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Ontario – Entrepreneur stream

Ontario – Entrepreneur stream

October 19, 2019

The Entrepreneur Stream

The Ontario Entrepreneur Stream is one of the Business Streams of the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP), a Provincial Nominee Program (PNP), operated by the province of Ontario. This stream is designed to target experienced business owners or senior business managers who want to live in Ontario. Therefore, if you have a business idea, or are in a position to purchase an existing business in Ontario, then the Entrepreneur Stream of the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP) could be the Canadian immigration option for you. Successful applicants must start a new business or buy an existing business in which they participate in day-to-day management duties.

The entrepreneur may be eligible for permanent resident status after working for a minimum of 18 months in an Ontario company. This program is by invitation only. Initially, interested candidates must submit an Expression of Interest (EOI) via the OINP e-Filing portal. The applicant will be given a score according to the Ontario Entrepreneur Ranking System after creating a profile. Candidates with the most competitive ratings will be invited to apply to the program officially.

The immigration authorities of Canada’s most populous province invite eligible registered applicants, according to OINP Entrepreneurs Stream to obtain a temporary work permit to start up the business in Ontario. If the terms of a Performance Agreement are complied with, successful applicants may apply to be named to the province as the next step towards becoming a permanent resident in Canada.

The OINP Entrepreneur Stream thus leads to permanent residence, but only after certain conditions are met. Moreover, eligible candidates must first be invited to apply before they may make an application. Invitations are issued on the basis of a unique points system.


Requirements

In order to qualify for the Entrepreneur Process, a viable business must have a significant economic gain for the Ontario economy as a whole or for the regional Ontario economy in which the enterprise is situated. The eligibility requirements must be met by you and a business partner (where applicable).

If you are invited to submit an application, you must provide supporting documentation to demonstrate you meet the requirements.

Please refer to section 13 of Ontario Regulation 422/17 and the Entrepreneur Stream Application Guide for more details on each requirement.

1. Business experience

You need to have full-time business experience of at least 24 months over the past 60 months. Your background should be as a company owner or as a senior manager. You have to have been an active business owner and have owned at least one-third of the company. You must have had senior decision-making roles in the business as a senior manager.

2. Net worth

If your proposed business will be located:

  • within the Greater Toronto Area (City of Toronto and Durham, Halton, York, and Peel regions) you must have a minimum net worth of 800,000 CAD.
  • outside of the Greater Toronto Area, you must have a minimum net worth of $400,000 CAD.

If your proposed business is in the information and communications technology/digital communications sector then regardless of location, you must have a minimum net worth of $400,000 CAD.

3. Personal investment funds and minimum equity

If your proposed business will be located:

  • within the Greater Toronto Area, you must make a minimum personal investment of $600,000 CAD and control at least one-third of the equity in the business
  • outside of the Greater Toronto Area, you must make a minimum personal investment of $200,000 CAD and control at least one-third of the equity in the business

If your proposed company is in the IT / digital communications field then you will be required to make a direct minimum investment of $200,000 CAD and monitor, irrespective of the venue, at least one-third of the capital.

The Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP) welcomes foreign national entrepreneurs willing to invest in Ontario. Candidates who are invited to apply for permanent residency nomination under the Entrepreneur Stream would be considered, but not guaranteed for approval, and applications are assessed against the criteria as set out under section 13 of Ontario Regulation 422/17 (General), as further explained in the Application Guide: Entrepreneur Stream. The criteria include an applicant demonstrating that they meet minimum personal net worth and investment criteria. While passive investments, including mutual and/or pooled fund securities, are permissible for the purpose of satisfying the personal net worth criterion, they are not eligible for inclusion in an applicant’s minimum business investment amount.

4. Active involvement

You must be actively involved, on an ongoing basis, in the management of the business.

5. Capital investment purpose

The primary purpose of investing capital in the business must be to make a profit. It must not be to derive interest, dividends or capital gains.

6. Job creation

You need at least two permanent full-time jobs for Canadian citizens or permanent residents to set up the business in the Greater Toronto Area. Where the organization is based outside of the Greater Toronto Area or in IT or digital communications, regardless of the location, a Canadian citizen or permanent resident shall have at least one permanent full-time work to do. Jobs must be created for at least 10 months during the first 20 months of the establishment or acquisition of the company, must be completed continuously, and must be paid for the position for the median wage level.

