BC PNP Entrepreneur Immigration: Base Category in 2023

British Columbia offers a variety of Provincial Nominee Programs for entrepreneur immigration. One of those programs is BC PNP Entrepreneur Immigration (EI) Base Category. EI Base Category program is for experienced entrepreneurs ready to invest in and actively manage a business in BC. This guide will help you understand and start on a path toward permanent residency through this immigration stream.

Who Can Apply for BC PNP – Base Category

Entrepreneurs and investors who meet the following requirements are eligible to apply:

  • Personal net worth: at least CAD $600,000
  • Business and/or management experience: 3+ years in the past 10 years. If no business experience, must have the equivalent of a 2-year post-secondary diploma
  • Language skills: basic English or French language skill (CLB level 4 or higher)
  • Education: Post-secondary education (degree, diploma, or certificate) or at least 3 years of business ownership experience in the past 5 years.
  • Legal status: have legal status in the country where you currently live
  • Investment amount: make an eligible personal investment of at least CAD$ 200,000 in the business
  • Business activity: establish an eligible new business or buy and improve an existing business in BC
  • Job creation: create at least one new full-time job for a Canadian citizen or permanent resident

You must meet all the requirements for this program to be nominated by the BC PNP, check your eligibility with our free BC PNP assessment tool. Note that meeting the minimum requirements does not guarantee that you will be invited to apply or that your application will be approved. Investment immigration can be highly complex and require careful consideration in choosing the correct immigration program along with preparing the immigration application. Schedule a 1-hour strategy meeting with our business immigration lawyers to receive tailored advice specific to you and your business goals.

Business Investment Under BC PNP – Base Category

You should invest in or buy a business that will add economic benefits to British Columbia and has a strong potential for sustained commercial success. Businesses deemed to add economic benefits must either be in key economic sectors or meet one of the “significant benefits” factors described below.

The following sectors have been identified as key sectors by the government of British Columbia:

  • Aerospace 
  • Agriculture, Food & Beverage: food production and food processing 
  • Forestry: includes manufacturing of wood products 
  • Mining
  • Aerospace 
  • Agriculture, Food & Beverage: food production and food processing 
  • Forestry: includes manufacturing of wood products 
  • Mining Clean Technology 
  • Digital Media and Entertainment 
  • Information and Communications Technology 
  • Life Sciences 
  • Natural Gas

The following activities are deemed to add “significant economic benefits”: 

  • Succession Planning: purchasing 100% of an existing business in BC outside of the Metro Vancouver area.
  • Adopting new technology: the new technology must not already be in regular use in similar businesses in BC.
  • Innovative Business Models: Employing innovative approaches to traditional businesses (e.g. more efficient processes) that are not already in regular use by similar businesses in BC. 
  • Increasing exports: manufacturing businesses that will engage in significant export activity. This definition does not include businesses that facilitate export/trade, such as trading companies or agencies.
  • Innovation: Readiness to commercialize a proprietary new technology on which R&D is complete.
  • Indigenous Peoples and First Nations: partnering with First Nations communities for businesses that affect the First Nation community and/or largely benefit First Nations communities and/or Indigenous peoples. Registrants must be able to provide evidence of significant interaction with Indigenous Peoples in British Columbia, such as a memorandum of understanding.
  • Regional development: Providing products or services to an under-served local or regional market for which there is a demonstrated demand.
  • Knowledge Transfer: Providing training and support services that facilitate the growth of the technology sector in British Columbia.

Please also remember that the BC PNP will not consider a business proposal for a seasonal business unless you can demonstrate that you will be physically present in British Columbia and will perform an active management role on a year-round basis.

The following websites list businesses for sale in British Columbia:

  • Sobirovs Law Firm – Businesses for Sale
  • Venture Connect
  • Deal Stream
  • Businesssellcanada

Key Selection Factors for Base Category BC PNP

If you meet the minimum eligibility criteria, the BC PNP Entrepreneur Immigration stream uses the points grid to rank candidates who have registered their profiles. The BC PNP Online system will automatically assign points based on your provided information. Officers will verify your information and may adjust your score if necessary. Only those candidates with the most competitive scores and well-presented business concepts will be invited to apply to the program.

Application Process

Entrepreneurs who intend to immigrate under BC PNP – Base Category (Entrepreneur Stream) will be required to take several steps to become eligible to receive a nomination from the Province and apply for permanent residence.

Step 1. Preparation and Research

Start your research by reviewing the program requirements and assessing your eligibility. 

If you think you are eligible to apply under this program, we strongly encourage you to make an exploratory visit to B.C. to learn more about opportunities and the local business environment before you register. 

During your visit, you should: 

  • investigate and evaluate potential business opportunities 
  • conduct market research 
  • make local business contacts 
  • learn more about living and doing business in BC and better understand our health care and education programs, housing, culture, recreation opportunities, and lifestyles. 

