How long does the application process take?

Applications are processed on a first-come, first-served basis. The duration depends on the number of applications ahead of you at the visa office where you apply, and any complications which may arise during the processing of your application. Generally speaking, it usually takes between 6 and 18 months from the time an immigration application is submitted to finalize the case and issue visas.

What happens after I receive my visa?

Your visa has a validity date on it, which is usually one year from the date you or your dependents started the immigration medical examination process. This date usually gives you several months to put your affairs in order and make the necessary arrangements in your home country before leaving for Canada. You and your dependents must travel to Canada and present your immigration visas at a Canadian port of entry before the validity date. Your dependents may choose not to accompany you when you leave for Canada but to follow later. This is permissible, providing they arrive in Canada before their visas expire. Your dependents cannot, however, travel to Canada before you do to present their visas. You must report any births, deaths, adoptions, marriages, separations, divorces, serious illnesses or criminal proceedings involving immigrating family members that take place after your visas have been issued and before you depart for Canada to the office which issued your visa. Failure to do so may render your visas invalid. The visa office will instruct you what steps to take in regard to these new developments. When you arrive in Canada, you must present your visa to a customs/immigration officer who will complete landing formalities. You and your dependents who accompany you to Canada will become landed immigrants and accorded the status of permanent residents of Canada at that time.

What if I or my dependents are unable to travel to Canada before our visas expire?

The validity of a visa cannot be extended. If your visa expires before you present it at a Canadian port of entry, it is void. If you are still interested in immigrating to Canada, you must:
· return your unused visas to the visa office and make a new application.

Why would my immigration application be refused? What are the consequences of a refusal?

Among the most common reasons for refusal are failure to meet the following requirements of Canada immigration law:
· you are unable to prove to the visa officer that you meet the immigration criteria;
· you and/or your dependents fail to meet the prescribed medical standards
· you and/or your dependents do not pass criminal or security checks.

If your application is refused, a visa officer will advise you in writing by of the reasons for the refusal. You are free to apply again for immigration to Canada anytime. The fact that they have previously refused you will not affect your subsequent application. However, you must show that you have overcome the reasons why they refused your first application.

What are the rights and obligations of a permanent resident of Canada?

As permanent residents, you and your dependents have the right to live, study and work indefinitely in Canada. Your permanent resident status gives you the right to apply for Canadian citizenship, and to hold a Canadian passport, once you have met citizenship requirements. Meanwhile, as a permanent resident you are entitled to all social benefits accorded to Canadian citizens. You are obligated as a resident to pay Canadian income tax on your worldwide earnings. There are very few limitations imposed on you in Canada by virtue of your permanent resident status. You may be unable to vote in certain Canadian elections or ineligible for certain jobs requiring high-level security clearance. You may be deported if you or your dependents commit serious crimes while you are permanent residents. You may also be deported if you were issued a conditional immigrant visa and have failed to abide by the terms and conditions of that visa. Your permanent resident status is in effect until you become a Canadian citizen or until you abandon Canada as your place of permanent residence. Short trips outside Canada for business reasons will not normally affect your permanent resident status. However, if your absences are frequent and/or lengthy enough to indicate that you are living somewhere other than Canada, you may be deemed by law to have abandoned Canada and will lose your permanent resident status. Traveling to Canada to present your visas for landing and then returning to live in your home country (or elsewhere) indefinitely will, except in the few exceptional and specific circumstances permitted by law, result in loss of Canadian permanent resident status.

If I choose to apply in one business immigration category and later decide to switch to the other, can I do so?

You may - it depends on the timing of your decision. If it is early enough in the processing of your application, you can generally switch from entrepreneur to investor or vice versa without any consequences. You must inform the responsible visa office in writing of your request.

Note: If you wish to switch from the investor to the entrepreneur category, and have already committed funds to an investment offering, before contacting the visa office, you should get in touch with the manager of the investment offering to find out if, and under what circumstances, your funds may be returned to you. Once you have been issued a visa, you cannot, under any circumstances, switch categories. If you are issued an entrepreneur visa, you must establish a business within two years. If you are issued an investor visa, your money will, by law, remain locked into your chosen investment for the five year holding period.

Should I apply as an entrepreneur or as an investor?

You should first carefully assess the definitions to determine if you meet both of them, and therefore have this choice available to you. If you do, the decision is up to you. The categories are accorded equal priority in terms of visa processing times. Each category has its own particular characteristics.

Can I make any kind of investment in Canada I want in order to qualify in the investor category?

No. You can only invest in a business or fund that: a) has qualified under the Business Immigration Program and b) has an investment proposal whose offering period has not yet expired and whose maximum subscription level has not yet been met. An investment offering qualifies under the program after it has passed a two-stage process. First, the province where the investment will be made reviews the proposal. If it is established that the project will make a positive contribution to the province economic development, the proposal passes on to a review by federal government officials, primarily to ensure the project set-up complies with Canada Immigration Act and Regulations. Offerings which pass this review process can be placed on the market and sold only for a defined time period. Once the marketing period has expired, the offering is no longer an eligible investment that is, they may neither market nor sell subscriptions. A list of all currently active investment offerings is available on request from visa offices.

How do I prove my qualifications to the visa officer?

At some point in the selection process, you will be called upon to provide documentation to help prove to the visa officer that you do meet the entrepreneur definition. Proof of a successful business management background will help establish that you have the ability to set up and operate a business venture in Canada. You should be prepared to provide business and personal income tax records, audited financial statements, business records, official company organization charts and other documents of this nature. You must also satisfy the visa officer that you have sufficient assets available for your business venture and to establish yourself and your dependents in Canada, for example, bank statements, property and business valuations, share certificates and other documents of this nature. The visa office will tell you what documents to provide and when to submit them. You may be asked to explain any ambiguities, inconsistencies, shortcomings or gaps in these documents in a personal interview with a visa officer.

What role do provincial governments have in the entrepreneurial immigration process?

The provinces' role is primarily one of guidance and counseling for applicants who are considering setting up businesses within their borders. It is in your best interest as a prospective business immigrant to be aware of the particular province's business development needs and available programs to assist entrepreneurs in setting up businesses to meet those needs. With the exception of the province of Quebec, provincial officials are not directly involved in the selection of entrepreneurial immigrants. The final responsibility for approving or refusing the applications of persons not destined to live in Quebec lies exclusively in the hands of visa officers representing the federal government. Most provinces are eager to meet with prospective entrepreneurial applicants who are visiting Canada or who approach their representatives overseas. Several hold formal counseling seminars for this purpose. We suggest you contact provincial officials well in advance of any planned visit to Canada to arrange an appointment for information on the assistance they can offer and their particular needs and expectations.

Should I make an exploratory visit to Canada before submitting my application?

You are under no obligation to make an exploratory visit. However, we do recommend such visits as many applicants find them beneficial. As well as providing the opportunity to meet with provincial officials, they give you a chance to acquire first-hand knowledge about living and doing business in Canada, knowledge which can only assist you when the time comes to proceed with a specific business project. You may need a Canadian visitor visa to travel to Canada for an exploratory visit. Please contact our office for assistance.

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Canadian Overseas Immigration and Business Services Inc.
1400 - 355 Burrard Street
Vancouver, B.C. Canada V6C 2G8
Tel: (604) 669-8018 Fax: (604) 669-6998