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If you have a business idea, or are in position to purchase an existing business in Ontario, then the Entrepreneur Stream of the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP) could be the Canadian immigration option for you.

Update: The Ontario Entrepreneur Stream is Currently Suspended

The Ontario government suspended its Entrepreneur Stream on December 4, 2023. It is not currently accepting new applications or issuing new expressions of interest for the program.

The Entrepreneur Success Initiative has also ended.

Under the OINP Entrepreneur Stream, the immigration authorities of Canada’s most populated province invite registered eligible candidates to apply for a temporary work permit, allowing them to establish the business in Ontario. If the terms of a Performance Agreement are met, successful applicants may then apply for provincial nomination, which is the next step on the way to becoming a permanent resident of Canada.

The OINP Entrepreneur Stream thus leads to permanent residence, but only after certain conditions are met. Moreover, eligible candidates must first be invited to apply before they may make an application. Invitations are issued on the basis of a unique points system.

OINP Entrepreneur Stream draw history for 2018

Do you prefer to learn by video? For a detailed overview of the Ontario Entrepreneur stream, we recommend this video guide from Deanne Acres-Lans, founder of Canada Abroad, an immigration consultancy based in Ontario, and one of Moving2Canada’s trusted partners:

Ontario Entrepreneur Stream eligibility criteria

Individuals wishing to apply to the OINP Entrepreneur Stream may do so alone, or with a business partner. In order to be eligible, candidates must meet the minimum requirements for all of the factors listed below. In cases where candidates intend to apply with a business partner, both persons must meet all the criteria for each factor.

FactorCriteria
ExperienceAt least 24 months of full-time business experience in the last 60 months as a business owner or as a senior manager.
Net worthIf the proposed business is located in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA): C$800,000.
If the proposed business is located outside the GTA: C$400,000.
If the proposed business is in the ICT/Digital Communications sector: $400,000, regardless of location.
Personal investmentIf the proposed business is located in the GTA: C$600,000 + minimum equity ownership of 33.3%.
If the proposed business is located outside the GTA: $200,000 + minimum equity ownership of 33.3%.
If the proposed business is ICT/Digital Communications sector: $200,000 + minimum equity ownership of 33.3%, regardless of location.
Job creationIf the proposed business is located in the GTA: At least two permanent, full-time jobs for Canadian citizens / permanent residents.
If the proposed business is located outside the GTA or if the proposed business is ICT/Digital Communications sector: At least one permanent, full-time jobs for Canadian citizens / permanent residents.
Exploratory visitIndividuals who plan on purchasing an existing business must make at least one business-related visit to Ontario in the last 12 months prior to the date the application was submitted.

OINP Entrepreneur Stream Points System

Eligible candidates are assigned a score and ranked according a unique OINP Entrepreneur Stream points system. Up to 200 points are available, with the system divided into three broad categories: human capital factors (up to 80 points), investment factors (up to 46 points), and business concept (up to 76 points).

If the applicant has a business partner, both persons must meet the appropriate criteria/thresholds outlined below.

Human Capital Factors

The maximum number of points for the human capital factors section is 80 points.

Business Management Experience (25 points)

If the candidate has both business ownership and senior management experience in 24 of the past 60 months, he or she must choose either the business owner or senior managerial experience.

Experience levelPoints
Business ownerLess than 24 monthsNot eligible
24-47 months13
48-59 months19
60 months25
OR
Senior managerLess than 24 monthsNot eligible
24-47 months13
48-59 months19
60 months25
Total points available for experience25

Past Specific Experience (35 points)

Candidates with high growth business experience or export trade business experience may obtain points under the specific experience factor, if that experience was gained in the last 60 months.

  • High Growth Business Experience: experience in a business that experienced at least 20 percent increase in revenue for two consecutive years.
  • Export Trade Business Experience: experience in a business exporting at least 20 percent of total goods/services to a foreign market.
  • Transferable Skills: direct experience and/or experience in related industries within the last five years prior to the date of EOI Registration.
Past Specific ExperiencePoints
None0
Yes: one past specific experience15
Yes: two past specific experiences25
Yes: three past specific experiences35
Total points available for specific experience35

Level of Education (10 points)

Though level of education is not an eligibility factor to enter the pool of candidates, it is nonetheless rewarded under the points system.

