Ontario Business Immigration – Here’s All You Need To Know!

Ontario Entrepreneur Stream

Entrepreneurs outside Canada can apply for the Ontario Entrepreneur Stream under the Ontario Immigration Nominee Program (OINP). This stream is for entrepreneurs interested in starting a new business or buying an existing business in Ontario. This article discusses the requirements for the Ontario Entrepreneur Stream.

Ineligible Business

Before considering OINP entrepreneur stream, understand that your proposed business will be ineligible if it is one of the listed below:

  1. automated car wash business
  2. holding companies
  3. laundromats
  4. pawnbrokers
  5. pay day loan and related businesses
  6. scrap metal recycling
  7. tire recycling
  8. a business involved in producing, distributing or selling pornography or sexually explicit products or services, or providing sexually oriented services
  9. businesses which have been previously owned or operated by a current or former OINP Entrepreneur Stream nominee or a nominee under the former investor component of the Opportunities Ontario program

In addition, below mentioned businesses in Greater Toronto Area are also ineligible:

  1. existing franchises in Ontario (new foreign franchises expanding into Ontario are permitted)
  2. gas stations
  3. bed and breakfasts

Ontario Entrepreneur Stream Eligibility Requirements 

1. Business Plan

Applicants need to provide a detailed proposal for their business plan in Ontario. Further, the business proposal if in GTA must create full-time jobs for at least 2 Canadian citizens or permanent residents. If the business is to be located outside of GTA or in the information and communications technology or digital communications sector regardless of the location, must create at least one full-time job for Canadian citizens or permanent residents. These jobs must:

  • be paid at the median wage level for the position
  • be filled continuously for at least 10 months prior to submitting the final report
  • continue to exist at the time of final report and nomination
2. Work Experience

To be eligible, the applicant must possess at least 24 months of full-time business experience in the last 60 months or five years. Moreover, the applicant must be either a business owner or senior manager making decisions and handling daily operations. 

3. Language Proficiency

The official application to ONIP requires applicants to have a minimum of CLB Level 4 or higher in English or French. Click here for CLB/NCLC language equivalency chart.

4. Residency Requirement

Applicants must reside in Ontario for at least 75% of the time when establishing their business. 

5. Financial Requirements 

Candidates need to demonstrate a significant net worth and investment for this stream. The amount depends on the type of business and its location; if the proposed business is: 

  • Located in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA): For businesses inside GTA (City of Toronto and Durham, Halton, York and Peel regions) an applicant must have a minimum of $800,000 net worth. Out of this, make a personal investment of at least $600,000 and control at least one-third of the business equity.  
  • Outside Greater Toronto Area (GTA): Applicants should have a minimum net worth of $400,000 if their business is outside GTA. Out of which, make a personal investment of at least $200,000 and control at least one-third of business equity.  
  • Information Communication Technology or Digital Communication sector: If the business proposal is in the IT or Digital Communication sector, regardless of the location, the applicant must have a net worth of at least $400,000 and make a personal investment of $200,000.
6. Business Partner

You can submit your application with a business partner, but ensure that both meet all minimum requirements. Only one business partner is permitted. 



Additional requirements if purchasing an existing business in Ontario

Entrepreneurs planning on buying an existing business, then

  • 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 (proof of ownership and either a letter of intent to purchase the business or sale agreement is required)
  • ownership of the business must be completely transferred to the applicant or any business partner
  • the previous owner(s) cannot retain any shares of the business
  • 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 jobs in the business prior to the transfer of ownership
  • the proposed business must not have been previously owned/operated by current or former OINP business stream nominees.

How does Ontario Entrepreneur Stream work? 

OINP Entrepreneur Stream application process is divided into two stages.

Stage 1: Initially, you will need to register for an express of interest visa email to OINP. If you are invited by OINP, then you will need to submit an online application. Following this, you (and your business partner) will be called for an interview. After clearing the interview, then you will have to sign a performance agreement with OINP.

Stage 2: Applicant is granted a work permit support letter using which they can apply for a work permit. This work permit is allow you enter Canada and establish your business. Furthermore, applicants have 20 months after arrival in Ontario to implement their business plan and submit a final report. OINP then reviews your report and if your business meet all the requirements, then a provincial nomination is issued for permanent residence.

Click here to download Application Guide: Ontario Entrepreneur Stream