Canada’s reputation as a land of opportunity has stood the test of time. Canada is one of the world’s most reliable and stable banking systems. As well, Canada’s policies on commerce make the country’s market an ideal ground for doing business.
Business in Canada is made even more enticing by the influx of foreign skilled workers. In addition, the abundance of resources like oil and minerals in Canada engenders the need for production and manufacturing.
All of these elements make Canada an ideal hub for business. For this reason, the Canadian government looks beyond its borders in search of foreign entrepreneurs. To attract more immigrants for business, Canada has crafted several ways to make permanent residence easier.
One way foreign entrepreneurs can be permanent residents of Canada is with a Start-up Visa.
The Start-Up Visa Program
The Start-Up Visa program was created in 2015. The government of Canada intended the program to be an alternative for business immigration. During its inception, the popular program for many investors and entrepreneurs was Quebec’s Investor program.
The government of Canada created the Start-Up Visa Program to allow more immigrant entrepreneurs to come to Canada. The visa also allows immigrant entrepreneurs to settle in other Canadian provinces and territories outside Quebec.
One of the main selling points of the Start-Up Visa is the absence of minimum investment. Unlike Quebec’s Investor Program and most of the Provincial Nominee Program’s business streams, the Start-Up Visa Program requires no minimum investment.
In other words, you could immigrate to Canada with a Start-Up Visa without making an initial investment.
Instead of investment, the financing of your business will come from elsewhere. In particular, you could apply for the support of a private investor. This investor is authorized by the Canadian government to offer financial support. Financial support will help you start and run your business in Canada.
These investors go by a different term. An authorized investor is also known as a designated organization. A designated organization could be a/an:
- Angel Investor Group
- Venture Capital Fund
- Business Incubator
You need to apply to get the support of any one of these investors. Once you successfully get support, you will be given a letter of support. The letter of support proves that a designated organization is making an investment on your behalf.
The letter of support is part of your application documents to gain permanent residence in Canada.
There are only a limited number of designated organizations in Canada. The main site of the Canadian government has a list of these organizations.
Each designated organization (except for the business incubator) needs to invest a certain amount into your business. In the case of venture capital funds, the minimum investment needs to be 200,000.00 CAD. The minimum investment an angel investor group needs to make is lower. Angel investor groups need to invest at least 75,000.00 on behalf of the applicant.
Business incubator groups do not make investments because your application for support requires you to invest. As an applicant for a business incubator’s support, you need to pay 100,000.00 CAD.
Eligibility Requirements For The Start-Up Visa Program
To qualify for a Start-Up Visa, you and your business must meet certain requirements.
Requirements For The Business
As mentioned earlier, you will need support from a designated organization. To get the support of an investor group in Canada, you must ensure that your business is a qualifying business.
The business needs to meet the following conditions once a designated organization offers commitment or support:
- The applicant must have at least 10% of the voting rights. The voting rights include the total shares of the company.
- The applicant and the designated organization need to hold more than 50% of the total voting rights.
After the approval of your application for permanent residence:
- Your business must be incorporated in Canada
- You must be involved in the management of your business in the country
- The business must operate in Canada
Requirements For The Applicant Of The Start-Up Visa Program
You, as the applicant, also need to meet requirements for permanent residence.
At the time of writing, the minimum required English or French language score is Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 5. You could take either English or French language proficiency tests.
For English, you could take these tests:
- Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP)
- International English Language Language Testing System (IELTS)
If you want to take a French language test, you could opt for:
- Test d’Evaluation du Français pour Le Canada (TEF Canada)
- Test de Connaissance du Français (TCF)
Once you get the support of a venture capital funds group, you can get a commitment certificate. Angel investor groups and business incubators also give commitment certificates to applicants whose businesses they pledge to support.
The commitment certificate proves the amount that the investor group has invested. The investment is also proven in the letter of support.
Letter Of Support
The letter of support also contains the amount that the group has invested in your start-up or business in Canada. The letter is also proof that the investment group finds your business plan or concept viable for the Canadian market and economy.
In addition, you must provide proof that you have enough money to settle in Canada. The amount you show as settlement funds must be enough for you and your family (if they are accompanying you).
This article has more detailed information on how much you should have in the bank. The article also has more information on what you can show as proof of settlement funds.
Applying For A Work Permit
The application process for a Start-Up Visa in Canada is no different from that for other Canadian visas. As with other Canadian visa applications, you have to fill up and submit an application package, pay the fees, and await the decision of the IRCC.
The only difference is that unlike other applications for permanent residence, you must already be in Canada while the application is ongoing. After all, a pre-requisite for permanent residence is that you manage and operate the business in Canada.
Without permanent residence status, you may still remain in Canada working on your business. You can do this by getting a work permit.
To apply for a work permit, you need the following documents:
- The letter of support from your designated organization
- Proof of settlement funds
- The commitment certificate issued by your designated organization
Of these three documents, the letter of support will contain the request for the work permit. When it comes to settlement funds, the funds must be readily spendable and sufficient for at least one year. This is roughly the same amount of time as the work permit’s validity period.
The Start-Up Visa program allows immigrant entrepreneurs to immigrate to Canada. The program is the ideal route for Canadian business immigration for entrepreneurs with innovative business ideas.
What is more, the program opens business immigration to these innovative entrepreneurs who may lack the finances necessary to capitalize a new business. Through the program, Canada opens itself up to more diversity in both culture and entrepreneurship.