British Columbia Startup Visa Program

The British Columbia (BC) Startup Visa Program is an exciting pathway for international entrepreneurs who wish to immigrate to British Columbia (B.C.) and establish businesses that contribute to innovation and economic growth in the province. This guide aims to provide you with a clear and easy roadmap for the BC Startup Visa program.

Why should you consider Investing in British Columbia?

British Columbia is a welcoming province known as Canada’s West Coast capital of opportunity. It gives ample opportunities for innovators, thinkers and creative entrepreneurs.

The business environment allows start-ups to grow sustainably and inclusively, creating a dynamic environment where small and big companies work together in a highly business-friendly competitive environment.

Sustainable Economy and Business Climate

BC boasts a stable economy and business-friendly business environment. A competitive business environment, streamlined regulations and a pro-business tax system make it easy to get started. It is also a vibrant hub for business growth with two of Canada’s largest seaports and abundant natural resources.

Inclusive Environment

A strong economy can only thrive in a healthy society. Economic growth is driven by nurturing talents from different cultures, promoting investment, and fostering innovation. An inclusive society gives opportunities to all, and wealth is broadly shared in terms of a competitive market environment and without prejudice.

Innovative Hub

In the past few years, more unicorn companies have emerged from B.C. than anywhere else in Canada. Some of the province’s growing innovative sectors are agri-technology, artificial intelligence, AR/VR, hydrogen energy, mass timber, and marine.

Quality of Life

Undoubtedly, BC boasts a world-class quality of life. Robust municipal public services ensure the safety and security of the public and maintain recreational facilities and community centres. The provincial government well manages the healthcare system, education, and highways.

Rich Natural Resources

The province boasts a wide area of forested land where sustainable forestry is practised. The varied terrain and temperate climate provide great opportunities for agriculture, seafood, and food processing industries.

Top Talents

Some of the world’s great researchers and computer science engineers come from B.C. Vancouver ranks among the top ten best markets for tech talent in North America (CBRE), ahead of Ottawa and Montreal.

Important Factoids

Here are some important facts regarding the business sector of British Columbia:

  • GDP: $242.4B
  • Median Household Income: $99.6K
  • Top 5 Trading Partners by Exports: USA, China, Japan, South Korea, India
  • Labour Force Participation: 65.2%
  • Agri-Tech: Over 150 Agri-tech Companies in B.C
  • Total Workforce: 2.9M
  • Unemployment Rate: 5.2%
  • Median Individual Income: $42,060
  • Top Occupations: Sales, Trades, Transportation and Equipment Operations, Business & Finance, Applied Science, Education, Law & Govt. Services

Profit-Making Investment Opportunities in British Columbia

British Columbia is a hub for various investment opportunities across different sectors. Investors can confidently explore several key areas to find these lucrative prospects.

Direct or Indirect Acquisitions

Purchasing an existing business directly does not need a government review. However, when specific thresholds are met, acquisitions are scrutinized before merging under the Investment Canada Act.

  • If the Canadian business’ assets are valued at $50 million or more, a review is required in the case of an indirect acquisition, such as acquiring a parent company of a business in British Columbia.
  • If the Canadian business accounts for over 50% of the acquired company’s assets.

Technology and Innovation Sector

British Columbia has a thriving tech industry, focusing on AI, AR/VR, gaming, clean technology and cyber security. There are many investment opportunities in cities like Vancouver, Victoria and Kelowna.

Natural Resources

With rich natural resources and a broad swathe of forestry, entrepreneurs can explore unique ideas in sustainable forestry practices, mineral exploration and development, and renewable energy projects.

Tourism

The tourism and hospitality sectors generate a lot of revenue and massive employment in the province. There are many opportunities to innovate in outdoor recreational activities, cultural attractions, hotels/resorts, homestays, eco-tourism ventures, and more.

Healthcare and Biotechnology

BC has a growing healthcare sector, particularly in the pharmaceutical industry and biotechnology. Other opportunities are available in telemedicine, health informatics, and healthcare services.

Education and Training

British Columbia’s exemplary education system draws students from across the globe. Various investment prospects are available in private educational institutions, vocational training programs, online learning platforms, and educational technology startups.

Common Eligibility Criteria – Start-Up Visa Program

The British Columbia Start-Up Visa program aims to facilitate innovative foreign entrepreneurs who will create new jobs and contribute to the province’s economy. Here are the key requirements for this program:

  1. Objective: The program aims to enable innovative foreign entrepreneurs to create new jobs and contribute to the province’s economy.
  2. Express Entry: Not required.
  3. Job Offer: Not required.
  4. Language Proficiency: Minimum CLB Level 5 in English or French or above.
  5. Level of Education: Post-secondary degree obtained within the last ten years (Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) required).
  6. Work Experience: A minimum of 6 months of work experience as a business owner or manager.
  7. Investment Support: Demonstrate support from a venture capital fund, angel investor, or business incubator.
  8. Voting Rights: Must have at least 10% voting rights attached to all shares of the company.
  9. Settlement Funds: Demonstrate sufficient settlement funds to support yourself and any dependents.
Start Business in BC through British Columbia Startup Visa

About the British Columbia Entrepreneur Immigration Program

The British Columbia Entrepreneur Immigration Program offers several streams for entrepreneurs looking to establish businesses in B.C.

1. Base Stream

  • Minimum personal assets valued at CAD$600,000.
  • Possess business acumen or a 2-year post-secondary diploma (in case of no business experience).
  • Intermediate English or French proficiency equivalent to Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) level 4.
  • Legally reside in the current country.
  • Either hold legal immigration status in Canada or qualify for it.
  • Must have established an eligible new business or improved an existing one.
  • A personal investment of at least CAD$200,000 is required.
  • Create at least one full-time job for a Canadian citizen or permanent resident.
  • Registration fee: CAD$300
  • Application fee: CAD$3,500

2. Regional Pilot Stream

  • Designed for entrepreneurs interested in establishing businesses in smaller communities.
  • Initially launched in March 2019 and extended until March 31, 2024.
  • Communities participating in Phase 2 of the EI Regional Pilot have specified types of businesses they are interested in. They seek entrepreneurs with skills in managing these specific business types.

3. Strategic Projects Stream

  • For foreign companies with recognized strategic investment prospects in B.C.
  • Provides a platform for setting up operations crucial to advancing the primary business.
  • Foreign corporations can relocate essential personnel possessing in-depth corporate understanding and skills to B.C.
  • Option to seek provincial nomination to support permanent residency for up to five existing senior employees actively overseeing operations in British Columbia.

BC PNP EI – Base Stream

Designed for entrepreneurs who want to establish or invest in BC-based businesses.

BC PNP Regional Pilot Program

Designed for foreign nationals looking to start and run a business in smaller communities across British Columbia.

BC PNP Strategic Projects

This stream targets highly successful foreign companies aiming to expand their operations in B.C.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Here are some frequently asked questions about the British Columbia Startup Visa:

What is the application process for the startup visa program?

The first thing you need to do is to talk to a designated organization. You must prepare a compelling presentation to convince them to support your start-up company. If they decide to support you, they will issue a support letter.

How much money do I need for my living expenses when I get to Canada?

The amount depends on the number of family members accompanying you. In some cases, designated organizations also sponsor additional funds for living expenses. However, you cannot utilize your investment amount to pay your living expenses.

Can I immigrate together with my team?

Yes, you can. Up to five team members are allowed. It depends on the scrutiny of designated organizations.

For more information on the British Columbia Startup Visa Program, please contact our immigration experts.

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