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What is the Canada Start-Up Visa Residence Program?

What is the Canada Start-Up Visa Residence Program?

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Introduction

Canada has a reputation as one of the best places to start a new business, especially because it also has some great immigration programs for international entrepreneurs.

The Canada Start-Up Visa Residence Program provides permanent residence for eligible entrepreneurs and their families through the immigration system.

The program works with nominated business incubators in Canada to find potential new entrepreneurs who will contribute to the Canadian economy.

In this article, we’ll look at what you need to do be eligible for the program and how to apply for a residence permit in Canada.

The Canada Start-Up Visa Program welcomes entrepreneurs with innovative business ideas
The Canada Start-Up Visa Program welcomes entrepreneurs with innovative business ideas. | Photo: Pexels

What is the Canada Start-Up Visa Program?

The Canada start-up visa residence program is designed to attract talented entrepreneurs who want to start businesses in Canada.

The Canadian government particularly is looking for entrepreneurs with the skills and potential to build businesses in Canada that: are innovative, can create jobs for Canadians, and can compete on a global scale.

The program works with nominated business incubators in Canada that provide mentorship, support and training to help new businesses get off the ground. The program works with nominated business incubators in Canada to find potential new entrepreneurs who will contribute to the Canadian economy.

To qualify for the start-up visa residence program, you must first have an incubator or accelerator accept you on your pitch. In addition, you need to meet the following requirements:

You must have an incubator or accelerator accept you on your pitch.

You must have a letter of support from a designated business incubator.

You must meet the minimum language requirements (you can take up to 6 months’ worth of classes if you’re studying French).

You must show enough money to settle in Canada once you get there (the financial requirement varies depending on whether or not your business has been successful).  The minimum amount is $75,000 but most people require more than this!

To qualify for the start-up visa residence program, you must first have an incubator or accelerator accept you on your pitch. An incubator or accelerator is a business environment where startups can develop their ideas and grow their businesses.

Incubators have been around for decades and offer several different services such as shared offices space (some even rent out entire floors) as well as financial support from investors who want to help grow their businesses but don’t have enough capital themselves.

Accelerators typically provide mentorship programs that teach new entrepreneurs how they can best run their companies while also providing access to investors who may be interested in helping fund them further down the road if things go well at this stage of development.

How do I apply for a Canada Start-Up Visa?

The Canada Start-Up Visa Residence Program provides entrepreneurs with the opportunity to immigrate to Canada, establish a business and create jobs. It’s a great way for international investors, start-ups and entrepreneurs who want to launch or grow their company in Canada.

The Canada Start-Up Visa Residence Program is designed to provide entrepreneurs with residency status in Canada if they fulfill certain conditions, including having a business start-up or expansion plan that meets certain requirements.

If you have an entrepreneurial idea and you have the right amount of investment capital, you can apply for a residence visa through this program.

Businesses can also apply for this program if they have already been granted permanent residence through another visa category or as part of an existing immigration program (such as the Skilled Worker or Skilled Trades programs).

First of all, you need to be actually admissible to enter Canada as the government will refuse your application otherwise.

Next, you need to have a qualifying business to apply with. A qualifying business means you created a business that meets the following conditions.

Each applicant at the time you receive a commitment from a designated organization must hold 10% or more of the voting rights associated with all outstanding shares of the corporation at that time (up to five applicants may be considered owners).

Additionally, applicants and the designated organization must collectively hold more than 50% of the total voting rights associated with all outstanding shares of the corporation.

There is also the requirement that at the time you receive your permanent residence, you must be able to provide evidence of your active and ongoing management of this business from within Canada; that an essential part of the operations of the business happens in Canada; and that this business is incorporated in Canada.

How do I get a designated organization to support my Canada Start-up Visa application?

Aspiring entrepreneurs who apply must already have a letter of support from an organization, likely a business group that can invest in or support possible start-ups, that is approved by the government of Canada.

In essence, you will need to contact a designated organization to find out how to get its support, convince the organization that you have a business idea that is worth supporting, and get a letter of support from the designated organization from there.

Of course, how you are to do this will vary wildly depending on the organization you want to approach. Each organization has a different method for processing pitches, and every organization has unique needs. For instance, you might be required to give a live presentation of your business idea or submit a thorough business plan.

If a company agrees to consider your business idea, it will evaluate the viability of your plan and its potential. An organization will then provide you with a Letter of Support if it decides to support your business idea.

Below is a list of designated organizations or business groups that are approved to invest in or support possible start-ups through the Canada Start-up Visa Program.

Venture Capital Funds

You must secure a minimum investment of $200,000 from these companies to qualify for the start-up visa.

  • 7 Gate Ventures
  • Apex Innovative Investments Ventures
  • Arete Pacific Tech Ventures (VCC) Corp
  • BCF Ventures
  • BDC Venture Capital
  • Celtic House Venture Partners
  • Extreme Venture Partners LLP
  • First Fund
  • Golden Venture Partners Fund, LP
  • iNovia Capital Inc.
  • Intrinsic Venture Capital
  • Lumira Ventures
  • Invest Nova Scotia
  • PRIVEQ Capital Funds
  • Real Ventures
  • Red Leaf Capital Corp
  • Relay Ventures
  • ScaleUp Venture Partners, Inc.
  • Tangentia Ventures
  • Top Renergy Inc.
  • Vanedge Capital Limited Partnership
  • Version One Ventures
  • WhiteHaven Venture
  • Westcap Management Ltd.
  • Yaletown Venture Partners Inc.
  • York Entrepreneurship Development Institute (YEDI) VC Fund

Angel investor groups

You must get one or more investors connected to these groups to agree to invest a minimum of $75,000:

  • Canadian International Angel Investors
  • Ekagrata Inc.
  • Golden Triangle Angel Network
  • Keiretsu Forum Canada
  • Oak Mason Investments Inc.
  • TenX Angel Investors Inc.
  • VANTEC Angel Network Inc.
  • York Angel Investors Inc.