7. Additional requirements if purchasing an existing business

If you plan to purchase an existing business:

  • you must make at least one business-related visit to Ontario within 12 months from the date of registering an Expression of Interest
  • the business being purchased must have been in continuous operation by the same owner(s) for the previous 60 months
  • ownership of the business must be completely transferred to the applicant or any business partner
  • you must use at least 10% of your personal investment towards improving or expanding the business in Ontario
  • you must keep all permanent full-time employees that worked in the business prior to the transfer of ownership

 

General business requirements

In addition to meeting the minimum requirements listed above, you must also meet the general business requirements listed below.

1. Business purpose

The business purpose must be to make a profit from active income through the sale of goods and/or services.

2. Canadian and Ontario legal requirements

Your business must comply with all relevant federal, provincial or municipal legal, regulatory and licensing requirements. This includes compliance with Ontario’s labor and employment standards laws.

3. Permanent business

Your business must be permanent. Project-based and seasonal businesses are not eligible.

4. Business in Ontario

You must maintain a place of business in Ontario at all times.

Refer to the Entrepreneur Stream Application Guide for more detailed information.


Ineligible types of businesses

Ontario will not process applications where there is a risk of little to no long-term economic benefit to the province. Consequently, the proposed business cannot be included in the following list of ineligible businesses.

Ineligible Businesses in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA)
  • Existing Franchises in Ontario (new foreign franchises expanding into Ontario are permitted)
  • Gas Stations
  • Tire Recycling
  • Scrap Metal Recycling
  • Pawnbrokers
  • Bed and Breakfasts
  • Holding Companies
  • Laundromats
  • Automated Car Wash Operations
  • Payday loan and related businesses
  • Businesses which have been previously owned/operated by current or former OINP business stream nominees
  • Businesses involved in producing, distributing or selling pornography or sexually explicit products or services, or providing sexually oriented services
Ineligible Businesses outside the GTA
  • Tire Recycling
  • Scrap Metal Recycling
  • Pawnbrokers
  • Holding Companies
  • Laundromats
  • Automated Car Wash Operations
  • Payday loan and related businesses
  • Businesses which have been previously owned/operated by current or former OINP business stream nominees
  • Businesses involved in producing, distributing or selling pornography or sexually explicit products or services, or providing sexually oriented services

Minimum Requirements for Nominations

Entrepreneurs must meet the following requirements in order to be nominated once they have established the business and met the performance agreement. Successfully obtaining a nomination certificate allows applicants to make an application for Canadian permanent residence.

The following criteria must be met when entrepreneurs apply for a Government of Ontario nomination after the business has been established, not when applying to the OINP Entrepreneur Stream.

  • Entrepreneurs must demonstrate official language proficiency at a Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 4 level or equivalent;
    • CLB 4 can be demonstrated through the following tests: International English Language Testing System (IELTS) General Test Scores, Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP) for English, Test d’évaluation du français (TEF) or Test de Connaissance du français (TCF). The following is a breakdown of eligible scores under each language ability:
      • Listening: IELTS 4.5 | CELPIP 4 | TEF 145-180 | TCF 331-368
      • Reading: IELTS 3.5 | CELPIP 4 | TEF 121-150 | TCF 342-374
      • Writing: IELTS 4.0 | CELPIP 4 | TEF 181-225 | TCF 4-5
      • Speaking: IELTS 4.0 | CELPIP 4 | TEF 181-225 | TCF 4-5
  • To meet the residency requirements of the program, applicants must be physically residing in Ontario for 75 percent (nine months out of the year) of the period in which they are establishing the business in Ontario (i.e. the performance agreement period);
  • Entrepreneurs must be actively involved in the daily management of business activities. 

Note: Nominees must also continue to meet the conditions of the Performance Agreement, including the information provided in the EOI and business plan, within 20 months of arriving in Ontario. 


