Ontario Business Program

Ontario Business Category: A Guide for Aspiring Entrepreneurs and Business Buyers

This guide targets individuals aiming to initiate a new business or acquire an existing one in Ontario. Presently, the ‘Entrepreneur Stream’ is the sole pathway under this category.

Eligibility Criteria:

  • A minimum of 24 months business management experience within the past 60 months
  • Required net worth: CAD $800,000 for businesses in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), or CAD $400,000 outside the GTA
  • Minimum personal investment: CAD $600,000 in the GTA or CAD $200,000 outside the GTA
  • Ownership of at least 33% equity in the business
  • Active role in business management
  • Investment primarily for profit generation
  • Job creation obligation: At least two permanent full-time positions for Canadian citizens or permanent residents in the GTA, or one position outside the GTA. In the information, communications, or digital communications sectors, only one job is required regardless of location.
  • Additional conditions apply for purchasing an existing business.

Entrepreneurial Experience and Financial Requirements for Ontario Business Ventures

Qualifying Business Experience: Candidates must possess a minimum of 24 months of full-time business experience within the previous 60 months. This experience can be as a business owner or a senior manager. As an owner, active involvement and a minimum one-third ownership are essential. For senior managers, experience should include significant decision-making roles and overseeing business operations, either wholly or partially.

Net Worth Requirements

Applicants are required to have a verifiable personal net worth, legally obtained. The net worth criteria differ based on the business location:

  • In the Greater Toronto Area (including Toronto, Durham, Halton, York, and Peel regions): Minimum net worth of CAD $800,000
  • Outside the Greater Toronto Area: Minimum net worth of CAD $400,000 Note: This does not include the spouse’s personal net worth.

Investment and Equity

Prospective business owners must invest their personal funds into the business, with minimum investment amounts varying by location:

  • In the Greater Toronto Area: At least CAD $600,000
  • Outside the Greater Toronto Area or in the ICT/digital communications sector: At least CAD $200,000 Additionally, maintaining at least one-third equity in the business is mandatory.

Note: Passive investments, such as mutual or pooled fund securities, are acceptable for meeting net worth criteria but are not applicable for the minimum business investment.

Active Business Management

Applicants must be consistently and actively involved in the business management.

Investment Objective

The primary goal of the investment must be profit generation, not earning interest, dividends, or capital gains.

Job Creation Mandate

Businesses in the Greater Toronto Area must create at least two permanent full-time jobs for Canadian citizens or permanent residents. Those outside this area or in the ICT/digital communications sector require at least one such job. These positions should:

  • Offer median wage or higher
  • Be filled continuously for at least 10 months before the final report submission
  • Remain in existence at the time of the final report and nomination

Purchasing an Existing Business

If acquiring an existing business, the following conditions apply:

  • A business-related visit to Ontario within 12 months of registering an expression of interest
  • The business must have been continuously operated by the same owner(s) for the previous 60 months
  • Complete transfer of business ownership to the applicant or business partner
  • No retention of shares by previous owner(s)
  • A minimum of 10% personal investment for business improvement or expansion in Ontario
  • Retention of all existing permanent, full-time jobs
  • The business should not have been previously owned or operated by OINP business stream nominees

This comprehensive guide outlines the critical experience and financial criteria for entrepreneurs looking to start or acquire a business in Ontario, ensuring a clear path for successful business ventures in the region