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Business in Canada

Canada offers a thriving business economy which is very attractive for companies and individuals all over the world. There are a number of different options to come to Canada, either to immigrate or on a temporary basis through business.

Business Immigration gives the applicant the opportunity to move to Canada on a permanent basis.  It offers options in the following programs:

Temporary business options allow individuals to come to Canada to carry out business activities on a short term basis. There two main options:

A business visitor is someone who comes to Canada for international business activities, but does not intend to enter the Canadian labour market. Business people come to do work in Canada under a free trade agreement.

If you plan to travel to Canada for business purposes, contact us to discuss your business entry requirements.

Business Visitors

Business visitors come to Canada usually looking for ways to grow their business, invest or advance business relationships. Some examples include:

  • To meet people from companies doing business with their country
  • To observe site visits
  • A Canadian company invited them for training in: product use or sales
  • other business transaction functions

It is important to note that in most cases though a business visitor may not need a work permit, they may still need to apply for an eTA or a visa to come to Canada, depending on if they are coming from a visa exempt country or not.

If you need an eTA, you will need to apply for it before coming to Canada.

If you need a visitor visa you will need to apply for it in advance and meet the following requirements:

  • you plan to stay for less than six months,
  • you do not plan to enter the Canadian labour market,
  • your main place of business, and source of income and profits, is outside Canada,
  • you have documents that support your application and
  • you meet Canada’s basic entry requirements, because you
    • have a valid travel document, such as a passport,
    • have enough money for your stay and to return home,
    • plan to leave Canada at the end of your visit and
    • are not a criminal, security or health risk to Canadians.

If you plan to stay longer than six months or plan to work in Canada, you may be considered a temporary worker and have to apply for a work permit.

You are not considered a business visitor, and may need to get a work permit, if you’re doing work for a Canadian company. For example, you’re an employee sent by a foreign company to fulfil a contract with a Canadian company.

If you plan to travel to Canada for temporary business purposes, contact us to discuss your business entry requirements.

Business People

Business people come to do business under a free trade agreement. They can enter and work in Canada if they qualify under one of these agreements:

  • North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)
  • Other Free Trade Agreements (FTAs)
  • General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS)

North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)

NAFTA lets citizens of Canada, the United States

and Mexico enter into each other’s countries for temporary business or investment reasons.

A Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) is not required. This means that Canadian employers do not need to have a job offer approved by Employment and Social Development Canada to hire an American or a Mexican business person.

There are four groups of business people under NAFTA:

  • business visitors
  • professionals
  • intra-company transferees
  • traders and investors

Each group must meet the general rules under NAFTA for temporary entry to Canada.

Business visitors (NAFTA)

This is the same as a regular business visitor; it is someone who comes to Canada to take part in international business activities without being part of the Canadian labour market. They stay in Canada for a few days or a few weeks but are able to stay for up to six months. Business visitors do not need a work permit.


To work in Canada as a professional, you must:

  • be qualified to work in one of the jobs set out in NAFTA (for example, accountant, computer systems analyst or engineer),
  • have a job offer from a Canadian business in that field and
  • have a work permit.

Intra-company transferee

This is a person who is sent to work for the same company in a different country. If this is your case, you must:

  • have worked
    • on an on-going basis,
    • for at least one year in the last three years,
    • for the same or a related employer in the United States or Mexico,
  • be transferred to Canada to work short term for the same or a related employer,
  • work as a manager, as an executive or in a job that uses specialized knowledge, and
  • have a work permit. 

Traders and investors

To work in Canada as a trader or investor, you must:

  • be involved in planning, as a supervisor or executive, or in a role that involves essential skills,
    • a large amount of trade in goods or services, mainly between Canada and your home country, or
    • a large investment in Canada by you or your company,
  • meet any other rules of NAFTA and
  • have a work permit.

Other Free Trade Agreements

Other free trade agreements (FTAs), such as

  • the Canada-Chile FTA,  
  • the Canada-Peru FTA,
  • the Canada-Colombia FTA, and
  • the Canada-Korea FTA

These agreements are modelled on NAFTA to make it easier for business people from one country to enter another country for a short time.

The rules are similar to those under NAFTA and cover business people such as:

  • business visitors,
  • professionals,
  • intra-company transferees and
  • traders and investors.

General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS)

Under GATS, Canada agreed to make it easier for foreign business people to access the Canadian services market. This applies to service providers from more than 140 World Trade Organization member countries.

Three groups of business people are covered:

  • business visitors,
  • professionals and
  • intra-company transferees.

Qualified business people can enter Canada more easily because they do not need an LMIA from the Government of Canada or, in the case of business visitors, a work permit.

