ONTARIO PNP ENTREPRENEUR STREAM

The Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP) Entrepreneur Stream is designed to attract individuals who are looking to implement a new business initiative or buy an existing business in Ontario.

NOTE:

Updated criteria for the Entrepreneur Stream came into effect on July 8, 2019.

As a result, registrants with an Expression of Interest for the Entrepreneur Stream who had not been invited to apply as of July 8, 2019, will need to register a new Expression of Interest. 

Applications received in response to invitations to apply issued prior to July 8, 2019, will continue to be processed based on the criteria that were in effect prior to July 8, 2019.

Successful applicants will obtain a temporary work permit support letter — based on a performance agreement — to establish the business in Ontario. If the investment and job creation conditions outlined in the performance agreement are adhered to, entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to be nominated by the OINP for Canadian permanent resident status.

The Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP) Entrepreneur Stream operates on an 'Expression of Interest' model, whereby eligible participants must be invited to apply before they may submit a complete application.

This page will cover the following topics about the OINP Entrepreneur Stream: 

OINP Entrepreneur Stream Application Process Overview

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 the 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.

 

Minimum Eligibility Requirements

Minimum Requirements for Applicants

In order to make an Expression of Interest (EOI), prospective entrepreneur applicants must:

  • Have at least 24 months of full-time business experience in the last 60 months as a business owner or senior manager;

    • If the applicant has experience as both a business owner and a senior manager, he or she must choose only ONE to use for the EOI and for the application.

    • As a business owner, the prospective applicant must have had an active role in the business and owned at least one-third of the business.

    • As a senior manager, the prospective applicant must have had senior decision-making responsibilities in the business.

  • Have a minimum net worth, which varies depending on where the business will be located;

    • For businesses located within the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), applicants must have a minimum net worth of $800,000.

    • For businesses located outside the GTA, applicants must have a minimum net worth of $400,000.

    • For businesses in the ICT/Digital Communications sector (regardless of where it will be located), applicants must have a minimum net worth of $400,000.

  • Provide a third-party verification report, prepared by an authorized service provider, in order to demonstrate their net worth.

  • Make a minimum personal investment, which varies depending on the location of the proposed business;

    • Personal investments must be made towards expenditures that are essential to the establishment and operation of the business, excluding cash, cash equivalents, working capital, or wages paid to the entrepreneur applicant or a family member.

    • If the proposed business will be located within the GTA, applicants must make a minimum personal investment of $600,000.

    • If the proposed business will be located outside the GTA, applicants must make a minimum personal investment of $200,000.

    • If the proposed business will be in the ICT/Digital Communications sector (regardless of where it will be located), applicants must make a minimum personal investment of $200,000.

  • Have a minimum equity ownership of 33.3 percent (one-third);

  • For businesses located within the GTA, applicants must commit to creating at least two permanent, full-time jobs for Canadian citizens and/or permanent residents;

  • For businesses located outside the GTA, applicants must commit to creating at least one permanent, full-time job for a Canadian citizen or permanent resident; and 

    • For businesses located within the GTA, if purchasing an existing business, the applicant must create two new full-time permanent positions in addition to the current staff.

    • For businesses located outside the GTA, if purchasing an existing business, the applicant must create one new full-time permanent position in addition to the current staff.

  • Make at least one business-related visit to Ontario in the 12 months prior to submitting the Expression of Interest, if purchasing an existing business.

  • Be actively involved on an ongoing basis in the management of the proposed business.

  • Not invest the capital in the proposed business for the primary purpose of deriving interest, dividends or capital gains.

 

Note: If applying with a business partner who is also seeking nomination, both the entrepreneur applicant and business partner must individually meet all the minimum requirements listed above. The applicant is only permitted to include one foreign national business partner. 

