Immigrant Investor and Entrepreneur Programs terminated… now what?

On February 11, 2014, Economic Action Plan 2014 announced the Canadian Government intends to terminate the Immigrant Investor Program (IIP) and Federal Entrepreneur Program (FEP) in order to adopt new pilot programs specifically targeted to meeting Canada’s labour market and economic needs.  The IIP program allowed potential immigrants with business experience, high net worth and cash to make a guaranteed, interest free investment to the Canadian government in exchange for permanent resident.  The FEP allowed experienced business people to come to Canada for the purpose of owning and managing a business that would create jobs and contribute to the economy.  However, the programs were not providing sufficient long-term economic benefit to Canada and therefore will be replaced with more targeted programs.

While the IIP program did not allow a foreign investor to choose where the money went, the FEP program allowed potential immigrants with business experience to buy into and become a manager of qualifying businesses as a path to residency.  It also allowed Canadian businesses to benefit from foreign investment and expertise through partnership with foreign entrepreneurs looking to relocate to Canada.  Without the FEP, the question is what other options are available for attracting qualified foreign nationals looking to relocate to Canada permanently?

Entrepreneur Start-Up Visa:

One option for residency through foreign investment is the Entrepreneur Start-Up Visa.  The Start-Up Visa, originally designed as a pilot program, grants permanent residency to immigrant entrepreneurs while assisting them to become established in Canada.  Successful applicants partner with private sector organizations in Canada to receive funding, guidance, and expertise in operating a successful business in Canada.  In order to be eligible for a Start-Up Visa, an applicant must show:

  • the business venture or idea is supported by a designated venture capital fund, designated angel investor group, or designated business incubator (as listed on the CIC website) by submitting a letter of support showing the minimum investment threshold in one category has been reached
  • that you are able to meet the minimum language requirements in either English or French (CLB 5 in all abilities)
  • proof of completion of at least one year of post secondary education and that you were in good standing during that year
  • proof of sufficient settlement funds determined by the size of your family

In addition to the above criteria, an applicant must show that they plan to reside on a province other than Quebec and they (and any family or dependents) must pass Canadian security and medical clearances. Finally, no more than 5 foreign nationals may apply for permanent residency under the same start-up business plan. In order to prevent fraud, a CIC officer may ask for a peer review of any proposal in order to ensure that it is genuine.

Provincial Nomination Programs:

While the federal Entrepreneur Program has been discontinued, some provinces still offer an avenue to permanent residency through Business Investment Programs. For example, British Columbia requires a minimum net worth of $400,000-$800,000 (depending on location), a minimum investment of $200,000-$400,000 plus 1/3 ownership of an eligible company (once again, location specific), and create 1-3 jobs for Canadians or permanent residents.  Applicants sign a performance agreement and arrive in BC on a two-year work permit.  Once the performance agreement is fulfilled, they will be nominated for permanent residency.

NAFTA Investor Program:

Under NAFTA, citizens of Mexico and the United States who invest in a new or existing business may be eligible to apply for an investor work permit to manage their business.  In order to qualify for the work permit, the NAFTA investor must show that there has been a significant investment and they want to enter Canada for the purpose of developing and directing the business.

New Pilot Programs:

Upon announcing the termination of the IIP and EP programs, the government has indicated there will be new pilot programs for an Immigrant Investor Venture Capital Fund and a new Business Skills Program.

For more information about any of the above entrepreneur categories, please contact

Parent and Grandparent Sponsorship Cap Filled

After only a month, the Parent and Grandparent sponsorship program has reached the maximum number of applications that will be accepted this year.  The program, previously closed to address backlogged application, re-opened on January 2, 2014 and had a limit of 5,000 on applications.  It allows Canadian citizens and permanent residents to sponsor parents or grandparents for permanent residency.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) issued a statement saying: “As Citizenship and Immigration Canada has now received 5,000 complete application, new intake into the [Parent and Grandparent] program will again pause until next year, as we devote our energy to reuniting more families.  By the end of 2014, we expect to welcome an additional 20,000 parents and grandparents to Canada, marking a substantial reduction in wait times for all applicants.“

Parents and Grandparents are still eligible to apply for long-term visitor status under the popular Super Visa program.  The Super Visa allows parents and grandparents of Canadian citizens and permanent residents to visit for up to two years.  The Super Visa is valid for multiple entries over a 10-year period.

