Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (Entrepreneur Stream)
The Entrepreneur stream of the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program is a pathway for entrepreneurs intent on starting or buying a business in the Province of Ontario.

Such entrepreneurs can be nominated for permanent residence - either solo or along with one “foreign national business partner”. If a business partner is involved, both persons must meet the established requirements. Once nominated by the Province, the entrepreneur can apply to Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) for permanent residence.

An Entrepreneur intent on applying must first ensure that the business at issue is not on the program’s list of ineligible types.

The Process - Stage One
The application proceeds in two stages. The applicant must meet the mandatory minimum requirement at each stage in order to qualify for nomination.

An applicant entrepreneur commences the first stage by registering an Expression of Interest (EOI) via email. The applicant entrepreneur must wait to be invited. If invited, the applicant entrepreneur must:
  • submit an online application within 90 days,
  • attend a mandatory interview, and if successful,
  • sign a performance agreement.
At this stage, it is imperative that the entrepreneur possess:
  • a viable business that is likely to provide significant economic benefit to the Province, or to the local economy of the intended business location within Ontario;
  • a minimum 24 months of full-time business experience in the last 60 months,
  • evidence that the entrepreneur played an active role in the above business, in addition to owning at least one third it;
  • a minimum personal net worth of $800,000 CDN for businesses located within the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), and $600,000 for businesses outside the GTA; and
  • a minimum personal investment of $600,000 for businesses within the GTA, and $200,000 for businesses outside of the GTA.
Passive investments can be used for the purpose of satisfying the minimum personal net worth requirement. However, they are ineligible for inclusion in an applicant’s minimum personal investment amount.

The applicant entrepreneur must be actively involved in the management of the business.

The primary purpose of the business must be to make profit - rather than generate interest income, dividends, or capital gains.

If the business is located in the GTA, the applicant entrepreneur must create at least two permanent full-time jobs. The jobs must be paid at the median wage level for the position; be filled continuously for at least 10 months before the final report submission; and continue to exist at the time of the final report and nomination.

If the entrepreneur applicant intends to purchase an existing business, they must make at least one business-related visit to Ontario within 12 months of registering an EOI; ensure the business has been operated continuously by the same owners for the previous 60 months; ensure the ownership of the business is completely transferred to them; utilize 10% of their personal investment in improving or expanding the business in Ontario; and ensure the business was not previously owned or operated by current or former OINP nominees.

The business must operate on a permanent basis in Ontario, with a place of business in Ontario at all times, and it must comply with all applicable legal, regulatory, and licensing requirements.

The Process - Stage Two
The second stage begins when the program issues a temporary work permit support letter to the entrepreneur. This is to assist the entrepreneur in applying to IRCC for a temporary work permit.

At this stage, it is imperative that the entrepreneur possess:
  • the aforementioned temporary work permit;
  • a Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 4 in the four language abilities;
  • a record of arrival in Ontario within 12 months of receiving stage one approval (and the entrepreneur must inform the program of that arrival within 7 days);
  • a physical residence in Ontario for 75% of the time during which the business is being established;
  • active involvement in the daily management of the business; and
  • a record of having met the commitments in their performance agreement.
The entrepreneur has 20 months from the date of arrival in Ontario to implement their business plan and submit a final report.

In the event all conditions are met, the entrepreneur will be asked to provide documentation showing their eligibility for nomination for permanent residence. Once nominated, the entrepreneur can apply to the federal government through IRCC for permanent residence.

In all, there are multiple steps and myriad legal and business requirements. If you think the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program might be right for you, contact us at AFOLABI to get started.
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