Have you considered the Intra-Company Transfer program by the Canadian Federal government?

Step 2: Registration to the BC PNP

To register, you must create a profile with BC PNP online. The registration includes details about your work and/or business experience, education, language ability, net worth, and information about your proposed business in British Columbia. Registrations are typically scored within 6 weeks. The registration fee is $300. Submitting a registration does not guarantee that you will be invited to submit an application. 

Step 3: Application to the BC PNP

If you are invited to apply under the EI – Base Category, you will receive an email notification with instructions on completing an EI – Base Category application and the list of authorized accounting firms to verify your net worth. You will then have approximately 4 months (120 days) from the date of your invitation to submit a complete application. You will be charged a $3,500 (non-refundable) application processing fee.

You may also be invited to attend an in-person interview in Vancouver, BC, to discuss the details of your application. If your application is approved, you must sign a performance agreement outlining all the requirements you must meet to be nominated. Applications are typically assessed within 4 months. If your application is approved, the BC PNP will issue you a letter of confirmation so you can apply for a work permit to IRCC and come to BC to implement your business plan. 

Step 4: Business Plan Implementation 

After obtaining a work permit, you must arrive in BC with your valid work permit within 12 months from the date of your letter of confirmation, begin to implement your business plan, make your investments, and create jobs. Your spouse or common-law partner may apply for an open work permit.

You will have approximately 20 months to implement your business plan, actively manage your business, and satisfy the terms and conditions of your signed performance agreement.

About 18-20 months after your work permit issuance date, you must submit a final report to the BC PNP to demonstrate that you have met the terms and conditions described in your signed performance agreement. You must submit all required supporting documents, including financial statements for the business, signed by a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA). 

Did you know that Canada offers a variety of Investment Immigration programs for foreign entrepreneurs and business people?

Step 5: Nomination

After submitting a Final Report to the BC PNP, the officer will review and evaluate your final report, request additional information, conduct a site visit at your BC business, and/or require that you attend an in-person interview to assess your eligibility for nomination. You must be physically present in Canada when the final report is submitted, and you must also commit to remaining in Canada until a program advisor makes a nomination decision. Final Reports are typically assessed within 4 months

If the BC PNP determines you have met the terms and conditions of your performance agreement, you will be nominated for permanent residence. 

Step 6: Application for Permanent Residence

After you have been approved as a provincial nominee, you and your family members may then apply for permanent residence at IRCC under the Provincial Nominee Class.  IRCC will assess your application for permanent residence to ensure you meet the security and admissibility requirements, including medical and security checks, and that you continue to meet the requirements of the BC PNP.

If IRCC approves your application, you will be issued a permanent resident visa. IRCC may reject your application even after you receive a nomination from the BC PNP, as IRCC is the final decision-making authority on whether to issue you a permanent resident visa.

Frequently Asked Questions about BC PNP Entrepreneur Stream (Base Category)

Below you will find answers to the most commonly asked questions about the topic.

What is considered my personal net worth, and how is it calculated?

Your net worth must be at least CAD $600,000 and calculated as all your assets, including those of your spouse (or common-law partner) and your dependent children, minus any liabilities, including mortgages and personal debts. You can demonstrate your net worth by providing the following supporting documents:

  • cash and assets in bank accounts (e.g., personal and savings accounts)
  • fixed (term) deposits (redeemable/cashable within 12 months)
  • property ownership (e.g., real estate, personal and commercial property ownership)
  • investments in bonds, stocks and mutual funds
  • investments in one or more businesses (current value of your percentage ownership in business(es), excluding stocks held in investment portfolios that have been included under liquid investments above)
  • pensions
  • other assets like jewelry, collectables, etc.

You must also provide documents showing your liabilities, such as real property mortgage(s) or other debts (e.g., personal loans, credit card debt). Future gifts or inheritances cannot be included in your personal net worth.

Do I have to explain the source of funds when providing documents about my net worth?

Yes. Your personal net worth must be legally obtained and verifiable. You must obtain a net worth verification report from a BC PNP-authorized accounting firm. Failure to provide satisfactory evidence to verify your personal net worth and source of funds may result in the refusal of your application.

I was a minority shareholder in my family business. Can I claim points for business ownership experience?

If you owned at least 10% shares in your business, have been personally involved in the day-to-day operations of your family business and had decision-making power, you can claim points for your experience as an active business owner.

An active role means that you are personally on site, involved in the company’s day-to-day operations, and directly involved in decision-making. For example, if you were a shareholder in a corporation and your only responsibility was to attend shareholder meetings, you would not be considered an active business owner-manager as you are not involved in the company’s day-to-day operations.

How do I prove I have active business ownership experience or senior managerial experience?

