3 Ways to Immigrate to Canada from the USA by Buying or Starting a Business

If you’re an American entrepreneur looking to immigrate to Canada, then you’re in luck.

Immigrating to Canada can be a challenging task. However, if you’re willing to start or buy a business in Canada, your chances of success are greater than the average immigration applicant.

According to the World Bank, Canada is ranked 23rd in the world in the “ease of doing business index”. That means if you’re looking for a great country to live in and start a business in, Canada is one of the easiest options.

If you’re wanting to immigrate to Canada, then starting or buying a business is one of the best opportunities. In this article, we’ll share with you everything you need to know about immigrating to Canada as an entrepreneur.

Let’s begin.

3 Paths for US Entrepreneurs to Immigrate to Canada

There are 3 main paths Americans can take to immigrate to Canada as entrepreneurs. These are the best options available in order to relocate to Canada and ultimately become a Canadian citizen.

The 3 paths include

1. Executive Express Entry

2. Provincial Nominee Programs

3. Start-Up Visa

1. Canadian Business Immigration by Executive Express Entry

Many foreign nationals believe “Express Entry” is the only option to immigrate to Canada. While this is a great option for professionals looking to become employees at a Canadian company, this isn’t the best option if you’re a business owner.

The “Express Entry” program primarily focuses on younger professional workers (35 years or younger) with strong English or French skills. These are people who typically have master’s degrees and have plenty of work experience in Canada.

As an American with a business background, a better option is to take the “executive” branch of the Express Entry program. This Express Entry stream was created to attract C-suite executives and business owners.

In order to immigrate through Canada’s Executive Express Entry, you’ll need to take 3 main steps:

  1. Start a new company or buy an existing company in Canada
  2. Apply for a work permit
  3. Operate the business until it becomes fully operational

This 3-step process typically takes about 12-18 months. However, by doing this, you’ll increase your odds of becoming a permanent resident in Canada.

Let’s dive into each of the 3 steps:

Step 1: Start or buy a business in Canada

There are four main ways foreign nationals can invest in Canadian business:

  • Launch a brand new business
  • Buy an existing business
  • Buy a franchise
  • Purchase a minimum of 33% shares in a business

Step 2: Apply for a Canadian Work Permit

Once you’ve purchased or launched a business in Canada, you can then apply to obtain a work permit.

There are a number of different work permits available to business immigrants depending on your goals.

Step 3: Begin Operating Your Business

The third step is to start actively operating your new business.

Once you’ve arrived in Canada, you’ll need to begin operating your business for a period of time. This is to prove to the Canadian government that you’re legitimate and trusted to operate a business professionally in Canada.

The length of time depends on the type of business and industry you’re in, as well as whether you started a new business or purchased one.

However, once you’ve got to this point, you simply need to run your business for a set time and you should qualify for permanent residency.

Wondering what qualifies as “operating your business”?


In order to qualify your business operations as active, you must meet the following criteria

  • You’re actively selling goods and/or services to customers
  • You have all licenses and permits in order to operate in Canada and the province you’re located in
  • You have a physical location in Canada
  • You have at least one Canadian employee who isn’t related to you

Step 4: Apply for Canadian Permanent Residency

The long-awaited final step in the Executive Express Entry program is to apply to become a permanent resident.

Once your business is established in Canada for a period of time, you’ll be able to apply for permanent residency (PR) as the manager of your business.

You will have to meet the following criteria:

  • Language skill score of at least CLB 7
  • Police clearance
  • High-school education at a minimum
  • No serious medical issues

2. Canadian Business Immigration through Provincial Nominee Programs

The second path for Americans looking for business immigration to Canada is through one of Canada’s provincial nominee programs (PNPs).

This process allows you to potentially acquire permanent residency, and ultimately, Canadian citizenship.

As there are over a dozen different PNPs, the overall process will vary from province to province (and program to program).

However, most PNPs include the following basic process:

  1. Register an expression of interest in your province of preference
  2. Receive an application invitation
  3. Complete an interview
  4. Sign a performance agreement with the province
  5. Apply for Canadian work permit
  6. Upon arrival in Canada, establish and begin operating your company
  7. Apply for nomination
  8. Apply for permanent residence

3. Canadian Business Immigration by the Start-up Visa Program

The third option you have as an American looking to immigrate to Canada as an entrepreneur is through the Start-up Visa program.

As the name suggests, this path is for entrepreneurs looking to start a brand new company in Canada.

In order to qualify, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Acquire a letter of support from a minimum of one Canadian designated organization
  • Meet minimum language requirements in English or French of CLB5
  • Carry sufficient funds to settle in Canada (about $10,000 USD)
  • Reside in any province (other than Quebec)
  • Pass security and medical clearances

In order to apply for the Start-up Visa Program, you’ll typically have to complete the following:

  1. Business plan
  2. Pitch deck
  3. Establish a company in Canada
  4. Go to market
  5. Pitch designation organizations
  6. Immigrant application

Looking to Immigrate from the US to Canada as an Entrepreneur?

Are you a US citizen looking to immigrate to Canada?

Well, as you can see, business owners, entrepreneurs, and investors have a variety of different options to choose from when it comes to Canadian immigrtion.

However, just because you have options to immigrate to Canada, doesn’t mean it’s easy.

In fact, these processes are very meticulous, time-sensitive, and require dozens of different complicated steps.

There are dozens of opportunities for error in terms of documentation, legalities, and applications which is why it’s recommended to work with a trusted Canadian immigration lawyer to help you with the process.

At Falcon Law, we can help you create a custom-tailored business immigration plan to help the process go smoothly and successfully.

If you need help immigrating to Canada or you just want to ask a few questions about the process, reach out to us at Falcon Law today.

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