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The Quebec Entrepreneur Program is a Canadian immigration program designed to help foreign business owners launch entrepreneurial endeavours in the province of Quebec. This is a unique immigration opportunity for foreign entrepreneurs who have the financial resources and business ownership experience needed to launch a new business project in Quebec. Successful applicants become Canadian permanent residents.
Please note: Though this immigration program is based in the French-speaking province of Quebec, French-language proficiency is not required for applicants. However, language proficiency may be taken into account when selecting applicants.
As of January 1, 2020, all applicants for permanent residence through Quebec immigration programs are required to show they understand Quebec values. This can be done by passing a Quebec values test or completing a course in Quebec values.
Who is eligible to apply to the Quebec Entrepreneur Program?
The Quebec Entrepreneur Program is divided into two streams, each with distinct eligibility criteria:
In order to be eligible for Stream One of the Quebec Entrepreneur Program, the prospective immigrant entrepreneur must present a business project idea for a business they intend to create and operate from within Quebec. Applicants must have already received a service offer from a Quebec-based business accelerator, business incubator, or university entrepreneurship centre.
Quebec does not have a list of accelerators, incubators, and entrepreneurship centres that are eligible to support immigrant entrepreneurs. There are no regulated criteria to recognize these organizations, but interested applicants can consult this list for examples of projects undertaken by these types of business organizations in Quebec.
To support their business project, the immigrant entrepreneur applicant must demonstrate that the business incubator, business accelerator, or university entrepreneurship centre meets the appropriate definition:
- Business accelerator: Quebec organizations offering support services, especially in securing funding, to entrepreneurs whose projects are aimed at the growth of innovative companies.
- Business incubator: Quebec organizations offering mentoring services, including hosting, to entrepreneurs with business projects aimed at creating innovative businesses.
- University entrepreneurship centre: Quebec organizations managed by academic institutions, or affiliated organizations that provide mentoring services to entrepreneurs.
When submitting an application to the Quebec Entrepreneur Program, a central component is the written service offer from the Quebec organization to support the immigrant entrepreneur’s business project. This written offer must present the services the organization intends to offer the entrepreneur and must present: a detailed support plan, an operations plan and budget, and the organization’s expertise in its field.
In order to be eligible for Stream Two of the Quebec Entrepreneur Program, the prospective immigrant entrepreneur must settle in Quebec to create a new business or purchase an existing business. Applicants will be required to submit their business idea in the form of a business plan as part of their application.
Entrepreneurs choosing to create a business must own and control at least 25 percent of its equity capital, while those choosing to acquire a business must own and control at least 51 percent of its equity capital. As well, the business must have been in operation within the five years prior to application, and cannot have been purchased from another immigrant entrepreneur selected under this program in the previous five years.
The applicant must make a startup deposit and a security deposit with a financial institution in Quebec. The minimum startup deposit amount is CAD $200,000 for businesses located outside of Montreal and CAD $300,000 for Montreal-based businesses. The startup deposit must be used to set up the business. The security deposit is CAD $200,000 and will be refunded when an applicant demonstrates that they have carried out their business plan. Please note that in late 2020 Quebec undertook a review of the startup and security deposit requirements and may suspend these requirements for applications received before November 1, 2020.
All applicants must have a minimum personal net worth of CAD $900,000 (this can include a spouse or partner’s net worth).
Businesses related to payday loans, pawnbroking, real estate development or insurance, and the sex industry are not eligible for this program.
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How to apply to the Quebec Entrepreneur Program
The Quebec Entrepreneur Program only accepts applications during designated intake periods. Stream One is accepting up to 25 applications between November 1, 2020 and September 30, 2021. Stream Two is paused until at least November 1, 2021.
French-speaking applicants are exempt from the program’s intake periods and quotas. To show French-language proficiency, applicants must submit results from an approved language test.
Quebec uses a two-step application process to admit new permanent residents.
- Selection: Selection occurs at the provincial level. All Quebec immigration applicants have to apply to the province of Quebec for a Certificat de sélection du Québec (CSQ).
- Admission: Admission occurs at the federal level. Once a person has a CSQ, they must apply to the federal government for Canadian permanent resident status. As with all permanent residence applications, applicants must pass through a medical exam and police background check to ensure they are admissible to Canada.
Once an application has been approved at both the provincial and federal level, an applicant becomes a Canadian permanent resident.
To apply to the program, entrepreneurs must prepare a paper-based application. The application must include a detailed business plan, supporting documentation as required (related to personal net worth, education, language proficiency, etc.). Full details regarding mandatory forms and supporting documents can be found on the website of the Ministere de l’mmigration et de la diversité (MIDI).
Completed applications must be submitted by courier to the Direction de l’enregistrement et de l’évaluation comparative in the city of Montreal. If an application is approved, the entrepreneur will receive their CSQ, enabling them to apply for permanent residence.
What other Canadian immigration options exist for entrepreneurs?
Canada offers several immigration options for entrepreneurs seeking to launch business ideas in Canada. The Start-up Visa Program is an excellent option for talented foreign entrepreneurs who have secured the support of a designated Canadian business organization. As well, many Canadian provinces other than Quebec also offer entrepreneurial immigration programs through Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) streams. Popular entrepreneurial PNP streams include Ontario and British Columbia.
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