Start a business in Canada

Foreigners looking to invest in a business in Canada must undergo a two-stage process:

In the first stage they will have to apply for a temporary work permit while complying with the federal owner operator rules.

In the second stage, they can apply for a permanent residence in Canada under any of its various immigration programs.

Another option for business immigrants looking at investing in a business in Canada is using the Owner Operator policy offered by the Canadian government

What is the Owner-Operator Policy?

The Owner-Operator policy is not a formal immigration program, but it is a work permit issued under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP).

Under this policy, foreign entrepreneurs who wish to acquire an existing business or start a new business in Canada must first apply for a work visa for the position of manager. They can qualify for a work permit as a Temporary Foreign Worker. They must be hired by an employer recognized as a business entity by the government.

In order to qualify as an owner-operator, the foreign employee/investor must be able to acquire a controlling interest in the business he has been hired for. He can qualify as an owner-operator provided he gets the required immigration approval and displays sufficient interest to run the business.

The Owner-Operator policy has gained considerable attention from many foreign business entrepreneurs and investors.

Why is this new policy attractive to foreign investors?

The existing federal investment-based immigration programs have a very limited scope.

The provincial investment-based residence immigration programs work under the Expression of Interest scheme. Under this program, candidates must first apply

for a temporary work permit and then apply for a PR visa. The programs are quota-based which leaves a large pool of investors who are also applicants for a PR visa subject to a relatively small number of quota-based openings.

These factors decrease their chances of getting a PR visa. However, under the Owner Operator policy, candidates interested to settle down in an area of Canada, can buy a suitable business in that area and subsequently get a permanent residency to live there.

What are the eligibility conditions?

Foreign investors must have:

    • Adequate experience in managing a business.
    • Have sufficient assets to buy the business they wish to own.
    • Have a controlling interest in the business which means they should own more than 50% of the shares.
    • Have the required proficiency in English or French.

What is the process to own a business under the policy?

    • Identify the Canadian business to purchase.
    • Submit a business plan with a Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).
    • After receiving a positive LMIA, the investor will apply for a temporary work permit at the management level valid for one to two years.

The whole process will take about six months

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