In general, to be considered an active owner-manager (or a senior manager), you must provide documents from your company that would establish the following:

  • Your role in the company involves management of the organization, department, subdivision, or component of the organization or an essential function within the organization.
  • You supervise and control the work of other managers, supervisors or professional employees.
  • You have the authority to hire and fire or recommend these and other personnel actions, such as promotion and leave authorization.
  • You exercise discretion over the day-to-day operations of the activity or function for which the employee has the authority.

An active role means that you are personally onsite and involved in the company’s day-to-day operations and have direct involvement in decision-making. For example, if you were a shareholder in a corporation and your only responsibility was to attend shareholder meetings, you would not be considered an active business owner-manager as you are not involved in the company’s day-to-day operations.

I do not have a post-secondary education. Can I still apply for this program?

If you do not have a post-secondary credential (such as a degree, diploma or certificate from a licensed post-secondary institution), you must demonstrate that you have experience as an active business owner-manager with 100% ownership of the business for at least 3 years in the past 5 years. The 100% ownership of the business may be shared between you, your spouse and/or your dependent child(ren).

Do I have to reside in BC and manage my business while awaiting nomination?

Yes. To be approved for BC PNP nomination, you must demonstrate that you have been residing within 50 km of the business you operate in BC. In addition, you must also show that you have actively participated in the day-to-day management of your business and have been physically present in BC. for at least 75% of the time while on a work permit.

When do I have to provide my language test results for BC PNP (Entrepreneur stream)? 

If you are not claiming any additional points for your language skills at the registration stage, you can provide your language test results (a minimum language proficiency at CLB 4) when you reach the final report stage before the nomination. However, if you are claiming additional points for your language skills (above CLB 4) in your registration, you must upload a copy of your valid language test results when registering for the program.

I currently reside in the USA as an asylum claimant. Can I apply to this program?

Unfortunately, your application will not likely be approved if you have not been lawfully admitted to the country of current residence or do not have a valid legal status in the USA. Your case may be complicated, as IRCC will not likely issue you a work permit to come to Canada to work on your business.

Also, if you are in Canada without valid immigration status or working without authorization, it is unlikely that the BC PNP will nominate you for this program.

Can I change my business concept after I submit my registration for the BC PNP Entrepreneur Stream?

Before registering for the BC PNP, you must decide on the specific type of business you intend to establish or purchase in BC. The business structure must be clearly defined, and you cannot change or modify your business concept after you submit your registration.

Do I need to buy a business before I submit my application for BC PNP Entrepreneur stream? 

No. If you want to buy an existing business, you must indicate the specific target business in your registration and develop your business plan around that business. Ensure that the current owner has operated the business you intend to buy for at least five years.

Can I buy a franchise in BC and receive a nomination under the PNP program?

Yes, well-established franchises may be considered eligible businesses to invest in under this program. Please remember that the franchise must have a sound financial track record and have been operating for at least five years. If you are invited to apply, your application must also include evidence that you have received support from the franchisor to purchase and operate a franchise location.

Can I buy a farm in BC and receive a nomination under the PNP program?

If you are proposing to establish a new farm/agricultural business or purchase an existing farm/agricultural business, your business plan must demonstrate that you have thoroughly researched the feasibility of your farming operation and have established contact with relevant local stakeholders (e.g., suppliers and service providers) who can provide support to your enterprise. 

Would BC PNP consider my application if I buy a rental property and rent it out?

No. BC PNP would not consider any business that may be a passive investment or where the applicants provide the capital to a business primarily to derive investment income such as interest, dividends or capital gains. The proposed business must be operated primarily to earn profits by providing products and/or services, and where your active, day-to-day business management is required.

Below are examples of businesses that the BC PNP will not consider:

  • bed and breakfasts, hobby farms and home-based businesses 
  • payday loan, cheque cashing, money changing, and cash machine businesses
  • pawnbrokers 
  • tanning salons 
  • DVD rental stores 
  • coin-operated laundries 
  • automated car wash operations 
  • scrap metal recycling 
  • businesses selling used goods (excluding businesses that provide value-added services such as repairs, refurbishing or recycling) 
  • real estate brokerage, insurance brokerage or business brokerage 
  • real estate development activities 
  • goods trading businesses (e.g. import/export), unless value added is demonstrated 
  • businesses involved in producing, distributing or selling pornography or sexually explicit products or services, or providing sexually oriented services 
  • any other type of business that by association would tend to bring the BC PNP or the Government of British Columbia into disrepute 

Can I invest in a senior care house to be nominated for the BC PNP program?

It is possible, but remember that some industries face significant regulatory requirements in Canada, including senior care houses. You must demonstrate that you are aware of and can meet local, provincial and federal regulatory requirements. It is unlikely that the BC PNP will approve your application if you do not properly address the regulatory requirements of doing business in this industry.

