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Differences Between U.S. and Canada Business Immigration

Updated 26.03.24 11 minutes read
Business PlansImmigrationIndustry InsightsJoorney Updates

Business Immigration is an important economic stimulus for every country around the world, and the programs vary by country. At Joorney Business Plans, we specialize in immigration business plan writing for both US & Canadian Business Immigration, and we wanted to share with you an inside look at a few of the biggest differences between the business immigration practices of the two countries.

Programs: Differences & Similarities

In the US, all business immigration programs are Federal, and Canada has some similar programs that apply to the whole country as well. When taking a look at the various business immigration programs available for US and Canada, there are undeniably some similarities that both countries share with a few select Federal Programs such as the US E2 visa with the Canadian LMIA Owner Operator stream for entrepreneurs looking to establish a new company or purchase an existing company where they will have an active investment. Along with the E2 and the LMIA, the US L1 visa is very similar to the Canadian ICT (Intra Company Transfer) for foreign companies looking to establish a US or Canadian office, however, the similarities mostly end there.

When you look at all the US business visas as a whole, visa types are all Federal and apply for applicants that are pursuing coming to the US for different purposes. By contacting an immigration attorney you can determine which is the right visa for you to apply for, either an E-2, if you belong to a treaty country, or an L-1A New Office if you are a foreign company and want to open a company or a branch in the US and many more other visa options available such as EB-5, E-1, and EB-1C just to name a few.

However, for Canada, there is additional complexity to the programs since aside from the Federal Programs there are programs that vary by state or provinces in Canada’s case. Once you move away from the Federal Programs such as the mentioned ICT, the Self-Employed, the Owner-Operator LMIA, and the Startup Visas, you run into unique programs called PNPs that stand for Provincial Nominee Programs. These PNPs are unique business immigration programs mostly for entrepreneurs that are dependent on specific geographic locations. The main reason for this is economic growth throughout certain locations since the PNPs not only encourage provincial applications but will also assign more points to those who are settling in places aside from the main cities in each province

When you are looking at US visas, the requirements are very clear across the board all on a federal level and there is no preference as to locations, however, when dealing with Canadian PNPs, each province also has slightly different requirements, investment amounts, net worth, language requirements, business plan outlines, and require content to prove what they will be pursuing in Canada which will then have to be confirmed when implemented which becomes even more strict aside from the known challenges of pursuing a business, more so for foreigners in new countries. All these requirements are usually provided in a specific guideline for people to be able to apply either by themselves or getting support from immigration consultants and lawyers which we highly encourage.

Additional to being very strict about requirements, some provinces have ineligible businesses since the provinces want to be very specific about the businesses that are being established in their locations for economic purposes and to avoid market saturation. Aside from the ineligible businesses each province will focus on specific key sectors that they want to promote to control their immigration efforts in a more efficient manner.

Unlike in the US where you apply to your visa type on one occasion, some provinces in Canada require a two-step process by first submitting an Expression of Interest (EOI) which in some cases requires a Business Concept to be approved in order to be invited to apply and then a second step to start the application. If you do not receive an invitation to apply, then you must re-submit a new concept in order to try again to get to the next stage of the application process.

What Message Your Business Plan Needs to Convey?

Once you’ve selected the visa or program to apply for in either country, you need to understand what each country is looking for when providing a complete business plan.

If you look at the main purpose of business plans that are required for business immigration programs in any country, it is important to highlight what immigration is looking to evaluate. Both Canada and US will focus on the investment, due to their capitalist nature and intention to bring in investment, and mainly on job creation to explain what the positive economic impact will be for the location you will be establishing your new or existing business. Immigration for both countries wants to see you are serious about coming to their country and really implementing what you are projecting to pursue.

For the US, be sure to focus on the positive tax revenues generated by your business through the employment of US citizens to the federal government. Since US business visas are highly sought after, the US government likes to select applications that are able to put their money where their mouth is and be able to create more immediate tax revenues rather than empty future promises.

Now, Canada also looks for similar things when assessing your application however instead of focusing on a federal or general economic benefits level, Canadian officials like to see how your business will more specifically benefit the province you plan on applying for as well as if your business is feasible and required in the specific location considering Canadian immigration is also making sure population and economic growth is scattered throughout their different locations. Since there are restrictions on what industries are allowed to apply in specific provinces, this further re-enforces the need to prove the value your business will provide to your potential new home.

Final Thoughts

In summary, there are plenty of similarities between US and Canadian business immigration practices however also many prominent differences that change not only the application processes but also the requirements, proving factors, and focus of each application according to the programs.

In both countries, the Business Plan is the key document that explains the purpose and objective of the applicants in both countries and it is important to consider all the requirements for each of the visas or programs available.

If you have any questions about developing the most solid and professional business plans for different applications, either for US or Canadian immigration, do not hesitate to contact us.