Have you always dreamt of running your business in Canada?
Do you have a fantastic idea that you know will be a success, but are confused about your visa application, how to go about it, the funds you need, and more?
The Start-up Visa program might be the perfect option for you to build your business in Canada as an immigrant.
Intending to approve successful applicants within weeks, the Canadian government began this program to attract creative and hard-working entrepreneurs from around the globe to provide additional support, room for growth, and as an economy-building exercise.
Let’s go over what the Start-up Visa is, how to apply for it, and offer tips to increase your chances of getting it.
What is a Canadian Start-up Visa?
As globe-trotting and enterprises grow in trends and the need for the growth of national economies increases, Canada’s Start-up Visa (SUV) program plays a key role in encouraging the acceptance and shift of immigrants into the country.
Canada then benefits from the growth and overall economic value these businesses initiate, as well as the generation of new jobs and employment opportunities they provide.
With a fast-tracked process, the SUV program also provides opportunities for permanent residence status to qualified immigrant entrepreneurs, which can, in the future, lead to citizenship. The program was made permanent in March 2018.
The program involves identifying innovative entrepreneurs to link them to investors from within the private market sector for funding, support, and financial community growth. Candidates primarily enter Canada on an eligible work permit sponsored by their designated investor before going further in pursuing permanent residence.
There are three types of investors that emerge from within the private sector:
- Angel investor: An angel investor is an accredited investor who uses their own money to invest in small businesses. Typically, angel investors prefer to fund businesses with at least one minimum viable product, and there tend to be fewer of these investors than other types.
- Venture capital fund: Venture capital funding refers to a type of private equity financing that typically does not use personal money for investments, and is most typical in later stage companies, or start-ups with high growth potential.
- Business incubator: Business incubators work with more flexibility and support, and choose to focus on operational support more than funds. Typically, choosing to support businesses when they are at an ‘idea stage’, business incubators commonly invest for preferred equity.
Can I get a Canadian Start-up Visa?
As long as you meet the set eligibility requirements for the program, you can apply.
However, this does not guarantee you entry, and the Canadian government reserves the right to deny you entry through this program.
To be eligible to apply, you will need the following:
Proof of support by a designated investment organization
The first key step in knowing your eligibility for the SUV program is to find a Canadian angel investor group, venture capital fund, or incubator to help provide funds, security, and to show faith in your ideas.
There is a list of verified and approachable designated investment organizations for this program on the Canadian government’s website.
The process varies per organization, and some require a complete business plan during application. Studying the kind of ideas each organization supports and takes on can help to narrow down the list.
If one or more organizations agree to support your enterprise, a letter of confirmation with all details will likely be sent to you. The baseline fund amounts vary depending on organization type:
- A Canadian designated venture capital fund must invest 200,000 CAD.
- A Canadian designated angel investor must invest 75,000 CAD.
- A Canadian designated business incubator need not invest.
The vast difference in figures is influenced by the origin of the money being invested, the stage of the enterprise at which it is being invested, and the latest trends of the market.
Proof of language proficiency
To be eligible for the SUV program the candidate must be fluent in English, French, or both and may be required to take the IRCC approved language test.
Proof of education
Your documents are important, and you need to display proof of at least one year of study at a postsecondary institution. Transcripts, letters of recommendation, degrees, and certificate copies must be submitted.
Proof of settlement funds
You need to show proof of sufficient funds to support yourself and your family once you immigrate to Canada.
The minimum required funds amount can range between 12,900 CAD to 34,000 CAD depending on the number of family members. These are required to ensure that in case your start-up doesn’t break even overnight — which is often the reality — you have funds to sustain yourself securely.
Proof of medical clearances
You and family members accompanying you will need to provide proof of security and medical exam clearances.
This is to ensure you do not pose a threat to the country or have a health condition that would burden the Canadian healthcare system.
Once you have these eligibility criteria wrapped up, you can proceed with your application for the Start-up Visa program.
How to immigrate to Canada as an entrepreneur
It is important to note that up to five candidates can get support for their SUV application from a business investment by a designated funding organization.
The applicant must own a minimum of 10% voting rights in the corporation, and no other applicant or individual can hold 50% or more of the voting rights in the decision-making for said corporation unless essential to the enterprise.
However, if this designated essential individual’s application is rejected or withdrawn, the other applications on the same investment will also be terminated.
To qualify for permanent residence after obtaining and working via the SUV program:
- The applicant must be actively involved in the management of the business within Canada.
- The majority and essential parts of the enterprise must take place in Canada.
- The business and company must be incorporated in Canada.
If you have a business plan and project that is viable, it will take anywhere between 4 to 6 months to secure proof of confirmation of funds from a designated funding entity in Canada. After the letter of confirmation has been obtained, the application for permanent residence can be submitted. This approval process can take anywhere between 12 to 16 months.
How to apply for a Start-up Visa
- Fill out the application form: this involves also filling out the Generic Application Form for Canada and validating all the information needed on it. Ensure that the signed and dated form has the barcode visible.
- Complete the document checklist: after gathering all the listed documents needed in the correct order, including the signed document checklist, seal them in an envelope.
- Pay the application fees: all application fees for this visa process include processing fees for all members of the family included on your application, and any language and medical testing that needs to be done. This processing fee can range between 85 CAD to 255 CAD depending on the number of people and the nature of the business being applied for.
- Submit: ensure all your documents are in order, dated, and signed and that your fee receipt is included. Mark the outside of the envelope with ‘Start-up Visa’ and mail it to the appropriate address.
Who is most likely accepted for a Canadian Start-up Visa?
When the program was started in 2016, the approval rate for applicants applying through the Start-up Visa program was 100%. Over the years, the committee of approval has seen withdrawals, changes in economies, and inadequate applications. In 2019, the approval rate was 81%.
We can help!
The application process can be daunting and overwhelming because of the requirements and documents needed. With the right people guiding you and working on your application, you can gain successful entry into Canada as an enterprising immigrant under the Start-up Visa program!
Contact us to know more about how we want to help you make this process easier, safer, and smoother for you and your family. Your idea deserves to bloom into an enterprise in Canada, and we want to get you there.