A Step-by-Step Guide to OINP Entrepreneur Stream

OINP Entrepreneur Stream lets you immigrate to Canada as an entrepreneur. Complete your free assessment to check if you’re eligible.

Thousands of immigrants settle in Ontario every year. They are drawn to the province for its growing economy and industry diversity. Many foreign entrepreneurs also start businesses in Ontario. Such individuals may benefit from immigrating using Ontario’s OINP Entrepreneur Stream. This guide will examine this immigration program’s eligibility requirements and application process.

What is OINP Entrepreneur Stream?

The OINP Entrepreneur Stream is among the immigration programs offered under Ontario’s Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP). This stream caters to foreign entrepreneurs and business people who want to start a new business or acquire an existing one in Ontario.

Entrepreneurs who complete this successfully and follow the program’s terms and conditions can be nominated for permanent residence. The Ontario Government initially introduced this stream to encourage the province’s economic growth and create new jobs for Canadian citizens and Permanent Residents.

Before applying, prospective entrepreneurs and business people must understand OINP Entrepreneur Stream eligibility requirements and the application process.

Step-by-Step Process

The Ontario Entrepreneur Stream’s application process is divided into two stages.

Stage 1

  • Preparation
  • Registering an Expression of Interest (EOI)
  • Receiving an Invitation to Apply (ITA)
  • Application Assessment
  • Signing a Performance Agreement

Stage 2

  • Applying for a Temporary Work Permit Before Arriving in Ontario
  • Establishing the Business After Arriving in Ontario
  • Receiving a Nomination for Permanent Residence
  • Applying For Permanent Residence

Stage One

1. Preparation

All applicants must visit Ontario before applying to the OINP Entrepreneur Stream. In addition to being a mandatory requirement, this Ontario visit also allows entrepreneurs and business people to learn about the province’s business environment, and economic opportunities, and make local business contacts.

Learning If Your Business Idea is Eligible

  • Applicants must also determine if their proposed business type may be ineligible under the OINP Entrepreneur Stream’s current rules.
  • Prospective entrepreneurs and business people can find a list of ineligible types of businesses inside and outside the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) here.

Understanding the Expression of Interest (EOI)

  • Applicants are required to submit their completed Expression of Interest (EOI) during Stage 1 of the OINP Entrepreneur Stream application.
  • Prospective entrepreneurs and business people should note that this EOI is not an application for immigrating via this program. It expresses the applicant’s interest in participating in the Entrepreneur Stream.

Checking Eligibility

Applicants must also determine if they meet the eligibility requirements for this program. These requirements are summarized below:

  • Work Experience: Applicants must possess a minimum of 24 months of full-time work experience gained in the past 60 months. This experience must be as a business owner or a senior business manager. Applicants with experience in both the roles mentioned above must choose one when creating and submitting their EOI.
  • Net Worth: Applicants must possess a minimum net worth of $800,000 CAD if their business will be in the GTA. This requirement is only $400,000 CAD for businesses outside the GTA. The net worth requirement for businesses in the Information and Communications Technology industry in any location is $400,000 CAD.
  • Personal Investment Amount: Entrepreneurs and business owners must make a personal investment to establish and run their new business. This investment amount is $600,000 CAD if the business is located inside the GTA, $200,000 CAD if the business is located outside the GTA, and $200,000 CAD if the company is in the Information and Communications Technology industry.
  • Involvement in the Business: The applicant is required to be involved with operating and managing the business on an ongoing basis.
  • Business Equity Percentage: The applicant must control at least 33.3% of the equity in the business they are establishing or purchasing.
  • Canadian Job Creation: The business must create two or more permanent full-time jobs for Canadian citizens or Canadian permanent residents if it is located inside the GTA. This requirement is reduced to one or more permanent full-time jobs if the business is outside the GTA or is in the Information and Communications Technology industry.
  • Exploratory Visit: Applicants must make an exploratory visit to Ontario in the 12 months preceding their Expression of Interest registration.

Some of the general requirements for the proposed business include:

  • That the business earns profits through active income and not passive income. The business must accomplish this via the sale of goods or services.
  • The business must comply with federal, provincial, licensing, and regulatory requirements wherever applicable.
  • There must be a minimum of one business location within Ontario at all times.
  • Any third-party business investors must fall under Schedule I or Schedule II bank categories. Alternatively, they may be an institutional investor.
  • A comprehensive business plan must accompany the business’s idea.

