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November 19, 2018

Are You An Entrepreneur? Check out the Start-up Visa Program!

Posted by Rikhav Shah - Bellissimo Law Group PC

The Start-up Visa Program is meant to attract entrepreneurs from around the world with the intent that they settle in Canada and develop businesses which will create jobs and strengthen the Canadian economy by competing on a global scale. A good example of this are the companies Tesla, PayPal, and Space X, whose founder Elon Musk was born and raised in South Africa, but came to the USA to take advantage of the available entrepreneurial opportunities. Today, these companies are known and admired worldwide and have helped boost the economy of the United States. Canada hopes to achieve the same thing, but providing entrepreneurs with a positive environment from which to launch their business. This is an especially beneficial time for this program, as other traditional entrepreneurial destinations are becoming resistant to immigration, such as the USA and UK.

What are the requirements?

In short, applicants need to present a plan to build a business in Canada that is innovative, can create jobs for Canadians and can compete on a global scale. To be eligible for this program, the applicant(s) must have:

1. A qualifying business;
2. A letter of support from a designated organization;
3. Meet the language requirements; and
4. Bring enough money to settle in Canada.

1. A qualifying business is one where at the time that a Commitment was received from a designated organization, each applicant (if more than one; maximum of 5 owners) holds 10% or more of the voting rights of all outstanding shares in the corporation AND the applicants and the designated organization must jointly own more than 50% of the total voting rights in all outstanding shares of the corporation. In addition, at the time that permanent residence is received, the applicant(s) must show that the business is incorporated in Canada, that they provide active and ongoing management of the business from within Canada, and they are essential to the operations of the business in Canada. This is the ideal scenario; however, consideration will be made for a business whose incorporation is conditional upon the attainment of permanent residence by the applicant.

2. The second major requirement for the program is that applicants must obtain a letter of support from a designated organization, which refers to those which have been approved to invest in or support start-ups in the form of venture capital funds, angel investor groups and business incubators. A list of approved organizations from each has been provided on the IRCC website. There are different levels of minimum investment that must be secured by the applicants from whichever organization they obtain support from, whether it be venture capital funds ($200,000), angel investor groups ($75,000) or business incubators (acceptance into the incubator program). Each organization has its own policies and procedures and it is up to each applicant to navigate them on their own to obtain support – IRCC will not provide any assistance in this regard. If approved, the applicant will get a letter of support and the designated organization will directly forward a Commitment Certificate to IRCC.

3. The third factor involves meeting the minimum language requirement, which is a minimum of Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 5 in either English or French in each of speaking, reading, listening and writing.

4. Finally, applicants much bring enough money to settle in Canada. The amount depends on the size of the applicant’s family, regardless of whether they are accompanying the applicant to Canada or not; a table to this effect is available on the IRCC website. These funds must be available, transferable and free of debts or other obligations.

Processing fees and processing times?

The processing fee for this program is $1050, with the option to pay the Right of Permanent Residence Fee (RPRF) upfront or later in the process. Additional fees may apply depending on family composition. The processing time for this program is 12 to 16 months as of the most recent update on 31 October 2018. If an applicant wants to come to Canada prior to a decision being made, they can apply for a temporary work permit on the basis of the Commitment Certificate and letter of support from the designated organization. They must also show that it is essential for them to arrive early and have sufficient funds for themselves and their family.

For more information on the Start-up Visa Program, please click here.

Interested in booking a consultation? Please click here.