Process

The OINP Entrepreneur Stream application process can be summed up as a two-phase process:

Phase I:

  1. Prepare to submit an online Expression of Interest (EOI).
  2. Register an online EOI with the OINP.
  3. Prepare an application to the Entrepreneur Stream (if invited to apply).
  4. Submit a complete online OINP Entrepreneur Stream application, upload all the necessary supporting documents and pay the required application fee.
  5. Attend a mandatory interview as part of the application assessment process. 
  6. Sign a Performance Agreement outlining investment and job creation conditions with the OINP (if the application is approved).

Phase II:

  1. Obtain a temporary work permit support letter to apply for a work permit with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) from OINP.
  2. Arrive in Ontario on a temporary work permit to establish the business and carry out the business plan. Entrepreneurs will have 20 months to establish a business in Ontario.
  3. Receive a nomination from the Government of Ontario if the conditions of the signed Performance Agreement are met.
  4. Apply for Canadian permanent residence with IRCC within six (6) months of nomination. The OINP performs post-nomination monitoring for a period of 36 months following the issuance of permanent resident status.

How to apply

A number of steps before an applicant is given permanent residency is taken on the Entrepreneur Stream Originally, successful candidates are given temporary residencies, where permanent residency relies on business performance and on negotiated objectives.

Step 1: Make sure you satisfy all criteria

Ontario suggests candidates thoroughly self-evaluate before registering an Expression of Interest (EOI). Primarily, this should include making sure you meet minimum requirements, but candidates are strongly advised to visit the province to assess business opportunities and make local contacts.

If applying with a business partner, both of you must meet the minimum requirements in order to apply under the OES.

Ontario Entrepreneur Stream: Financial Requirements

1) Net Worth

  • The minimum net worth of $800,000 if your proposed business will be in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). Outside the GTA, the minimum net worth is $400,000.
  • Proposed business in either ICT or digital communications, minimum net worth is $400,000 anywhere in the province.

2) Investment and Ownership

  • Invest at least $600,000 in an Ontario business and own at least 33 percent if the business is in GTA.
  • Outside GTA, invest at least $200,000 and own at least 33 percent.
  • Proposed business in either ICT or digital communications, invest at least $200,000 and own at least 33 percent anywhere in the province.
Ontario Entrepreneur Stream: Non-Financial Requirements
  • At least 24 months of full-time business experience in the past 60 months, as an owner or senior manager.
  • Create two full-time jobs for Canadian citizens or permanent residents in the proposed company if located inside the GTA. Business located outside the GTA, or in either ICT or digital communications, must create one full-time job.
  • Make an exploratory visit to Ontario in the 12 months prior to application. Note: This only applies to those buying an existing business.
  • Minimum CLB 4 in English or French.
  • Physically reside in Ontario for at least 75 % of the time you are managing the business.

Step 2: Complete and submit an online Expression of Interest (EOI)

An Expression of Interest (EOI) is a form that specifies that the applicant wishes to move to the province of Ontario under the OES. It must be received online through the OINP e-Filing platform and done with precision and integrity. Moreover, a one-year EOI is valid after receipt date so you will have to submit a new one if it expires. The applicant is assessed and given a score using a points system.  Points are awarded based on:

Experience factors

This factor is further divided into two sections: Business experience must be:

  • Ownership experience (must have owned at least 33% of the business and have been actively involved in management) OR 
  • Senior management experience (decision-making responsibilities in areas such as operations, finance, sales, marketing, human resources, etc.)
  • In the past 5 years
  • Minimum required is 2 years: if you have below 24 months of experience, you are not eligible for the OES

Specific Experience must be:

  • In a high growth business or in an export trade business
  • As a business owner OR senior management
  • Within the last 5 years
Investment factors

This criterion is further divided into personal net worth, investment amount, job creation, business visit, targeted sectors, business location

Personal net worth must be legally acquired and verifiable. It includes all assets minus all liabilities, yours and your spouse’s or common-law partner’s, if applicable.

The minimum required is $800,000 if the business is located in GTA, or $400,000 if the business is located outside GTA or it operates in ICT/Digital communications.

The investment amount must be of a minimum of $600,000 if the business is in GTA OR at least $200,000 if outside GTA or operates in ICT/Digital communications.

The main applicant must own one-third of the business. If applicable, the spouse/common-law partner may own equity in the business.

If you have a business partner, they must also meet the same thresholds and own at least one-third of the business.