 

Minimum Requirements for Businesses

The proposed business must meet the following general requirements to participate in the Entrepreneur Stream:

  • The purpose of the proposed business must be to make profit through the sale of goods and/or services;

  • Primary income sources must be from active (earned) income, not passive (unearned) income;

  • The proposed business must comply with Canadian legal requirements and all regulatory industry and licensing requirements which govern its legitimate operation;

  • The proposed business must comply with all Ontario labour laws, including but not limited to employment standards, health and safety and labour relations legislation;

  • The proposed business must be considered a permanent business in Ontario; and

  • Third-party investors must be a Schedule I* or Schedule II** bank or an institutional investor.

  • The applicant must submit a business plan.

 

* Schedule I Bank: Domestic (within Canada) banks authorized under the Bank Act to accept deposits, which may be eligible for deposit insurance provided by the Canada Deposit and Insurance Corporation.

** Schedule II Bank: Foreign (outside Canada) bank subsidiaries authorized under the Bank Act to accept deposits, which may be eligible for deposit insurance provided by the Canada Deposit and Insurance Corporation. Foreign bank subsidiaries are controlled by eligible foreign institutions.

 

Requirements for purchasing an existing business:

  • Any existing business must have been in continuous operation by the same owner or group of owners for the last 60 months prior to the applicant's purchase of the business;

    • Proof of ownership and either a letter of intent to purchase the business or sale agreement is required.

  • The purchase must completely transfer ownership from the previous owner(s) to the applicant, his or her business partner, if applicable, and/or any third-party investor(s), if applicable;

  • The proposed business must not have been previously owned/operated by current or former OINP business stream nominees;

  • The applicant must preserve all existing permanent full-time jobs and; 

  • For businesses located within the GTA, if purchasing an existing business, the applicant must create two new full-time permanent positions in addition to the current staff.

  • For businesses located outside the GTA, if purchasing an existing business, the applicant must create one new full-time permanent position in addition to the current staff.

    • The applicant must maintain, at minimum, the current wage levels and employment terms of existing staff; and

  • The proposed business plan must show how the applicant intends to grow the business. 

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;

  • 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, from the time of signing up until nomination. 

The OINP Entrepreneur Business Plan

The business plan is a written document that outlines in detail the proposed business. The OINP Entrepreneur Stream business plan should include:

  • The purpose and objectives of the proposed business (what is selling, who are the customers, and how it will operate).

  • The way in which the proposed business will achieve the purpose and objective.

  • The operational and financial goals of the business.

  • The obstacles that may affect the implementation of the business plan and the achievement of the purpose, objectives and goals. 

  • The entrepreneur's plan to overcome challenges that arise (i.e. sales, advertising, pricing, marketing, competition, industry regulations, cash flow/finances, market conditions, hiring the right people).

 

Entrepreneur candidates who are invited to apply will be required to show how the proposed business will meet the minimum requirements of the OINP and the claims made in the EOI. The OINP states that the content of the business plan is more important than the length. The OINP guide outlines the following business plan sections: Executive Summary, Business Model, Regulatory Requirements, Risk Management, Financial Analysis and People Case.

The OINP also provides sample business plans in the program guide.

Ineligible 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

 

Expression of Interest (EOI)

An EOI is not an application, but rather an expression of the candidate's interest in participating in the OINP Entrepreneur Stream. If an entrepreneur candidates are invited to apply based on the EOI, they may submit a complete application to the Entrepreneur Stream.

 

The EOI model functions on a self-declared points-based system, therefore applicants may claim a score based on the scoring information provided below. The total score will determine whether or not the applicant may receive an Invitation to Apply under the OINP Entrepreneur Stream.

Scoring Factors and Breakdown of Points

Applicants can claim points for factors under three categories: Business Concept, Investment and Human Capital. The maximum score available is 200 points.

 

Investment Factors

Investment Factor 1: Net Worth

Entrepreneur candidates may claim a maximum of 15 points for the Net Worth Investment factor. Personal net worth must be legally obtained and verifiable. Personal net worth includes all assets and those of the applicant's spouse or common-law partner, less any liabilities including mortgages and personal debts. Net worth must be in the applicant's and his or her spouse/common-law partner’s name.