If you plan to travel to Canada for business purposes, contact us to discuss your business entry requirements.

Immigrant Investor

Immigrant Investor Venture Capital Pilot Program

If you are an international investor with the skills and abilities needed to contribute to Canadian society, you may be eligible to apply for permanent residence under the Immigrant Investor Venture Capital (IIVC) Pilot Program.

To be eligible to apply under the Immigrant Investor Venture Capital Pilot Program, you will need to meet the following requirements:

  • Have a personal net worth of CDN $10 million or more, acquired through lawful, private sector business or investment activities.
  • Be willing and able to make an at-risk investment (non-guaranteed) of CDN $2 million in the Immigrant Investor Venture Capital (IIVC) Fund.
  • Take an approved language test meet the minimum language levels of Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 5 in either English or French for all four
  • a completed Canadian post-secondary degree, diploma or certificate of at least one year or an original Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) report from a CIC-designated organization
  • Obtain a due diligence report (if progressed to the second stage), an independent examination and validation of past business or investment experience, source of funds and personal net worth. This report is at applicants own expense from one of the following designated service providers: BDO USA, LLP, Deloitte Forensic Inc., EY, KPMG LLP, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) LLP or Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton Consulting Inc.
  • Not be inadmissible for security, health or financial reasons.
  • Plan to live outside the province of Quebec.

PROGRAM NEWS: The application period for the Immigrant Investor Venture Capital (IIVC) Pilot Program is temporarily closed. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada are not accepting applications at this time.

Please contact us for updates, further information and assistance when the program reopens.

Business Immigration Programs

The Business class immigration programs offer three options to allow applicants to pursue permanent residence in Canada.

Immigrant Investor Venture Capital Class

This program is intended to support business immigration by stimulating innovation and growth in the Canadian economy through the provision of at-risk capital from investors that can be actively invested in Canadian start-ups with high growth potential. They are also intended to attract immigrant investors who will be well prepared to integrate into the Canadian business landscape and society.


This program caters to people who have the ability to make significant contribution in any of the specified economic activity like cultural, athletic or agriculture and economically establish themselves. Farmers, sportspeople, artists, etc. are covered under this category.

Start-up Visa

The Start-Up Visa Program is a pilot program under the Business Immigration Class which provides entrepreneurs with permanent residency and access to a wide range of business partners. Applicants for the start-up visa require a commitment from a designated Canadian angel investor group, venture capital fund or business incubator to support their business idea before applying to CIC for permanent residence.

NOTE: The Investor option is currently closed and applications are not being accepted at this time.  

For detailed information on any of these programs, please contact us for a consultation to discuss your eligibility further.

Start-up Visa

Canada is renowned as one of the best places to build a business. Canada’s Start-up Visa Program targets immigrant entrepreneurs with the skills and potential to build businesses in Canada that are innovative, can create jobs for Canadians and can compete on a global scale. Canada offers attractive benefits with the combination of a very strong economy, low taxes, low business costs, excellence in research and innovation and a high quality of life.

The following requirements are need to apply for the Start-up Visa Program:

  • Have a Letter of Support from a designated angel investor group, venture capital fund or business incubator.
  • Meet the ownership requirements for a qualifying business.
  • Take a language test from an approved agency and receive a pass of at least Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 5 in all four categories for either English or French.
  • Have an adequate amount of money to settle and provide for the cost of living prior to earning an income.

If these requirements are met, an application will be further reviewed based on standard admissibility criteria, including health, criminality and security.

The Government of Canada does not give financial support to new Start-up Visa immigrants.

For further information on the eligibility requirements of this program, contact us for a consultation.


The Self-Employed Program seeks to bring people who will become self-employed in Canada. In particular within these three main areas:

  1. Self-employment in Cultural activities
  2. Self-employment in athletics
  3. Self-employment in the purchase and management of a farm.

Cultural experience can include professions and occupations such as musicians, artists, film makers, journalists, illustrators, directors, choreographers, designers amongst others.

Athletes include professional athletes but also coaches and trainers all working at a world class level.

Farming requires significant experience in the management of a farm.

To be eligible to apply as a self-employed person, you must:

  • Have at least two years relevant experience in cultural activities, athletics or farm management.
  • Be able to make a significant contribution to the cultural or athletic life of Canada.
  • Be able to buy and manage a farm in Canada.
  • Be able to be self-employed in Canada.
  • Meet the selection criteria for self-employed people which is assessed on experience, education, age, language and adaptability.
  • Show that you have enough money to support yourself and your family after you get to Canada.
  • Not be inadmissible for security, health or financial reasons.

For further information please contact us for a consultation to discuss if you may be eligible to one of the pathways on the Self- Employed program.