Startup Visa Program – Designated Organizations, Eligibility, Process and Advantages
- 1 Startup Visa
- 1.1 Designated Organizations for Start-Up Visa:
- 1.2 Eligibility
- 1.3 Process
- 1.4 Start-up Visa for Canadian investors
- 1.5 Main Advantages of Canada’s Startup Visa
In 2012, Canada had already been globally recognized as one of the best countries for business by Forbes magazine. It has been named as the topmost country in North America and G-20, which is ideal for starting or conducting a business.
Some of the reasons for this title are the country’s location and availability of skilled workers and natural resources, making it easier to have business relations with the US and other neighboring countries. But the most important factors that inspire foreign businessmen to select Canada to immigrate to are the lowest corporate tax rates in the world and one of the most stable banking systems.
To maintain this position and boost the economic growth further, the Canadian government came up with a program to attract entrepreneurs from other countries named ‘The Start-Up Visa Program’.
The Start-Up Visa Act of 2011, passed in the US Senate, gave the Canadian government an exceptional opportunity to start a similar program that will attract the entrepreneurs, who want to settle in the US, to Canada. The Start-up Visa Program was initially considered as a variation of the existing Entrepreneur Class. The only difference between these two was from the existing investor and entrepreneur options in such a way that the entrepreneur would not need to be the source of investment capital. This would also enable the entrepreneurs who would establish their start-up businesses using capital contributed by third parties, such as venture capital firms or angel investors, to demonstrate their innovative business ideas, compete on a global scale and seek permanent residence in Canada .
Finally, the initiative began as a five-year pilot program on 1st April, 2013. Under the program, the government of Canada provided funding and support to these businesspeople. In return, these businesses aimed to improve the economy and became a path for creating more jobs in Canada. At present, the program, officially known as the Canada Start Up Class, offers Canadian permanent residence to qualified immigrant entrepreneurs and is largely referred to as the Start-Up Visa program (SUV). Later, the pilot program was made a permanent choice for immigrant entrepreneurs interested in moving to Canada on March 31, 2018.
Since launched as a pilot program in 2013, the Start-up Visa Program has permitted hundreds of immigrant business owners to Canada. This number of admissions increases each year. Sadly, Quebec does not participate in the Start-up Visa Program. Entrepreneurs interested in immigrating to Quebec have to consult the Quebec Entrepreneur and Quebec Investor programs.
Designated Organizations for Start-Up Visa:
Under the Start-Up Visa Program, the Canadian government’s main aim is to link the entrepreneurs with private sector investors in Canada who will help establish their start-up business. As a result, one of the basic requirements to apply for this program is to obtain proof that a designated organization (a business group that has been approved to invest in or support possible start-ups) is supporting the business in question. So, unlike in the federal and provincial investor programs, where applicants must invest their own capital, no investment of their own funds will be required under the Start-Up Visa Program.
There are three types of private-sector investor:
Angel investor/ investor groups:
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 totalling $75,000.
Venture capital funds:
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 totalling $200,000.
A designated business incubator must accept the applicant into its business incubator program. Here, no investment capital is needed.
As Canada encounters sustained economic growth, the Start-up Visa Program, a government-supported program, helps talented foreign workers find a home in the Canadian workforce. While waiting for confirmation of their permanent residence application, the foreign entrepreneurs who have applied to the Start-up Visa Program are provided with a temporary work permit which allows them to travel to Canada to launch their business.
But what are the requirements that will ensure that you receive the Start-Up Visa in the first place?
There are four basic eligibility criteria that you need to fulfil to earn the Visa. They are:
- Qualifying business
- Commitment Certificate and Letter of Support from a designated Canadian entity
- Sufficient unencumbered, available and transferable settlement funds
- Proficiency in English or French
Have a qualifying business:
- You, as the entrepreneur applicant must hold at least 10 percent of the voting rights attached to all shares of the company. Up to five newcomers can apply as joint owners of the company.
- The applicant/s, along with the designated organization must jointly hold at least 50% of the total voting rights attached to all shares of the company.
In order to secure permanent residence through the Start-up Visa Program, applicants must ensure that the business becomes incorporated within Canada with its most important operations taking place in Canada through the active management of the foreign entrepreneurs.
Have a letter of support from a designated organization:
The three different categories of designated organization have already been discussed earlier in the article.
Before applying to the Start-Up Visa Program, the entrepreneurs should obtain a commitment from any of the three types of designated organizations. This step was taken to prevent scams by the entrepreneurs. So, when you apply for permanent residency, you have to show that you have the support of a venture capital fund, angel investor group, or business incubator. They will issue a Letter of Support which will be valid for six months from the date of their issue.
In order to get that Letter of support, you have to –
- Contact the designated organization to find out how to get their support.
- Present your business idea and convince the organization that it is worth supporting. This process of pitching your business idea will be different for each organization as their requirements vary.
- If you are successful, you will receive a letter of support from the organization which must be included in your start-up visa application
Meet the language requirements:
All applicants of the Start-Up Visa Program should prove that they have proficiency in English and/or French.
As a result, you must take a language test from an approved agency and show that you meet the minimum level of the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 5 in either English or French in speaking, reading, listening, and writing. The test results must be less than two years old at the time of application.
Canadian immigration authorities currently accept English test results from the following test providers:
- IELTS (General test)
- CELPIP (General test)
Test results from either of these two French tests may also be submitted:
Proof of funds according to IRCC’s requirement:
The Government of Canada does not give financial support to new start-up visa immigrants. So, before you are given the Visa, you have to prove that you, as the primary applicant, can provide for yourself and your dependents if they accompany you.