As mentioned in the minimum eligibility requirements section above, there is a minimum requirement for personal net worth to be eligible for the Entrepreneur Stream, which varies according to where the proposed business will be located.

If the applicant has a Business Partner, the partner must also meet the appropriate minimum personal net worth requirement.

Investment Factor 2: Investment Amount

The minimum eligible personal investment must be derived from the applicant's personal net worth. A maximum number of 25 points are awarded for the investment amount. 

Third parties may provide external financing beyond the minimum investment amount if they are a Schedule I or Schedule II bank or an institutional investor. Third-party personal investments are not permitted. Applicants cannot claim points for investments that will be made by a third-party.

In order to be considered an eligible investment, the expenditure must be essential to the establishment and operation of a new business or to purchase, improve and operate an existing business.

If the applicant is purchasing an existing business, he or she must:

  • Invest some funds towards improvement/expansion of the business; and

  • Note that improvement/expansion does not include 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.

 

The following are considered ineligible investments:

  • Cash, cash equivalents or working capital; and

  • Wage payments made to the applicant him/herself and his/her family members.

 

As mentioned in the minimum eligibility requirements section above, there is a minimum requirement for investment amount to be eligible for the Entrepreneur Stream, which varies according to where the proposed business will be located.

If the applicant has a business partner, the partner must also meet the appropriate minimum investment amount requirement.

Even though the OINP does not encourage making investments prior to the signing of the Performance Agreement, the program will accept investments made by invited candidates up to one year before the application date. Applicants must provide proof that investments were made from personal funds. The OINP notes that making an investment prior to applying does not guarantee an application's approval.

Investment Factor 3: Job Creation

Applicants may claim up to 20 points based on the total number of permanent full-time jobs they will create for Canadian citizens or permanent residents within the first 20 months of establishing the business. 

Applicants must demonstrate that they will create at least two permanent full-time jobs for Canadian citizens or permanent residents in order to be eligible under the OINP Entrepreneur Stream, as mentioned in the above minimum requirements section. These jobs must be paid at the prevailing wage rate and must consist of a minimum of 1,560 hours of paid employment in a 12-month period.

If the applicant has a business partner, he or she must also create two jobs, making a total of four new jobs for the proposed business.

Wage Requirements 

The OINP expects that all employees will receive pay for hours worked and be appropriately remunerated based on the information provided by the employer in the proposed business plan. The OINP, however, does not consider pay by piece work, bonuses, commissions, vacation pay or non-financial compensation as comprising part of an employee’s offered wage. An employer may offer an employee piece work, bonuses, commissions, or non-financial compensation in addition to a base pay. In addition, the offered wage must meet or exceed the median wage established by the occupation and region as outlined on the Government of Canada's Job Bank website.

Investment Factor 4: Business-Related Visits

Entrepreneur candidates may claim a maximum of 5 points for any business-related visits to Ontario made within the year prior to the EOI submission. There is no mandatory requirement for exploratory visits, however, if the entrepreneur purchased or is planning on purchasing an existing business, the candidate must make a business-related visit to Ontario to be considered for the OINP Entrepreneur Stream. 

If invited to apply to the OINP Entrepreneur Stream, applicants who claim points for business-related visits to Ontario in their EOI will be required to provide evidence of visits to Ontario, including cities/municipalities visited and the dates when entered and exited Ontario, by submitting at least three of the following forms of verification:

  • Flight itinerary and boarding passes;

  • Accommodation receipts;

  • Summary of meetings including the itinerary;

  • Email correspondence with any business contacts in Ontario;

  • Photographs or meeting notes from the business trip;

  • Business cards or contact information from business interactions.

Investment Factor 5: Key Sector Targeted

Applicants may claim a maximum of 10 points if the proposed business is in a key sector, as determined by the Government of Ontario.