Other examples of highly regulated industries include but are not limited to 

  • Agriculture, agri-food & aquaculture
  • Cannabis, tobacco, and alcohol production, distribution or retailing
  • Childcare, schools and educational institutions 
  • Financial services and trading
  • Forestry and mining
  • Healthcare and life sciences
  • Oil and gas
  • Passenger transportation
  • Pharmacology
  • Residential care facilities
  • Telecommunications

Can I have a partner in my business for this program?

Yes. BC PNP allows immigrant entrepreneurs to have partners in their proposed business. In general, you must demonstrate that you will own at least one-third (33.3%) of the business in BC. Suppose your partner is not a Canadian citizen or permanent resident and intends to apply with you for this program. In that case, he/she must also meet all the requirements for the program, including the minimum investment requirements.

How do I invest CAD $200,000 for BC PNP, and what is considered an eligible investment?

You must make a personal investment of at least CAD $200,000 in the proposed business within approximately 20 months after arriving in BC on a BC PNP-supported work permit. The minimum eligible personal investment of CAD $200,000 must be derived from your personal net worth and cannot be borrowed. The proposed investment must also be directed to one business location.

Eligible personal investments may include 

  • purchases of new equipment for your business
  • leasehold improvements
  • new marketing costs
  • regular operating expenses such as rent, wages, utilities, etc.
  • start-up inventory or new inventory related to an improvement/expansion plan
  • purchase of the existing business of up to CAD$150,000.

If you propose to buy an existing business, only the business value portion of the purchase price (up to CAD $150,000) will be considered an eligible investment. Professional fees associated with the business acquisition or the real estate or property cost will not be considered part of the eligible investment. In addition, you must commit to investing at least CAD$50,000 to improve, upgrade and/or expand the business which may include new capital purchases and equipment, leasehold improvements, the introduction of new technology, job creation, etc.

The BC PNP will not consider the following expenses as eligible “improvement or expansion”:

  • regular operating expenses such as recurring inventory, wages, rent, utilities, or maintaining the same levels of marketing or advertising expenses, legal or professional fees, business licenses, etc.
  • establishing a new location or a separate business.
  • purchase of any real estate.
  • purchase of a vehicle unless you can demonstrate that the vehicle is essential to the business.

Should I buy a business before receiving the invitation to apply for the BC PNP program to increase my chances of selection?

No, as the BC PNP will not consider as eligible any investment made before the date you are invited to apply. The BC PNP strongly discourages applicants from making any investment or financial commitment before signing a performance agreement with the BC PNP and obtaining a valid work permit from IRCC. Any investment made before getting approval and a valid work permit is solely at your own risk.

Can I borrow money from a bank to invest in my business under BC PNP?

The BC PNP requires that you make the minimum eligible personal investment from your personal funds. You are required to provide documentation that shows the provenance (source) of your investment and prove that this money, as well as any subsequent personal investment in your business, was drawn from your personal funds. However, you may use external financing from a business partner or financial institution for investments beyond the minimum requirement. 

How long do I need to wait for an invitation to apply after I register my expression of interest for the BC PNP Program?

Invitations to apply draws for the EI Base Category are held periodically. Still, they may be limited due to the provincial annual allocation caps, the BC government’s specific priorities and application processing capacity. 

How do I increase my chances of receiving an invitation under the BC PNP program?

To increase your chances of receiving an invitation to apply (ITA) from the BC PNP program, you should focus on your business concept and not just your score. ITAs based on the applicant’s score only are very limited, and you may not receive an invitation for 6-12 months if your business concept is not aligned with the BC government’s priorities.

For your business concept, work with a professional team to develop a solid plan that implements the following factors:

  • Business location: high-priority region or rural community 
  • Investment: purchase of an existing business rather than a start-up (some exceptions apply)
  • Type of business: priority business sectors

What should I do if I am not invited to apply for the BC PNP? 

Like the Federal Express Entry program, becoming a qualified registrant in the pool does not guarantee that you will be invited to apply. You can use several strategies to improve your score by developing a new business concept, conducting more research into the business environment in BC, or enhancing your adaptability and submitting a new registration. You can also submit a registration under a different category, but you must withdraw your current registration before doing so.

How does BC PNP assess applications from entrepreneurs in the EI Base Category?

Officers first verify that applicants meet the eligibility criteria for the program and that their score and business concept provided at the registration time is consistent with the documentary evidence provided at the application stage.

Next, the officer evaluates the following factors:

  • whether your entry will benefit the economic development of BC. 
  • your ability and intention to permanently settle and become economically established in BC.
  • whether you have entered or intend to operate a business solely to gain immigration status in Canada (genuineness of intentions).
  • whether the information provided about your application is accurate, complete and reliable.
  • whether you will provide active and ongoing management of the eligible business from within BC.

After a review of your application, the BC PNP may either offer you an opportunity to respond to any concerns regarding your application or contact you to attend an interview.

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