Level of EducationPoints
No post-secondary education0
Post-secondary degree or diploma - two-year program5
Post-secondary degree or diploma - three-year program or longer10
Total points available for level of education10

Official Language Ability (10 points)

Similarly, language ability is rewarded, even though it is not necessary to enter the pool.

Language abilityPoints
None or minimal (Canadian Language Benchmark 3 or below)0
Basic understanding (CLB 4)5
Intermediate/advanced (CLB 5 or higher)10
Total points available for language ability10

Investment Factors

The maximum number of points for the investment factors section is 46 points.

Personal Net Worth (15 points)

Personal net worth includes all assets and those of the applicant’s spouse or common-law partner, if applicable, less any liabilities, including mortgages and personal debts.

Net worthPoints
If the proposed business is to be in the GTALess than $800,000Not eligible
$800,000 to $2,499,9995
$2,500,000 or more10
OR
If the proposed business is to be outside the GTA

OR

If the proposed business will be in
ICT/Digital (regardless of location)
Less than $400,000Not eligible
$400,000 to $999,99910
$1,000,000 or more15
Total points available for net worth15

Investment Amount (25 points)

The minimum investment amount must be derived from personal net worth.

Investment amountPoints
If the proposed business is to be in the GTALess than $600,000Not eligible
$600,000 to $1,499,99910
$1,500,000 to $2,999,99915
$3,000,000 or more20
OR
If the proposed business is to be outside the GTA

OR

If the proposed business
will be in ICT/Digital (regardless of location)
Less than $200,000Not eligible
$200,000 to $499,99915
$500,000 to $799,99920
$800,000 or more25
Total points available for investment amount25

Business-Related Visits (6 points)

Only those individuals who plan on purchasing an existing business are obliged to make an exploratory visit to Ontario. However, points are available to all candidates for this factor.

Job creationPoints
1 job for outside GTA or ICT/Digital Communications sector
2 jobs for inside GTA
3
3-4 jobs5
4 or more jobs7
Total points available for job creation7

Business Concept

The maximum number of points for the business concept section is 74 points. You must score at least 37 out of 74 points to be eligible for the program.

Business Model (15 points)

You must describe how your proposed business will generate revenue and profit, and how the business will be viable and have the potential for sustained commercial success under your management.

Business ModelPoints
Unsatisfactory/Unclear0
Fair7
Good15
Total points available for business model15

Market Research (15 points)

You must provide an effective market entry strategy to show how your proposed

business will be successful in Ontario.

Market ResearchPoints
Unsatisfactory/Unclear0
Fair7
Good15
Total points available for market research15

Significant Economic Benefit and Key Sector (10 points)

You can claim points if you are able to explain how your business will bring significant economic benefit to Ontario. Examples of economic benefit include introducing new technology, developing new products or services, increasing exports, and producing new research and development.

You may also receive points if your business fits into a key sector. The following key sectors have been defined as economic priorities for Ontario:

  • Aerospace
  • Automotive
  • Chemical and biochemical
  • Cleantech
  • Financial Services
  • Food and Beverage Manufacturing
  • Forestry
  • Industrial Automation and Robotics
  • Information Technology
  • Life Sciences
  • Mining
  • Tourism
Significant economic benefit and key sector targetedPoints
Unsatisfactory/Unclear0
Fair5
Good10
Total points available for key sector targeted10

Investment Allocation (10 points)

You must provide a breakdown of how you intend to allocate your capital investment to grow and expand the proposed business.

Market ResearchPoints
Unsatisfactory/Unclear0
Fair5
Good10
Total points available for investment allocation10

Business Location (10 points)

Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) and Census Agglomeration (CA) data is used to divide business locations into three broad categories based on population size.

Business locationPoints
CMA with a population of 175,000 or more0
CMA or CA with a population greater than 100,000 but less than 175,0005
Other location with a population of 100,000 or below10
Total points available for business location10

Job Creation (7 points)

Jobs created must be paid at the prevailing wage rate and must consist of a minimum of 1,560 hours of paid employment per year.

Job creationPoints
1 job for outside GTA or ICT/Digital Communications sector
2 jobs for inside GTA
3
3-4 jobs5
4 or more jobs7
Total points available for job creation7

Creation of TEER 0, 1, 2, or 3 Jobs (7 points)

Job creation in skilled areas is rewarded as follows.

