The Start-Up Visa Immigration Program enables eligible immigrant entrepreneurs to apply for Canadian permanent residence (PR) while supporting them to establish their business in Canada.
This visa program is specifically designed for immigrant entrepreneurs to establish and grow their start-up businesses in Canada. The Canadian Government provides various opportunities and means to the eligible entrepreneurs to connect them with private industries, that already exist in Canada that provide the foreign start-ups required funding, suggestions and guidance towards starting and also operating their businesses in Canada.
The main purpose of this Start-up program is to invite innovative foreign entrepreneurs to Canada and help them create jobs for Canadian citizens and residents and drive the economic growth of Canada.
The applicants are required to meet the following requirements in order to apply for the Start-up visa program:
- Meet the minimum English or French language requirements (at least CLB 5 across all factors)
- Hold sufficient funds to support yourself in Canada
- Plan to establish your yourself and your business in any of the Canadian provinces, other than Quebec
- Clear the Canadian security and medical tests
- Provide proves showing your business is supported by a designated organization
- Provide proves to show that your start-up business appropriately meets ownership requirements
Please note, a maximum number of five foreign nationals are allowed to apply together for the permanent residence (PR) visa of Canada under a same business venture, when applying through the Start-Up Visa Program.
The Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada or the IRCC has included three organizations to provide support to immigrant entrepreneurs through the Start-Up Visa Program. These includes:
- Venture Capital Funds
- Angel Investor Groups, and
- Business Incubator Organizations
Those applicants who become successful in getting the Start-Up Visa are then required to receive a minimum investment amount to establish their start-up venture in Canada. If secured from an authorized venture capital fund in Canada, the amount of investment should be at least equivalent to CAD 200,000. However, if received from a designated angel investor group, then it should be equivalent to at least CAD 75,000.
Successful applicants are not required to gain any investment from a business incubator organization. But it would be necessary for these applicants to get accepted as part of the Canadian Business Incubator Program.
Moreover, applicants do not need to invest their own money to establish their business in Canada. In case their start-up turns out to be unsuccessful, then also those individuals who are being granted permanent residence through the start-up program would be able to still retain their permanent resident status.
Evidence of Commitment
In order to prove that the applicant has secured financial support from either of the three investor organizations, that are venture capital fund, angel investor group or a business incubator organization, they will be required to submit a Commitment Certificate to the IRCC.
It mainly includes the document which details all the information approving the agreement that exist between the applicant and the particular investment organization.
In addition to this, the applicant also receives a letter of support, issued by one of the investment organizations, which is then required to be submitted by the applicant as part of the permanent residence (PR) application. In case there are two or more applicants applying for the PR visa under the same business venture, then the commitment made by the investment organization would be conditional towards either only one or more essential individuals in the group that have applied for the PR visa.
This essential individual would be the one who has been particularly identified as more important for the business as compared to others by the investment organization. However, if under certain conditions, the PR application of the essential individual is rejected, then the application being submitted by all other eligible individuals that are included in the Commitment Certificate will also be rejected.
Support received from Multiple Organizations
Eligible applicants who apply for the permanent residence (PR) visa through the entrepreneur Start-Up Visa Immigration Scheme also have the right to access support from more than one designated organization; the process is known as syndication. However, in such scenario all the stakeholders involved must be recognized. After that, all the designated organization are mandated to provide IRCC with one Commitment Certificate and a single letter of support for all the applicants involved.
As soon as one of the designated organizations (for instance, venture capital fund) listed above invests in the start-up business, the minimum investment that can be made to the business is necessitated to be equivalent to CAD 200,000, even if one more designated organization (for instance, angel investor group) is also involved in making an investment in the same business.
However, if the business is able to receive support from one designated angel investor group, but not from ant designated venture capital group, in that case the minimum total amount that is required to be invested towards the business establishment should be equivalent to CAD 75,000.
Peer Review Process
A Peer Review Process has been incorporated as an important element of entrepreneur Start-Up Visa Immigration Program, with an aim to protect this particular pilot program from frauds. The main purpose of including this process to ensure that the partnership between the designated investment organizations and entrepreneurs applying from overseas via the Start-Up visa scheme is legitimate. Immigration Officer has the authority to ask the Peer Review Panel to independently assess the commitment between the two stakeholders and thereby evaluate the authenticity of the process.
These Peer Review Panel has been made by a single industry association which then represents the three investment organizations making the commitment through its sub-bodies. For instance, the National Angel Capital Organization is mainly responsible for including the peer review panel when assessing the commitment of Angel Investor Group. Also, if the commitment has been made by the Venture Capital Fund, then both or either of Venture Capital Association and/or the Private Equity Association would be responsible for evaluation.
Further, Peer Review Process is necessary for confirming if the particular investment organization has followed proper checks and investigation procedures, complying with the industry standards.
The Peer Review Panel therefore examines the level of integrity adhered by the designated investment organization while also:
- ensures that the business will be eventually incorporated in Canada;
- ensures that the ownership of the business has been properly verified and will satisfy the requirements of the program;
- ensures that the designated investment organization has appropriately considered the feasibility of the business model being proposed and has assessed the management team of the start-up venture and has also verified the intellectual property’s ownership;
- checks that the objective of the business is to develop potential products and services, that could promise high turnover rates;
- allows acceptance of business incubator applicants into the incubator program.
Since this is a pilot program, it can only process up to 2,750 applications annually. In addition to this, the complete duration of the visa program has been capped only five years. However, if this Start-Up visa program turns out to be successful, then the Canadian Government can choose to make the Start-Up visa scheme permanent before the end of its five-year period.
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