businesses
  • Pawnbrokers
  • Coin operated laundries
  • Automated car wash operations
  • Sale of used goods (excluding collectibles, or where the business provides value-added services such as repairs, refurbishing, or recycling)
  • Real estate development/brokerage, insurance brokerage or business brokerage
  • Businesses involved in the production, distribution or sale of pornographic or sexually explicit products or services, or in the provision of sexually oriented services
  • Any other type of business that by association would tend to bring the program or the Government of British Columbia into disrepute

In addition, applications will NOT be considered for the following types of businesses in the Vancouver metropolitan area or the Abbotsford metropolitan area:

  • Convenience stores
  • Video and DVD rental stores
  • Gasoline service stations
  • Personal dry cleaning services
  • Franchise operations, unless pre-authorized by the BC PNP

Processing times for all three business categories are about the same; that is, about two months to approve the Preliminary Application, and about two to three months to review the Detailed Business Plan and convene the Interview.

For further information on the British Columbia Provincial Nominee Program, or any other Business Immigration Program, contact us to discuss your options.