Creation of TEER 0, 1, 2, or 3Points
0 TEER 0, 1, 2 or 3 jobs0
1 TEER 0, 1, 2 or 3 job5
2 or more TEER 0, 1, 2 or 3 jobs7
Total points available for creation of TEER 0, 1, 2 or 3 jobs7

Invitations to apply

Individuals wishing to apply to the OINP Entrepreneur Stream should note that:

  • The stream operates on an Expression of Interest (EOI) / Invitation to Apply (ITA) model. Therefore, being eligible to apply does not guarantee that you may be invited to do so.
  • Candidates who have submitted EOIs are ranked against one another.
  • Only the highest-ranked candidates are issued an ITA, based on their score.
  • If the candidate intends to apply with a business partner, the score is calculated using the lowest score of the two persons.
  • Draws take place around once every four months.
  • Candidates who are not invited within 12 months of submitting an EOI are removed from the pool. They may subsequently re-enter.
  • Invited applicants (and business partner, if applicable) are required to attend a mandatory in-person interview at OINP offices to get a better understanding of the business plan and past experience.

Performance Agreement

Approved applicants (and business partner, if applicable) are required to sign a Performance Agreement, outlining the commitments required in order to be nominated for permanent resident status. The Performance Agreement must be unique to the application.

The Performance Agreement includes:

  • A description of the business (including industry and its location);
  • The investment amounts and timelines;
  • The number and type of jobs to be created for Canadian citizens or permanent residents;
  • Mandatory business milestones and achievements (depending on the specific business); and
  • Timeframes for any commitments.

The required permanent full-time jobs created by the new business be created and remain filled for at least 10 months up to the date that the Final Report is submitted.

Applicants who ultimately fail to satisfy the business commitments outlined in the Performance Agreement will not be eligible for nomination by Ontario, meaning that they will be unable to apply for permanent resident status.

Once the Performance Agreement has been have signed by the applicant(s), Ontario will issue a Letter of Confirmation so that Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) can issue a temporary work permit. Applicants must arrive in Ontario with their valid temporary work permit issued by IRCC within one year of the date of the Letter of Confirmation.

After arrival in Ontario, applicants have up to 20 months to implement the business plan and meet all commitments made under the Performance Agreement. Then, a Final Report must be submitted to the OINP between 18 and 20 months after arrival in Ontario. The Final Report is meant to show that all Performance Agreement objectives have been satisfied.

Moving from temporary to permanent status

Once the Performance Agreement objectives have been met, applicants should be ready to apply for provincial nomination, and then permanent residence. In order to receive a nomination, individuals must:

  • Be actively involved in the day-to-day management of the business;
  • Physically reside in Ontario for 75 percent of the year (nine months out of the year) to support the business during the Performance Agreement period; and
  • Demonstrate language ability of at least Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 4.

Once nominated, the federal government reviews admissibility requirements, including security and medical background checks.

Ineligible businesses

The OINP will not accept applications if the proposed business falls into one of the following categories.

Ineligible businesses in the GTA

  • Existing franchises in Ontario (new foreign franchises expanding into Ontario are permitted)
  • Gas Stations
  • Tire Recycling
  • Scrap Metal Recycling
  • Pawnbrokers
  • Bed and Breakfasts
  • Holding Companies
  • Laundromats
  • Automated Car Wash Operations
  • Payday loan and related businesses
  • Businesses which have been previously owned/operated by current or former OINP business stream nominees.

Ineligible businesses outside the GTA

  • Tire Recycling
  • Scrap Metal Recycling
  • Pawnbrokers
  • Holding Companies
  • Laundromats
  • Automated Car Wash Operations
  • Payday loan and related businesses
  • Businesses which have been previously owned/operated by current or former OINP business stream nominees

Get help with your application

Do you need assistance in preparing an application for Canadian permanent residence? If so, view our Book an Immigration Consultant page to see Moving2Canada’s list of recommended, accredited representatives who can assist you in your goals.

About the author

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Rebecca Major

She/Her
Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant
Rebecca Major is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (R511564) with nearly 15 years of licenced Canadian Immigration experience, gained after graduating with a Bachelor of Laws in the UK. She specializes in Canadian immigration at Moving2Canada.
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Citation "Ontario Entrepreneur Stream explained." Moving2Canada. . Copy for Citation