Some types of investments are ineligible:

  • Cash, cash equivalents or working capital
  • Wage payments made to yourself and family members

Job creation may also provide points under this factor. The minimum requirement is to create two full-time permanent jobs for Canadian citizens or permanent residents paid at the median wage level.

The NOC of the positions you create also receives points. There is no minimum requirement, but NOC C and D will receive no points.

An exploratory visit to Ontario is optional for those who create a new business, but mandatory for those who purchase an existing business. It must be done within the last year prior to the application.

Further points are awarded if your business is in one of the following sectors:

  • Aerospace
  • Automotive
  • Chemical and biochemical
  • Cleantech
  • Financial Services
  • Food and Beverage Manufacturing
  • Industrial Automation and Robotics
  • Information technology
  • Life Sciences
  • Mining
  • Tourism

Business location is also important, although not a mandatory requirement. The OINP awards point based on the size of the areas where the business is located.

Human Capital factors

The factor of human capital gives points to the education level and the skill level you have acquired in French and English. The OES does not require a minimum level of education, but only post-secondary degrees and degree points. If you don’t receive education in Canada, you should assess your educational credentials at the highest level of education attained.

A language test is also not mandatory, but points are given if you achieve a minimum of CLB/NCLC 4 in all four language abilities, in English or in French, at the time of nomination.

Step 3: Invitation to apply

Ontario draws regularly and prefers EOI pool registrants. The selected candidates could submit a request for an appointment under the OES.

Step 4: Submit the application

Once an applicant is accepted, a business case and the form and supporting documentation required must be submitted by the applicant within 90 days. You must file your personal net worth summary statement, prepared by a certified seller approved by the OINP.

There is a $3,500 application processing fee. If you are applying with a business partner, they must also pay the processing fee. Incomplete applications will not be assessed.

Step 5: Application assessment

The application shall be assessed upon receipt of the fee and all relevant documents. Applicants and their business partners shall attend a mandatory interview in person at OINP offices, if necessary.

Step 6: Sign Performance Agreement

If your application is approved, you will be asked to sign a Performance Agreement. The Performance Agreement will outline the rules that must be followed in order for you, and your partner if applicable, to be nominated for permanent residence.

Step 7: Before you arrive: temporary work permit

Once you sign the Performance Agreement, you will be sent a Letter of Confirmation. This letter will allow you to apply for a Temporary Work Permit from the Canadian government. If you meet all the relevant criteria of the Canadian federal government, you will receive a temporary Work Permit.

Step 8: After you arrive: 20 months for business establishment

Once you obtain a temporary work permit, you should move to Ontario and begin establishing your business as soon as possible. You must inform the immigration processing office of your arrival in Ontario within 7 days of arrival. Within 18-20 months of arriving in Ontario, you must submit a report showing that you are abiding by all the rules of the OES and the terms of your Performance Agreement.

Step 9: Nomination for permanent residence

If your report is approved, you will be nominated for permanent residence by the Ontario government. The holder of a nomination certificate may submit an application for Canadian permanent residence to the federal government as long as the nominee continues to abide by the performance agreement and the requirements of the OES mentioned above.

Step 10: Application for permanent residence, plus three years of monitoring

If you obtain permanent residence, you will be monitored for an additional period of 36 months to make sure that you continue to abide by all the rules of the OES and the terms of your performance agreement.


Expression of interest

An expression of interest (EOI) is the first step. It is not an application. There is no fee to register an EOI.

The EOI is comprised of two components, for a maximum EOI score of 200 points:

  1. Self-Declared Score (126 points)
  2. Business Concept Score (74 points)

OINP will assess and score your Business Concept.  Your business concept will need to score at least 37 of the available 74 points (50%) to be placed in the EOI selection pool.

Whether you will be issued an invitation to apply is based on your EOI rank in the selection pool. Only the top-ranked candidates are invited to apply.

Refer to the Entrepreneur Stream Application Guide to learn more about the different scoring categories and the corresponding points.

Please note:

  • if you are selected, you will be invited to submit an application and you will be required to provide supporting documents to validate the information in your EOI
  • if your stage 1 application is successful, the information you provide in your EOI will become part of your contractual obligations under the performance agreement.

