Eight Things to Know About Canada’s Start-Up Visa Program

1) What Is Canada’s Start-Up Visa Program?

Canada’s Start-Up Visa Program offers Canadian permanent residence to qualified immigrant entrepreneurs. It is officially known as the Canada Start Up Class. But it is largely referred to as the Start-Up Visa program (SUV).

The program targets innovative entrepreneurs and links them with private sector investors in Canada who will help establish their start-up business.

Candidates can initially come to Canada on a work permit supported by their designated Canada-based investor, before qualifying for permanent residence once their business is up and running.

There are three types of private-sector investor:

  1. Angel investor.
  2. Venture capital fund.
  3. Business incubator.

Initially a three-year pilot, the program was made permanent on March 31, 2018.

2) What Are the Candidate Eligibility Requirements?

The basic candidate eligibility requirements for the Start-Up Visa are:

  1. Qualifying business.
  2. Commitment Certificate and Letter of Support from a designated entity.
  3. Sufficient unencumbered, available and transferable settlement funds.
  4. Proficiency in English or French at minimum Canadian Language Benchmark level 5.

3) What Is A Start-Up Visa Program Designated Entity?

A designated entity is a Canadian private sector angel investor, venture capital fund or business incubator.

The required commitment must meet the following criteria:

  1. A designated angel investor group must invest at least $75,000 into the qualifying business. Candidates can also qualify with two or more investments from angel investor groups totaling $75,000.
  2. A designated venture capital fund must confirm that it is investing at least $200,000 into the qualifying business. Candidates can also qualify with two or more commitments from designated venture capital funds totaling $200,000.
  3. A designated business incubator must accept the applicant into its business incubator program.

4) What Are the Start-Up Visa Program Business Ownership Requirements?

For the candidate to qualify for permanent residence:

  1. The intended business must be incorporated and carrying on business in Canada.
  2. The candidate must own at least 10 percent of the voting rights in the corporation.
  3. No other person can hold 50 percent or more of the voting rights in the corporation.

NOTE: Up to five candidates may have their permanent residence application supported by the same business investment. However, certain candidates may be designated essential to the business. If any essential candidate withdraws their application, or are refused, all other candidates under the same business investment will see their applications terminated.

5) How Do Candidates Qualify for A Work Permit/Permanent Residence?

To qualify for a work permit:

Candidates with a Commitment Certificate from a designated entity can apply for a short-term work permit to begin working in the business. The designated entity must support the request.

To qualify for permanent residence:

  1. Candidates must be actively involved in the management of the business in Canada.
  2. The operations of the business, or an essential part, must take place in Canada.
  3. The business must be incorporated in Canada.

6) How does an intending Immigrant Entrepreneur obtain support from a designated entity?

An intending immigrant entrepreneur to Canada must have or must develop a viable business project that will meet due diligence requirements of government approved designated entities. Typically, business consultants in Canada start up ecosystem along with experienced corporate business immigration lawyers will ensure start-up business plans meet all industry required terms and conditions.

7) How long does it take for an intending immigrant entrepreneur to go through the process?

If an entrepreneur has a viable start up business project, it will take about 4-6 months to secure a commitment certificate/letter of support from a designated entity. Once a letter of support is received, the application for permanent residence can be submitted. It will take approximately 18-months to finalize the application to visa issuance.

8) How Can M-J Global help intending immigrant entrepreneurs under the Start Up (SUV) Class?

Our firm works extensively with industry acclaimed designated entities in the Canadian start-up ecosystem. We provide a range of hands-on business advisory services to help intending entrepreneur immigrants and their start-up business concept meet all industry requirements.

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