For more information please contact

Changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program

On December 31, 2013, amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR) came into force.  Combined with new Ministerial Instructions issued by the Minister of Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC), there are a number of new and important changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program those employers seeking a positive Labour Market Opinion (LMO) need to be aware of.

1.  New LMO conditions imposed on employers

Effective December 31, 2013, employers with a positive LMO from ESDC/Service Canada are required to retain any document that relates to compliance with the LMO’s conditions for a period of six years, beginning on the first day of the period of employment for which the work permit was issued.  For the same period, employers must also be able to demonstrate the accuracy of any information provided in an LMO application, including all advertising and recruitment efforts.

Employers are required to make reasonable efforts to provide a workplace that is free of abuse.  Employers are also required to hire or train, or make reasonable efforts to hire or train, Canadians or permanent residents, if that was one of the factors that led to the issuance of the work permit.

There is a NEW LMO application form and any old forms received on or after December 31, 2013 will not be processed.

2. New authority to conduct inspections

ESDC now has the authority to conduct workplace inspections without a warrant to verify compliance with immigration and employment requirements for LMO-based work permits.  The inspection period is for 6 years, starting on the first day of employment under an LMO-based work permit.  These are different from the employer compliance review (ECR) that occurs in the context of the assessment of an LMO application.

As part of the inspection, employers will be required to demonstrate compliance with the IRPR and the conditions of the LMO.  ESDC/Service Canada will have the authority to verify compliance by:

  • Requiring employers to provide documents that relate to compliance
  • Conduct on-site inspections without a warrant (private dwellings are excluded, and in most cases, notice will be given to the employer); and
  • Interview foreign workers or Canadian employees, by consent

3. Penalties for non-compliance 

If an employer is found to be non-compliant, the employer will have the opportunity to provide justification and to take corrective action, where applicable, before a determination of non-compliance is made.

If a determination of non-compliance is made, an employer will be deemed ineligible to hire foreign workers for a period of 2 years.  Employers will have their name, address, and period of ineligibility published on a public ban list, be issued negative LMOs on any pending applications, and may have previously issued LMOs revoked.

4. Changes to ECRs

ECRs, conducted as part of the LMO assessment at the time of application, have also changed.  The major change increases the period of time that ESDC may review an employer’s compliance regarding wages, working conditions and occupation from 2 to 6 years.

5. LMO bars based on government public policy

ESDC/Service Canada may refuse to process LMO applications based on public policy considerations the government may choose to introduce for selected sectors, regions, or occupational groups.  ESDC is required to publish any information related to any decisions made by the government regarding refusal to process LMO application for any sectors, regions, or occupations.

For more information, please contact

CEC class changes

On November 8, 2013, changes to the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) were announced.  Effective immediately, a maximum of 12,000 new permanent resident applications will be considered for processing each year under the CEC class.  CEC applicants must claim at least 12 months of work experience in one or more eligible NOC Skill Type 0, Skill Level A or Skill Level B occupations.  The current year for the 12,000-applicant cap is November 9, 2013 to October 31, 2014 and subsequently, November 1 to October 31 each year.

In addition to the 12,000-application limit, a further restriction of 200 complete applications yearly applies for each occupation at Skill Level B (per the 2011 version of the National Occupational Classification).  Furthermore, the government has designated six occupations as ineligible occupations for which work experience cannot be used.  The six occupations are: administrative officers, administrative assistants, accounting technicians and bookkeepers, retail sales supervisors, food service supervisors and cooks.

For more information, please contact