B.C. announces new Regional Pilot program for immigrant entrepreneurs

British Columbia is opening a new immigration pilot program to attract foreign entrepreneurs to smaller communities around the province.

Known as the Entrepreneur Immigration — Regional Pilot, the two-year program is set to launch in early 2019. The pilot will see the British Columbia Provincial Nominee Program (BC PNP) work in partnership with regional communities of less than 75,000 people to welcome approved immigrant entrepreneurs who want to open a new business.

Communities must be located farther than 30 kilometers from a population center of more than 75,000 people in order to be enrolled in the pilot.

In an update announcing the new pilot, the BC PNP said the province’s small regional communities are facing economic and demographic challenges caused by their aging populations and a lack of opportunities for younger residents.

“This initiative is intended to maximize the economic benefits of immigration to B.C. to support shared prosperity across the province,” the BC PNP said.

The businesses created will have to address specific needs identified by the participating communities and, in exchange, the communities and local partners will be required to support selected entrepreneurs as they settle.

All interested entrepreneurs must complete an exploratory visit to the community where they wish to set up their business and must obtain a community referral before registering for the pilot.

Successful candidates will be granted a temporary work permit. The BC PNP will issue a nomination for permanent residence once it determines that the business has met all the criteria outlined in its Performance Agreement.

The BC PNP says personal net worth and investment criteria will be reduced for the pilot compared to its base Entrepreneur Immigration category. This reflects the lower costs of starting a business and settling in B.C.’s regions compared to Vancouver and the province’s more densely populated urban centers.

Among other eligibility criteria, candidates must:

conduct an exploratory community visit;
have a minimum of $100,000 in eligible business investments;
have a minimum personal net worth of $300,000;
have 3+ years of experience as an active business owner-manager or 4+ years as a senior manager within the last 5 years;
take on a minimum of 51 percent ownership;
create a minimum of one new job for a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada.
During the exploratory visit, candidates will present their business proposal to the community’s designated pilot representative, who will then submit a referral form to the BC PNP as part of the candidate’s registration.

All candidates will receive a score upon registering and the highest-scoring candidates will be invited to submit a full application to the BC PNP through monthly invitation rounds.

The pilot will open to registrations in early January and will run for an initial period of two years.