Starting a Business in Canada for Foreigners

Canada offers excellent opportunities for launching a business. It boasts a skilled workforce, access to substantial government grants and tax credits, a reasonable cost of living, and avenues for securing venture capital and seed funding. 

The advantages of running a business in Canada extend beyond its citizens, as foreign entrepreneurs also have numerous options. 

Although the process may require additional effort, these crucial insights will help you start a business in Canada as a foreigner.

Business Opportunities in Canada for Foreigners

Canada offers a diverse range of business opportunities for foreigners. From technology and healthcare to agriculture and manufacturing, the possibilities are vast. Conduct thorough market research to identify sectors with high demand and growth potential.

Three Ways to Start a Business in Canada

Here are three different ways to start a business in Canada, some of which don’t require you to be physically present in the country. However, it may require the participation of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident. 

1. Expand Your Existing Business into Canada

If you presently manage an established enterprise in another region and aim to broaden your business into Canada, establishing an office or subsidiary for your existing business is a simple process for non-residents.

While Canadian citizenship or permanent resident status is not obligatory, you will probably require the participation of someone possessing these credentials to advance.

If you intend to operate in multiple provinces or territories, you must enroll as an extra-provincial corporation with each, adhering to their specific regulations. Certain provinces, such as Ontario, mandate non-residents to engage an agent for service for the extra-provincial corporation registration.

This individual can be a Canadian citizen, a permanent resident aged 18 or older, or a corporation with a registered office within the province.

2. Start a Business from Outside of Canada

Even if you wish to initiate a completely new enterprise in Canada while residing abroad, there’s no obligation to immigrate. The Investment Canada Act is specifically designed to oversee non-Canadians starting a new Canadian business or gaining control of an existing Canadian business.

It’s possible to start and operate a business in Canada without relocating, but it will likely necessitate the involvement of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident company director. Additionally, you’ll require a local representative to assist in the incorporation process.

Given that each province and territory has its unique rules, regulations, and fees, registering your business in Ontario or other provinces will vary. Nonetheless, in most jurisdictions, it is a prerequisite for a Canadian citizen or a landed permanent resident to hold at least partial ownership of the company.

3. Immigration Options for Starting a Business in Canada as a Foreigner

 The Start-Up Visa initiative is designed to assist individuals with business immigration to Canada and launching a business. The program outlines specific criteria for qualifying business types.

Prospective candidates must submit a business idea that:

  • Demonstrates innovation
  • Has the potential to generate employment opportunities for Canadians
  • Can compete at a global level

In addition to meeting the business qualification criteria, non-residents must satisfy Canadian language proficiency standards and demonstrate financial capability to settle in Canada. Individuals aspiring to establish a business in Quebec must adhere to the province’s requirements for immigrant entrepreneurs.

Applicants must also secure support from one of the designated organizations to be eligible for the program (venture capital/angel investors).

Self-employed Persons Program

Another avenue for immigration to Canada and business initiation is the Self-employed Persons Program, which focuses on high-achieving arts, entertainment, and sports businesses.

To qualify, individuals must:

  • Showcase relevant experience in cultural activities or athletics.
  • Express a commitment to substantially contributing to cultural or athletic life in Canada.

Examples of eligible candidates include actors, musicians, and athletes. Evaluation criteria encompass experience, education, age, language proficiency, and adaptability and are subject to medical and security assessments.

Four Steps to Start a Business and Move to Canada as a Foreigner  

To start a business and move to Canada as a foreign national, follow these four steps:

Step 1: Obtain a multi-entry visa: Consider acquiring a multi-entry visa, allowing you to enter and exit Canada freely for up to 10 years. This is particularly useful for researching business locations and familiarizing yourself with citizenship requirements.

Step 2: Register your business: You can register your business from anywhere globally. Be aware of jurisdiction-specific requirements, such as the need for a Canadian citizen or permanent resident as a company director in some cases.

Step 3: Apply for an LMIA: To operate your business, apply for a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) to ensure it doesn’t negatively impact the Canadian job market. Provide a detailed business plan and demonstrate the intention to hire Canadian citizens or permanent residents.

Step 4: Apply for a work permit: Once you receive a positive LMIA, apply for a Canada work permit, which is essential for conducting business in Canada. The application process may take several months, but you can potentially apply at the Canadian border if you have a Temporary Resident Visa or Visitor Visa to the United States. Consider hiring an immigration lawyer for assistance in navigating the complex application process.

How We Can Help You to Start a Business in Canada as Foreigners

At Chaudhary Law Office, our skilled immigration lawyers in Canada specialize in assisting entrepreneurs in fulfilling their Canadian business goals. We provide expert guidance on the legal aspects, immigration processes, and strategic planning to ensure a successful business venture. Our experienced immigration lawyers are committed to helping you navigate the legal complexities of starting a business in Canada as a foreigner. 

 Contact Chaudhary Law Office today at 416-447-6118 for expert guidance and support from our skilled immigration lawyers.


 What are the requirements for a start-up visa in Canada?

The requirements for a start-up visa in Canada include a qualifying business, a letter of recommendation from a designated organization, and sufficient settlement funds.

What is the minimum investment for foreigners to start a business in Canada?

The minimum investment varies depending on the immigration program. The Start-Up Visa Program typically requires a minimum investment of $200,000.

Can I start a business in Canada without residency?

Yes, it is possible to start a business in Canada without residency. However, obtaining the right visa or work permit is crucial for legal operation on a medium to long-term basis.

What business can an immigrant do in Canada?

Immigrants in Canada can explore various business opportunities, including technology, healthcare, retail, and service-oriented ventures.  Passive management businesses such as property accumulation, property management, or laundrymats are discouraged. 

Can foreigners get business loans to start a company in Canada?

Yes, foreigners can access business loans in Canada. However, eligibility criteria and terms may vary depending on the circumstances.

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