The amount you need depends on the size of your family. If there is a single dependent, the fund required is $12,960. The amount increases to $16,135, $19,836, $24,083, $27,315, $30,806 and $34,299 when the number of family members are 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 respectively. If the number of family members is more than 7, $3,492 is required for each additional member.
These amounts are updated every year. You can’t borrow this money from another person.
Proof of Security and Medical Clearances:
As an additional requirement, you and your family need to undergo a security clearance and a medical examination in order to evaluate whether you
⦁ Pose a security threat to the country, and
⦁ Have a severe health condition that would put a burden on the Canadian healthcare system.
If any of the above mentioned requirements are not fulfilled, then your application for the Start-Up Visa is liable to cancellation.
The startup visa application process is organized in such a way that it is a fast-track process with the goal to approve successful applicants within weeks. The government is working on increasing the entrepreneur’s chances of getting accepted in the Startup Visa Program in Canada and improving the business by taking it to the next step and applying to the designated organizations.
The Start-up Visa Program application needs documentation demonstrating that the applicant meets all four major requirements for the program. Besides these requirements, he/she has to go through security and health checks and submit biometrics and certified translations of documents that are not presented in English or French.
Let us delve into the details of the application process.
- Filling the Application
- Complete the Document Checklist
- Pay the Application Fees
- Submit the Application
Filling the Application
You have to fill out the generic Application Form meant for the Start-Up Visa for Canada online. After you complete the form with the details, click on “Validate” to ensure that you filled in all the necessary details. Now you need to print the validated application form and be careful to include the barcode page. Finally, you can sign and put a date on the form.
Complete the document checklist
- Detailed Resume (CV) of the candidate
- Draft Business Proposal
- Copy of Passport or Legal Travel Document
- Birth Certificate
- Marriage Certificate (if married)
- Police Clearance Record from your country of origin and residence
- Proof of Funds: a recent Bank Statement covering at least six months
- Bank Reference Letter
- Language Test Results (IELTS CLB Level 5 or NCLC Level 5)
- Medical Examination Confirmation from a certified health institution
- Letter of Support from a designated entity in Canada
Make sure to collect all documents listed in the order specified in the document checklist above, put them in a sealed envelope (9” x 12”), sign the document checklist, and include it along with the documents as the cover page. All documents need to be legally translated to English or French and certified or apostilled from the corresponding country. The immigration office may request additional documents if they seek to have further information. Do not forget to write “Start-Up Visa” on the envelope and mail it to IRCC’s Centralized Intake Office in Sydney, Nova Scotia.
Pay your application fees
Before submitting the application, you have to pay the application fees that include processing fees ($1,575), Right of permanent residence fee ($500), Third-party fees including fees for medical exams, police certificates, and language testing, and Biometrics fees which is $85. If your spouse or partner is included, you have to pay an $825 application fee for them and $500 for the Right of Permanent Residence Fee. You have to add $225 for each dependent child.
The Application Fees should be paid online. The processing fees are not refundable if the application processing starts. The Right of Permanent Residence fee is refundable if the application is rejected, the applicant decides to cancel the application, or if the applicant decides not to come to Canada.
Submit your application
Before submitting the final application after payment, ensure that it is complete and all the forms are signed. The payment receipt should be included along with the other supporting documents.
If there are more than one application for permanent residency, the final application will not be processed until all the applications of the qualifying partners have been received. Each business partner must submit their own application. But they should not be submitted in one envelope.
If there is any change in the application, for example, a team member will no longer be submitting a permanent residence application, it must be notified through the web form provided on the IRCC website to inform them as soon as possible.
- Processing Time of the Application
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. Usually, the applications take 12-16 months to be processed. However, applicants can apply for a temporary work permit enabling them to begin working in Canada prior to the approval of their permanent residence application.
Once an application is approved, the principal applicant and all accompanying family members will receive Canadian permanent resident status.
Start-up Visa for Canadian investors
The Start-up Visa Program welcomes three types of organizations – angel investor groups, business incubators, and venture capital funds – to sponsor the entrepreneurs to expand their business in Canada.
In order to participate in the program, first an organization must become designated by IRCC. To become designated, these organizations must be a member of and be recommended by one of IRCC’s partner industry organizations:
- Canadian Venture Capital & Private Equity Association (CVCA): It makes recommendations for venture capital funds
- National Angel Capital Organization (NACO): It makes recommendations for angel investor groups and business incubators
Once an organization is designated, it will appear on IRCC’s list of designated employers.
The designated employer can find interested immigrant entrepreneurs in their own way as there is no set method. These organizations help the business people to fulfil one of the most important requirements by providing them a letter of support confirming their commitment to the entrepreneur and the program.
Main Advantages of Canada’s Startup Visa
The main benefits of the Start-Up Visa Program of Canada are:
- It is one of the Programs that supports the entrepreneurs and help them to achieve permanent residency for them and their family
- Even before getting the approval for permanent residency, the applicant can come to Canada and expand his/her business on the work permit.
- Canadian citizens are allowed dual citizenship
- The applicant does not have to provide a source of funds for business to apply.
- There is no age limit for the main applicant
- It has a fast tracked process and so requires less time for processing.
With all the above details in mind, you can apply for a work permit and eventually aim for permanent residency under the Start-Up Visa Program. Even if your business fails, you can still keep your Canadian permanent residence.