These key sectors have been defined as economic priorities for Ontario:

  • Aerospace

  • Automotive

  • Chemical and Biochemical

  • Cleantech

  • Financial Services

  • Food and Beverage Manufacturing

  • Industrial Automation and Robotics

  • Information Technology

  • Life Sciences

  • Mining

  • Tourism

Investment Factor 6: Business Location

Individuals may claim up to 10 points based on the location of the proposed business.

The OINP uses Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) and Census Agglomeration (CA) data to divide business locations into three broad categories based on population size.

CMAs and CAs are areas consisting of one or more neighbouring municipalities situated around a population centre (known as a core). A CMA is defined as having a total population, of at least 100,000 of which 50,000 or more live in the core. A CA is defined as having a core population of at least 10,000. Some locations may be part of larger categories.

 

Therefore, individuals may find the business location is in a CMA or CA.

Investment Factor 7: National Occupation Classification (NOC) 0, A or B Jobs

Entrepreneur candidates may claim a maximum of 15 points based on the NOC 0, A or B jobs the proposed business will create for Canadian citizens or permanent residents. 

Human Capital Factors

Individuals may claim a maximum of 25 points for business experience. The number of points is based on the individual's past business ownership experience OR senior management experience in the 60 months prior to submitting an EOI. If the individual has both business ownership and senior management experience in 24 of the past 60 months, he or she must choose one of these experiences in the EOI. As mentioned in the minimum eligibility requirements section above, there is a minimum requirement of 36 months of experience to be eligible for the Entrepreneur Stream.

If the applicant has a business partner, the partner must also demonstrate a minimum of 24 months of experience in the last 60 months.

Human Capital Factor 1: Business Owner

Individuals claiming points under the Business Owner factor must have owned at least 33.3 percent of the business during the period claimed as the length of experience. It must also be demonstrated that they held an active role in the business, meaning that the individual was personally involved in the day-to-day operations of the business and had direct involvement in decision-making.

Human Capital Factor 2: Senior Manager

The Senior Manager role must have included senior decision-making responsibilities in areas such as operations, sales, finance, marketing, distribution, human resources, research and development, etc.

Human Capital Factor 3: Specific Experience

Individuals may claim up to 35 points based on their past specific experience in a high growth business and/or in an export trade business if the experience was acquired within the last 60 months. 

  • High Growth Business Experience: experience in a business that experienced at least 20 percent increase in revenue for two consecutive years. Submission of supporting documentation (e.g. financial statements) is mandatory if the individual is invited to apply.

  • Export Trade Business Experience: experience in a business exporting at least 20 percent of total goods/services to a foreign market. Submission of supporting documentation (e.g. financial statements with export declarations, purchase orders, invoices) is mandatory if the individual is invited to apply.

 

Business owners who can provide supporting documentation verifying that their business was a high growth business or an export-trade business may claim these points.

Senior managers who can provide a reference letter from the employer and/or other supporting documentation indicating that their role in the business had a direct decision-making authority or a direct impact on the high growth activity/activities of the business may claim these points. There is no mandatory requirement for specific experience to be considered as an OINP Entrepreneur Stream candidate. 

Human Capital Factor 4: Level of Education

Candidates may claim a maximum of 5 points based on their highest level of education completed. There is no minimum requirement to be considered for the Entrepreneur Stream.

Applicants invited to apply who are claiming to have completed six months or more of post-secondary education will be required to provide evidence of this education, including Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) results.

Note: The OINP will not consider language training (such as English as a Second Language (ESL) courses) towards meeting the post-secondary requirement.

Human Capital Factor 5: Official Language Ability

Entrepreneur candidates may claim a maximum 15 points for the Entrepreneur Stream Official Language Ability factor. While it is not mandatory to demonstrate language abilities in English and/or French in to be considered for the Entrepreneur Stream at the time of submitting the EOI, language proficiency equivalent to Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 4 is required at the time of nomination by OINP.  If applying with a business partner, the partner will also be required to demonstrate a minimum CLB 4 or equivalent at the time of nomination.