If applicants intend to purchase a business in Ontario, it must meet the following requirements:

  • The business must have been in operation for a minimum of 60 months before being purchased.
  • This operation must have been continuous and under the same ownership.
  • The purchase should transfer 100% of the ownership to the applicant, business partners, and third-party investors.
  • The business’s previous owners cannot be former OINP business stream participants. This definition includes individuals who have been nominated under the Opportunities Ontario Investor Component or the Entrepreneur Stream.
  • The acquisition must preserve the business’s existing full-time permanent jobs and two new permanent jobs for Canadian citizens or Canadian permanent residents. Companies located in the GTA must also maintain the existing minimum wage and employment terms for existing staff at the establishment. This requirement is reduced to creating one new full-time permanent job if the business is outside the GTA or in the Information Communications and Technology industry.
  • The business plan provided must prove that the applicant intends to grow their business. Applicants who intend to purchase and hold the acquired company are not eligible for the Entrepreneur Stream.
  • Applicants must devote 10% or more of their personal investment to improving and growing Ontario’s business.

Applicants must also meet the following nomination requirements if they wish to be nominated after establishing or acquiring their business in Ontario:

  • Language Requirement: Scoring CLB Level 4 or higher on a recognized language proficiency test.
  • Residency Requirement: The applicant must reside in Ontario for 75% of the period during the business’s establishment.
  • Active Management: The applicant must remain actively involved with managing day-to-day activities at the company.

Applicants can only move on to the next step if they understand the eligibility requirements mentioned above.

2. Registering an Expression of Interest (EOI)

The first official step in the Entrepreneur Stream application process is registering an Expression of Interest (EOI). There is no fee associated with completing this registration. This step is broken up into two components, Self-Declared Scoring and Business Concept.

Self-Declared Scoring

Applicants can “score” themselves based on their background and achievements in the following categories. A maximum score of 200 points can be awarded. Applicants must also prove that they meet each category’s points requirements.

Human Capital Factors (up to 80 points)

  • Business Experience: Experience in either business ownership or business senior management role. A maximum of 25 points can be awarded in this area.
  • Past Specific Experience: Additional points may be awarded for specific past business ownership or senior management experience. A total of 35 points can be scored in this area.
  • Education Level: Applicants are awarded points for post-secondary education. A total of 10 points can be awarded in this area.
  • Language Proficiency: Applicants can score 5 points if they score CLB 4 on a recognized test. They can score 10 points if they score CLB 5 or higher.

Investment Factors

  • Net Worth: Applicants may be awarded up to 15 points if they possess a high net worth. Note that applicants with a net worth less than $800,000 CAD are not eligible for the program.
  • Investment Amount: Applicants may be awarded up to 25 points if they make a significant personal investment.
  • Business-Related Visit: Applicants are awarded 6 points for making a business-related visit in the year preceding their EOI registration.

Business Concept

This section contains awards scores based on the proposed business plan information. Prospective applicants will need to score a minimum of 37 points out of the maximum 74 points in this area to qualify for the EOI selection pool. The maximum number of points in each subcategory under the business concept is as follows:

Business Model

The business model describes how the business will create revenue and earn profits. Applicants are encouraged to provide a detailed business description that includes the following information:

  • The business model and strategy will allow the business to succeed in Ontario.
  • A description of the products or services the business is offering.
  • How the business plan will lead to revenue generation and profits.
  • The applicant’s role in making the business succeed. This includes information on the applicant’s past experience and other relevant background details.
  • An explanation of why the business will be managed as a partnership.
  • Applicants purchasing an existing business must describe why they chose it and how they intend to expand it.

Applicants can receive up to 15 points for providing sufficient information on the business model as discussed above. They can receive an additional 15 points for providing information on market research and how it indicates their business will succeed in Ontario.

Applicants can receive up to 10 points by demonstrating how their business will benefit Ontario’s economy. This can include descriptions of new products or services, adopting new technology, or increasing research and development.

Applicants can receive up to 10 points by providing a detailed breakdown of how they intend to allocate capital investments to expand the business.

Business Location

Points are also awarded for the proposed business’s location in specific Census Metropolitan Areas (CMA).

  • CMA population of 175,000 or more: 0 points
  • CMA population between 100,000 and 175,000: 5 points
  • Locations with a population under 100,000: 10 points

Job Creation

  • Points are awarded for the number of jobs the business creates.
  • Additional points are also given for the job’s skill level.
  • Up to 7 points are awarded if the company makes five or more full-time permanent positions.
  • Up to 7 additional points are awarded if the jobs created fall under NOC 0, A, or B skill levels.

Complete the Expression of Interest Registration

Once applicants have tallied up their scores in each area mentioned above, they can register for their EOI online. Applicants are not required to provide supporting documents when they initially submit their EOI. They will be asked to provide these documents after receiving an invitation to apply.

3. Receiving an Invitation to Apply (ITA)

Successful applicants will receive an invitation to apply via email if their EOI score is high enough during the OINP Entrepreneur Stream candidate draw. They will then have 90 days to verify their personal net worth, pay their application fees, gather supporting documents, and submit their application.

Personal Net Worth Verification

Applicants must hire a qualified vendor to review their personal net worth and funds before submitting their application with the OINP. The OINP must approve this vendor before using its services.

