Understanding the Canada Start-Up Visa program

Canada Start-up visa program

Canada’s Start-Up Visa Program offers Canada PR immigration to qualified immigrant entrepreneurs. It’s known officially as the “Canada Start-Up Class”.  However, it’s largely known as the “Start-Up Visa program” (SUV).

It’s a Canada immigration program that targets innovative entrepreneurs. It links them with private sector investors in Canada. These investors will help entrepreneurs establish their start-up business.

Candidates are allowed to initially come to the country on a Canada work permit visa. They will be supported by their designated Canada-based investor. In time, they will qualify for permanent residence once their business is up and running.

Private sector investors are of 3 types:

  • An angel investor
  • A business incubator
  • A venture capital fund

Though the program started as a 3-year pilot, it was made permanent on March 31, 2018.

A candidate’s eligibility requirements in this program

The basic eligibility of a candidate for the Start-Up Visa includes:

  • A qualifying business
  • A Commitment Certificate and Letter of Support from a designated entity
  • Sufficient available, unencumbered, and transferable settlement funds.
  • Proficiency in English or French (minimum Canadian Language Benchmark level of 5)

A Start-Up Visa Program designated entity

A designated entity is an angel investor, venture capital fund or business incubator in the Canadian private sector. The following criteria must be met to carry out the required commitment:

  • A designated angel investor group must pump in at least $75,000 into the business that has qualified. Candidates have the option of having more than one investment from angel investor groups to qualify. The total investment must be $75,000.
  • There must be a confirmation that a designated venture capital fund is investing at least $200,000 into the qualifying business. Candidates can also have more than one commitment from designated venture capital funds to qualify. The total investment should be $200,000.
  • The applicant must be accepted into its business incubator program by a designated business incubator.

Business ownership requirements of a Start-Up Visa Program

The candidate can qualify for permanent residence if:

  • The intended business is incorporated and carrying on business in Canada
  • The candidate owns at least 10% of the voting rights in the corporation
  • No other person holds 50% or more of the voting rights in the corporation

Qualifying for A Work Permit/Permanent Residence

A candidate can qualify for a work permit by procuring a Commitment Certificate from a designated entity. The candidate can apply for a short-term work permit to start working in the business. The designated entity must support the request.

To qualify for permanent residence:

  • Candidates must be actively involved in managing the business in Canada
  • The operations of the business must take place in Canada. At least an essential part of the business must be in Canada
  • The business must be incorporated in Canada

Obtaining support from a designated entity

An intending immigrant entrepreneur to Canada must have or must develop a viable business project. It must meet the due diligence requirements of the government-approved designated entities. Business consultants in Canada Start-Up ecosystem and business immigration lawyers help to handle this part well.

With a viable start-up business project, an entrepreneur will get a commitment certificate/letter of support in about 4-6 months. The certificate will be received from a designated entity. After receiving a letter of support, the entrepreneur can apply for permanent residence. Approximately 18 months is taken in the process of finalizing the application to issuing a visa.

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Anshul Singhal

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