Example: If you are selected to apply to the Entrepreneur Stream and your EOI indicates you will make a $2,000,000 investment, your application must indicate you will be making an investment of at least $2,000,000. This will then be included in your performance agreement as to the minimum investment you must make in order to be eligible for nomination for permanent residence.


After you submit your EOI

Your EOI will be placed in a pool and will be ranked against other candidates. Periodically the Ontario government draws the top-scoring candidates from the pool and invites them to submit an application to OINP’s Entrepreneur Stream.

You will receive an email with instructions for submitting an application electronically via the OINP e-Filing Portal if you are invited to apply. And the government will give you (or your employee) an email to invite you if you are chosen to apply for the Entrepreneur Stream

The email will include:

  • instructions on how to log into your online account
  • your application deadline
  • the Entrepreneur Stream Application Guide

You have 90 calendar days to submit your online application from the date of your invitation to apply.

If you are not selected within 12 months from the date of submitting your EOI, you will be removed from the selection pool. You have the option to submit a new EOI.


Supporting documents

To support the information contained in your EOI and application and to show that you meet the eligibility criteria, you must provide full of necessary documents. Then, you have to search and upload all supporting documents in the online application. For a list of required papers, please see the Checklist file for Entrepreneur Strean.

If a supporting document is not in English or French, you must provide a copy of the original document and a translation of the document. Please read Document translation and notarization for more information.

Please note: If you do not upload all of the required documents, your application will be considered incomplete and will be returned and your fee refunded.


Cost to apply

The application fee is $3,500 for you and $3,500 for your business partner (if applicable). This fee covers the cost of processing your application. And the authority only accepts Visa, Visa Debit, MasterCard and MasterCard Debit.

Refunds

Ontario’s government will only refund the fee if they find your application is incomplete or you withdraw your application before they start to process it. Moreover, they will not refund the fee if your application is unsuccessful.

You can check the status of your application through your account in the OINP e-Filing Portal.


Sign a performance agreement

If your stage 1 application is successful

If your stage 1 application (including your interview) is successful, you will be asked to sign a performance agreement with the Government of Ontario. The performance agreement will outline the commitments that must be met in order to be nominated for permanent residence. The document will include, but may not be limited to:

  • a description of your business
  • investment amounts and timelines
  • number and types of jobs to be created for Canadian citizens or permanent residents
  • mandatory business milestones and achievements
  • timeframes for commitments
If your stage 1 application is unsuccessful

If your application is unsuccessful, the government will let you know by email. If you think they made an error in our decision that led to your application being refused, you may ask for an internal review.

To request an internal review:

Send an email to [email protected] You must email the government within:

  • 30 calendar days of receiving your notice of refusal if you live in Canada
  • 60 calendar days of receiving your notice of refusal if you live outside of Canada

In your email, explain how:

  • on the date you submitted your application, you met all requirements
  • an error the government made resulted in your application being unsuccessful

Do not include new information that was not included in your original request unless you provided the information at the time of submission. New information that you have not included in your query will not be accepted because of supervision. Requests for internal review must be emailed. An application by email, fax, or in-person shall not be approved by the authority.


Get a temporary work permit

Once the performance agreement is signed, we will give you and your business partner, where appropriate, a letter of approval to obtain a temporary permit to work for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). The letter assists Ontario in coming into Ontario to start the business with you and your parents. IRCC shall be responsible for the issuance in Canada of all work permits.


Establish your business

During the time you are establishing your business, you must check in with the authority on a regular basis. Refer to the Entrepreneur Stream Application Guide to learn more about these requirements.

  • Arrive in Ontario

You must arrive in Ontario with your valid temporary work permit within 12 months from the date you received your letter of confirmation from the OINP. You have to prove that you have arrived in Ontario within seven days of getting here.

  • Build your business

Once you get to Ontario, you have 20 months from the date you arrive to implement your business and meet all commitments under your performance agreement. You must ensure that the required permanent full-time jobs are continuously filled for at least 10 months, up to the day you submit your final report.

OINP officers will monitor your business to make sure you stay on track to meeting your obligations under your performance agreement. You will also be required to provide quarterly reports and a final report to OINP.

  • Submit a final report

You must submit your final report to the government between 18 and 20 months after you arrive in Ontario.

 



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