Business Immigration

Business immigration is a facilitative pathway which helps foreign entrepreneurs to establish and manage a business in British Columbia. Immigration can also help you attract skilled workers from around the world.

Workers in British Columbia must be citizens or permanent residents of Canada, or have authorization – a work permit – from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). Some foreign workers may also be required to have a valid visa to enter Canada.

What are the options to hire talent in B.C.?

BC PNP: The BC Provincial Nominee Program - Skills Immigration

The BC Provincial Nominee Program (BC PNP) Skills Immigration and Express Entry BC stream offers immigration pathways to foreign workers who have the skills, experience and qualifications needed by B.C. employers. Foreign workers can apply to the Skills Immigration stream as a Skilled Worker, International Graduate, International Post-Graduate, Healthcare Professional, or Entry Level and Semi-skilled worker.
The BC PNP selects and nominates potential immigrants based on their ability to contribute to the economy in B.C. Individuals who are nominated by the BC PNP can apply for a work permit without a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).
Successful nominees are eligible to apply to IRCC for permanent residence for themselves and their dependents under the accelerated Provincial Nominee Class and receive work permit support letters while waiting for permanent residence.

IRCC: Temporary Foreign Worker Program

The Temporary Foreign Worker Program enables you to hire foreign workers to fill temporary skills shortages. Prior to employing a foreign worker, employers are usually required to apply to Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC)/Service Canada for an LMIA.
An LMIA verifies that there is a need for a foreign worker and that no Canadians are available to do the job. Once a positive LMIA is issued, the foreign worker can apply to IRCC for a work permit.

IRCC: International Mobility Program

LMIAs are not required under the International Mobility Program (IMP). Exemptions from the LMIA process are based on economic, cultural or other competitive advantages for Canada, as well as reciprocal benefits for Canadians and permanent residents.
To hire a temporary worker through the IMP, you will need to pay an employer compliance fee and submit an offer of employment form to IRCC through the IRCC employer portal. This must be done before the temporary foreign worker can apply for a work permit.

IRCC: Global Skills Strategy

The Global Skills Strategy (GSS) is a federal government initiative designed to attract and expedite the entry of global, highly skilled and qualified talent to support Canadian companies to grow and scale up. The objective of the GSS is to help companies with significant investments in Canada bring in the highly skilled talent they need to succeed.
This is done through dedicated and expedited service delivery offered by IRCC and ESDC, with the help of designated referral partners. The BC PNP is one of the designated referral partners, offering referral services under the GSS for the Dedicated Service Channel (DSC) and Global Talent Stream (GTS). For more information, please visit the BC PNP website.

Global Affairs Canada: NAFTA LMIA Exemptions

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is the comprehensive legal framework for duty-free trade between Canada, the United States and Mexico. It also allows American and Mexican citizens to work in Canada under one of the specific LMIA-exempt categories: NAFTA Intra-company transferees, NAFTA Professionals, NAFTA Traders and NAFTA Investors.


What are the options to establish a business in B.C.?

BC PNP: The BC Provincial Nominee Program – Entrepreneur Immigration and Strategic Projects

The Entrepreneur Immigration stream of the BC PNP is a path to immigrate to Canada and settle in B.C. for experienced entrepreneurs who can support innovation and economic growth in the province. For entrepreneurs who want to immigrate to B.C. and are ready to invest in and actively manage a business in B.C. may qualify for the Entrepreneur Immigration stream.
For entrepreneurs who are looking to establish a business operation in B.C., the Strategic Projects category of the BC PNP enables foreign-controlled companies to set up a branch office or other operating facility in B.C. The company can propose up to five key staff members who intend to settle in B.C. and who will actively manage the operation in B.C.
Review the Entrepreneur Immigration and Strategic Projects requirements and processes on the BC PNP website, or in this brief information sheet, available in seven languages.

IRCC: Start-up Visa Program

Canada’s Start-up Visa Program targets immigrant entrepreneurs with the skills and potential to build businesses in Canada that are innovative, can create jobs for Canadians and can compete on a global scale.


Who can help me?

If you are considering locating a new business here, contact us for confidential, knowledgeable advice.
Representatives from Trade and Invest BC and the Immigration Programs Branch of the B.C. provincial government are available to help potential business immigrants to learn more about business opportunities in Canada.
Questions about the labour market, business environment and tax credits, import and export opportunities, as well as local health care, education, culture, recreation, and lifestyle can also be answered.
Services offered:
  • A single point of contact to explore business location and expansion opportunities in British Columbia
  • Prompt and professional service to help you find the best location for your business anywhere in British Columbia
  • Customized assistance with navigating the permanent and temporary immigration options such as the BC PNP, IRCC’s Express Entry and the Intra Company Transfer process, to meet your company’s specific needs
  • Referral services under the GSS for the Dedicated Service Channel (DSC) and Global Talent Stream (GTS)
Visit our services page for more information on investor services and resources.