It is extremely common for politicians to state that small businesses are the lifeblood of the Canadian economy. It is accordingly surprising how many roadblocks the Canadian government imposes on foreign entrepreneurs seeking to work and immigrate to Canada. In both the Canadian Experience Class and Express Entry, for example, Canadian work experience does not count towards immigration if that experience was obtained through self-employment. Notwithstanding this, while the pathway for an entrepreneur to work in, and immigrate to, Canada can often be less straightforward than for employees, there are numerous pathways to both temporary and permanent residency status in Canada.

We have extensive experience representing entrepreneurs in their applications for Canadian work permits. We also help them immigrate.

Work Permit Programs

There are several work permit programs that entrepreneurs should be aware of, including:

  • the Owner-Operator recruitment variation in the Labour Market Impact Assessment program;
  • the Significant Benefit Work Permit Program;
  • the North American Free Trade Agreement, the Canada – European Union Comprehensive Agreement on Trade and Services, the Canada – Colombia Free Trade Agreement, the Canada – Chile Free Trade Agreement, the Canada – Peru Free Trade Agreement and the Canada – Korea Free Trade Agreement, all of which contain Investor provisions; and
  • the fishing camp operator and outfitter programs; and
  • the provincial nomination programs.

Permanent Residency Programs

There are permanent residency programs that entrepreneurs should be aware of, including:

  • the Federal Skilled Worker Class, which permits self-employment;
  • the Start-Up Visa Program, which allows individuals who have received the backing of designated venture capital funds, angel investor groups and business incubators to immigrate;
  • the Self-Employed Class, which allows people with self-employment in the cultural and athletic industries to obtain permanent residency; and
  • most provinces provincial nomination programs, nearly all of which contain entrepreneur streams.


Some of our recent experiences assisting entrepreneurs in either obtaining work permits or permanent residency include:

Marketing Agency

An individual specializing in producing reports on Middle Eastern and North African affairs wanted to relocate his business to Canada. We represented him in a successful Labour Market Impact Assessment application relying on the Owner – Operator recruitment variation.

Technology Start-up

A highly talented international graduate founded a technology company after he graduated. As his work permit neared expiry his investors and business partners started to get nervous about the longevity of the business. We successfully submitted to the British Columbia Provincial Nomination Program why they should grant him an exemption from the normal requirement that a person not own more than 10% of their business in the Skilled Worker program, as well as an exemption to the requirement that an employer have 5 employees, to secure his nomination, and eventual permanent residency.

Investor Immigration

An individual who had applied for permanent residency in the now defunct Federal Immigrant Investor Program had his application refused because an officer determined that experience at a state-owned bank did not constitute “management experience.” We successfully had this refusal overturned in the Federal Court of Canada.

Athletic Coach

An Iranian had several years of self-employment running a series of gyms in Iran. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada determined that this met the requirements of the Self-Employed Class, and the individual was able to immigrate.

Scope of Representation

We are flexible in how we structure the representation of employers in their immigration needs. We offer services on an hourly, flat-fee or portfolio basis, as determined by the employer.

Contact Us Today

We’re here to help!