The Start-Up Visa program provides an opportunity for entrepreneurs with an innovative idea to set up business in Canada, create jobs for Canadians, while allowing them to compete on a global scale.
In addition, this program allows the entrepreneur to receive funding in order to establish and grow their business in Canada.
To be eligible for the Start-Up Visa program, the applicant must meet the following minimum requirements:
- Meet the minimum language requirement of CLB 5 in all areas in English or French
- Provide a letter of support from a designated organization who invest in start-ups, such as:
- Venture capital funds- minimum financial commitment of $200,000CAN
- Angel investor groups – minimum $75,000CAN
- Business incubators – no minimum investment required, but they must be accepted into a Canadian business incubator program
- Have proof of sufficient settlement funds
- Have a qualifying business that meets the following condition:
- Each applicant holds at least 10% voting rights (up to 5 applicants for one business are allowed, meaning up to 5 people can apply as owners) and jointly with the designated organization hold more than 50% of voting rights
- Intend to settle in any province except Quebec
- Be admissible to enter Canada
Letter of Support
To acquire this letter, the applicant will need to contact the designated organization directly and inquire how to get its support, which may require pitching your business idea to them in order to convince them it is worth their support. This can be through an interview with them or submitting a business plan; each organization has its own requirements.
To prove to the IRCC that you have secured support, you must send directly to them your letter of support and a Commitment Certificate which will also be given to you by the organization. The commitment certificate is valid for 6 months from the date is has been issued. Applicants must submit their application for permanent residence under this program before the commitment certificate expires.
If there are two or more applicants in this business venture, one applicant will be considered an “essential person”, meaning that individual is critical to the business and has been specifically identified as essential by the designated organization on the commitment certificate as well as the letter of support. If the essential person is rejected by the IRCC or withdraws their application, the other applicants will be rejected as well.
If you receive support from more than one organization, one organization will take the lead and provide a Letter of Support and Commitment Certificate to the applicant(s).
If one of the designated organization supporting your business is a venture capital fund, the minimum financial commitment must be $200,000CAN despite an angel investor group also investing in your business.
Peer Review Process
The objective of this process is to ensure the deal between the applicant(s) and the designated organization(s) is legitimate to protect against fraud.
The panel assess the level of due diligence performed by the designated entity to ensure it is consistent with industry standards, the terms of the commitment, the services to be provided, and whether any fees will be charged to the applicants.
The panel of experts also:
- Ensures that the business has been incorporated in Canada or will be
- Ensures that the business ownership has been verified and meets the Start-Up Visa program requirements
- Ensures the designated organization has considered the viability of the proposed business plan, assessed the management team of this business venture, and verified the ownership of the intellectual property
- Ensures the business’ focus is on a high-growth potential product and/or service
- If applicable, validates if the business was accepted into a business incubator program
The assessment made on this peer review process will be evaluated with the remainder of the information presented in the application in order to make a final decision.
Applications under the Start-Up Visa program are processed within 12-16 months. There is an option to acquire a short-term work permit while the application is being processed.