Processing Fee

Applicants are required to pay a processing fee of $3,500 CAD before submitting their application. They must complete this payment electronically via MasterCard, MasterCard Debit, Visa, or Visa Debit. Note that these processing fees are non-refundable once the OINP has begun processing the application.

Supporting Documents

Applicants must gather relevant documents that help them prove their claims during the self-scoring phase. These documents must also include a notarized or certified translation.

Submitting the Application

Once the preceding steps are completed, applicants can complete and submit their applications online. The Invitation to Apply email that applicants received earlier will contain information on the website for submitting this application.

4. Application Assessment

The OINP will then send out a confirmation email stating that they have received the application. They will then proceed to assess the application and review the supporting documents they were provided.

Mandatory Interview

If the OINP believes the application was completed accurately, they will invite the applicant for an in-person interview at their office in Ontario. This interview will help allow the applicant to provide more information about their business plan and their qualifications.

5. Performance Agreement

If the applicant’s OINP application is approved, they will be asked to sign a Performance Agreement. This is a list of terms and conditions the applicant and their business must abide by to receive a permanent residence nomination. This performance agreement may include:

  • A description of the proposed business.
  • Investment amounts along with corresponding timelines.
  • Information on the Canadian jobs the company will create.
  • A set of achievements and milestones the company must accomplish.
  • Timeframes regarding any commitments.

Stage Two

6. Applying for a Temporary Work Permit Before Arriving in Ontario

Applicants must start making preparations for their arrival in Ontario. The primary step during this stage is to apply for a temporary work permit.

Entrepreneurs and business people can apply for this work permit once the OINP issues a confirmation letter following their Performance Agreement signing. They must submit this temporary work permit application to Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

7. Establishing the Business After Arriving in Ontario

Applicants are required to arrive in Ontario within 12 months of receiving their confirmation letter. They must also ensure they possess their temporary work permit before entering the country.

Building the Business

After entering Ontario, entrepreneurs will have up to 20 months to implement their business plan and meet the terms and conditions mentioned in their Performance Agreement.

This also includes ensuring the full-time permanent jobs they have created are filled for a minimum of 10 months continuously till the day they submit their Final Report.

Monitoring the Business

OINP officers will monitor the business and visit the facility to ensure the owner is complying with the Performance Agreement objectives. Owners will also need to provide quarterly reports updating OINP on their process.

Submitting the Final Report

Business owners are required to submit their Final Report with the OINP 18 to 20 months after arriving in Ontario. An OINP officer will provide business owners with a template for this report.

This Final Report must demonstrate that the business owner has fulfilled the terms and conditions mentioned in the Performance Agreement. The OINP will then evaluate this report and ask for additional information if it is needed.

8. Receiving a Nomination for Permanent Residence

If the OINP believes the business owner has fulfilled the requirements of their Performance Agreement, they will check to see if they meet the nomination eligibility requirements. They will then ask for supporting documents to verify that the business owner meets the nomination criteria.

Successful business owners will receive a Letter of Nomination and an OINP Nomination Confirmation document.

9. Applying For Permanent Residence

Business owners can apply for permanent residence by applying with IRCC. They must complete this process within six months of receiving their nomination and include their nomination letter and OINP nomination confirmation document with their application.

The OINP will monitor business owners for 36 months after receiving their nominations. This ensures they meet the OINP Entrepreneur Stream criteria until they are granted permanent residence status.


FAQ: OINP Entrepreneur Stream


1. What is the OINP General category?

The General Category is also sometimes called the Employer Category or the Foreign Skilled Workers with Job Offer Stream. The category provides opportunities to Ontario-recognized employers to provide jobs to foreign skilled workers with approved skilled positions. Under the General Category, both the employer and the candidate must submit an application to demonstrate their eligibility criteria. If the application is approved, both of them must submit a Nominee Application to the OINP.

2. What are the investment requirements for the OINP Entrepreneur Stream?

• A minimum of $200,000 is required for the business outside the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) or in the tech industry.
• At least $600,000 in a business inside of the GTA.
• You must create at least one permanent full-time job outside of GTA, and two jobs inside GTA.
• You must do an exploration visit to Ontario in the past year.

3. How Much Time Does OINP-Entrepreneur Stream Take?

• Average 1 year for the registration for your work permit.
• It will take approximately 2 years to get from a work permit to a nomination.
• From nomination to permanent residence, it will take approx. 1.5 year.

4. What is a Performance Agreement?

Approved candidates must sign a Performance Agreement which states detailing their business, investment amount, timeline to set up the business, the number and type of jobs created for Canadian residents or permanent residents, and depending on the specific business, candidates must mention business milestones.

Apply for OINP Entrepreneur Stream

Immigrate to Canada as an entrepreneur through OINP Entrepreneur Stream.