Business incubators

You must be accepted into one of these programs:

  • Alacrity Foundation
  • Alberta Agriculture and Forestry in either the Agrivalue Processing Business Incubator program or the Food Processing Development Centre
  • Alberta IoT Association
  • Biomedical Commercialization Canada Inc. (operating as Manitoba Technology Accelerator)
  • Brilliant Catalyst
  • Creative Destruction Lab
  • DMZ Ventures
  • Empowered Startups Ltd.
  • Extreme Innovations
  • Genesis Centre
  • Highline BETA Inc.
  • Invest Nova Scotia
  • Innovation Cluster – Peterborough and the Kawarthas
  • Innovation Factory
  • Interactive Niagara Media Cluster o/a Innovate Niagara
  • Invest Ottawa
  • Knowledge Park o/a Planet Hatch
  • L-SPARK
  • LatAm Startups
  • Launch Academy – Vancouver
  • LaunchPad PEI Inc.
  • Millworks Centre for Entrepreneurship
  • NEXT Canada
  • North Forge East Ltd.
  • North Forge Technology Exchange
  • Pacific Technology Ventures
  • Platform Calgary
  • Pycap Inc (o/a Pycap Venture Partners)
  • Real Investment Fund III L.P. o/a FounderFuel
  • Roseview Global Incubator
  • Spark Commercialization and Innovation Centre
  • Spring Activator
  • The DMZ at Ryerson University
  • Think8 Global Institute
  • Toronto Business Development Centre (TBDC)
  • Treefrog
  • TSRV Canada Inc. (operating as Techstars Canada)
  • University of Toronto Entrepreneurship Hatchery
  • VIATEC
  • Waterloo Accelerator Centre
  • York Entrepreneurship Development Institute

A letter of support will be provided if you and the specified group can come to an agreement. When you submit your application to the Canada Start-up Visa Program, you must include this letter. This is the evidence you need to present to demonstrate the support your business idea has from the venture capital fund, angel investor group, or business incubator.

Alongside a letter of support, the organization will also send a commitment certificate directly to the Canadian government informing them of your agreement. Both the letter of support and the organization’s commitment certificate will then be used to assess your application.

Take note that the Canadian government may contact you for additional business information in order to assess and make their final decision on your application.

Needless to say, if you cannot provide the letter of support or meet any of the other requirements, your application will be denied.

It is also worth noting that a short-term work permit can be granted to foreign nationals who possess both a Commitment Certificate and Letter of Support from a designated organization.

This means that you can apply for a short-term work permit under the International Mobility Program before submitting an application for permanent residence under the Start-Up Visa (SUV) Program.

This will allow you to work on your business in Canada while you wait for the Canadian government to come to a decision about your visa application.

To be eligible for the short-term work permit, you must plan to live in a province or territory other than Quebec; pay the government the employer compliance fee; and have sufficient funds to meet the low income cut off for your family for 52 weeks.

The Commitment Certificate and a Letter of Support you receive from a designated entity must also indicate that you are “essential” to your business and as such, there are urgent business reasons for your early entry to Canada.

You must submit your “self-employed” offer of employment and pay the $230 employer compliance fee before filing an application for a work permit.

After ensuring you satisfy these requirements, you should proceed to the Employer Portal provided by the government. You can find instructions how to fill out your application here.

You can start working on your business as soon as you get backing from a designated organization
You can start working on your business as soon as you get backing from a designated organization. | Photo: Pexels

What other requirements do I need to meet?

Obviously, you would need to be able to communicate and work in English, French or both languages if you want to establish your business in Canada.

The Canadian government requires you to must take a language test from an approved agency and include the results with your application to the Canada Start-Up Visa program. Without this inclusion, your application will not be processed.

You must meet the minimum level of the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 5 in either English or French in speaking, reading, listening, and writing. If you take a language test from an approved agency, you can use your results to find your CLB level.

If you don’t meet the minimum language skills, your application will be denied.

Finally, it is important to note that the government of Canada does not give financial support to new start-up visa immigrants.

You must demonstrate in your application that you will be able to support yourself and any dependents after you arrive in Canada. This money cannot be borrowed from a third party.

The required amount of money you need to present will vary based on the size of your family. These amounts also get updated every year to account for inflation. These are the figures at present.

  • An individual applicant should have at least $13,310.
  • An applicant with a family of two will need $16,570.
  • An applicant with a family of three will need $20,371.
  • An applicant with a family of four will need $24,733.
  • An applicant with a family of five will need $28,052.
  • An applicant with a family of six will need $31,638.
  • An applicant with a family of seven will need $35,224.

From there, each additional family member will raise the required amount by $3,586.

The Canada Start-Up Visa Residence Program a great way for international entrepreneurs with good, solid ideas for new businesses to get a foothold inside of Canada. Be sure to consult with the relevant experts and authorities to ensure your success.

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Adam is an internationally recognised author on financial matters, with over 760.2 million answer views on Quora.com, a widely sold book on Amazon, and a contributor on Forbes.

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