Applicants invited to apply will be required to demonstrate their language proficiency with either International English Language Testing System (IELTS) General Test scores, Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP), Test d’Evaluation de Français (TEF) or Test de Connaissance du Français (TCF Canada)

Expression of Interest (EOI) Scoring, Draws, and Processing Periods

Meeting all the minimum requirements does not guarantee that an applicant will be invited to apply to the OINP Entrepreneur Stream. There is no minimum score, as EOIs will be ranked against each other and only top candidates will be invited to apply. If an applicant is applying with a Business Partner, the final score will be calculated using the lowest submitted score of the two candidates. The final score will be used to rank the EOI against other EOI scores received.

 

At the beginning of each Processing Period, a draw will occur, with only the top scoring EOI’s being selected for processing. The final “cut-off” score may vary between Processing Periods due to differences in scores submitted during respective months.

EOIs not selected within 12 months from the date of receipt will be removed from the selection pool. Individuals will be able to re-apply to enter the selection pool after an EOI has been removed.

 

Interview

The entrepreneur applicant (and the business partner, if applicable) will be required to attend a mandatory in-person interview at the OINP’s offices. The purpose of the mandatory interview is for the OINP to better understand the business plan and past experience of the applicant and business partner. Applicants and their business partners are responsible for all transportation arrangements and costs incurred associated with the interview. 

 

Performance Agreement

If the application is approved, the applicant (and Business Partner, if applicable) will be required to sign a Performance Agreement with the Government of Ontario. The Performance Agreement outlines the commitments required in order to be nominated for permanent resident status. This document will include, but may not be limited to:

  • A description of the business (including industry and its location);

  • The investment amounts and timelines;

  • The number and type of jobs to be created for Canadian citizens or permanent residents;

  • Mandatory business milestones and achievements (depending on the specific business); and

  • Timeframes for any commitments.

 

Performance Agreements are unique to each applicant and are based on the information provided in the application (including the EOI), the business plan, and the interview, if applicable. Applicants who fail to satisfy the business commitments outlined in the Performance Agreement will not be eligible for nomination for permanent resident status.

Once the applicant (and his or her Business Partner, if applicable) have signed the agreement, OINP will issue a Letter of Confirmation so that he or she can apply to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) for a temporary work permit. 

 

Business Establishment

After the Performance Agreement is signed, successful applicants must arrive in Ontario with their valid temporary work permit issued by IRCC within one year of the date of the Letter of Confirmation. 

After arrival in Ontario, individuals have up to 20 months to implement the business plan and meet all commitments under the Performance Agreement. Successful applicants are responsible for submitting a Final Report to the OINP between 18 and 20 months after their arrival in Ontario with a valid temporary work permit. The Final Report should demonstrate that the candidate has met all objectives set out in the Performance Agreement.

The required permanent full-time jobs created by the new business must be filled within 10 months of the date of the applicant's arrival in Canada and they must remain filled for at least 10 months, up to the date that the Final Report is submitted to the OINP.

The Final Report along with supporting documentation must be submitted to the OINP in order to initiate the nomination process.

 

Nomination Requirements

Successful nominees must apply to IRCC for permanent resident status within six months of being nominated by OINP. In addition to meeting all obligations of the Performance Agreement, applicants (and their business partners, if applicable) must:

  • Be actively involved in the day-to-day management of the business;

  • Physically reside in Ontario for 75 percent of the year (nine months out of the year) to support the business during the performance agreement period; and

  • Demonstrate CLB 4 or higher in English or French.

 

Federal admissibility requirements, including security and medical background checks, also apply.

 

Invitation History

 

Contact us with any questions regarding business immigration to Canada. We will get back to you timeously to discuss your business immigration and investment options.

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