Canada creates immigration programs that attract foreign talent, business and investment to strengthen the economy and advance innovation.
As an entrepreneur, you can set up a new business in Canada and apply for the Start-up Visa Program. Through this program, if you are a successful applicant, you can obtain permanent residency.
Who is Eligible for the Start-up Visa Program?
You must meet the following eligibility requirements to qualify for the Start-up Visa Program:
Qualifying Business: Your business qualifies for the Start-up Visa program if you hold at least 10% of the voting rights out of all shareholders of the company.
Together with the designated organization, your combined total should be at least 50% of voting rights out of all shareholders of the company.
Letter of Support from a Designated Organization: You are required to obtain a letter of support or commitment certificate from a designated organization in Canada.
Designated organizations are business groups that can be approved to invest in or support possible start-up ventures.
The business groups can be composed of private sector Canadians who are angel investors, a venture capital fund or a business or start-up incubator.
You will need to pitch your business idea to them and convince them to invest in or support your new business.
Financial Resources: You must also demonstrate enough financial funds to support yourself and your accompanying family members’ stay in Canada.
English or French Language Proficiency: You must take an approved language proficiency test. You must score at least a level 5 to achieve the minimum level of the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB).
You will be required to have at least a year of study at a post-secondary institution.
You must also clear the admissibility requirements at the federal level to be eligible. Being inadmissible to Canada would disqualify you from this opportunity.
What are the Designated Organizations for the Start-up Visa Program?
To be eligible for the Start-up Visa Program, you must acquire a letter of support or commitment certificate from a designated organization in Canada.
You can have an arrangement with 1 or multiple designated organizations. If you meet the eligibility requirements, then you will be required to secure a minimum amount of $75,000 from a Canadian angel investor.
Or, you can secure a minimum of $200,000 from a Canadian venture capital fund supported by the Canadian government.
Unlike other investor and business immigration programs, you are not required to make any minimum investment out of your own funds.
What is the Peer Review Process for the Start-up Visa Program?
The peer-review process is designed to protect the Start-up Visa program against any fraud. The peer-review involves assessing the deals made between foreign investors and Canadian designated organizations to make sure they are legitimate.
An independent industry review panel carries out the peer-review process. The type of panel reviewing the deal depends on the type of organization providing the letter of support.
The National Angel Capital Organization is responsible for establishing a review panel if you make a deal with a Canadian angel investor.
If the commitment is made by a venture capital fund, then the Venture Capital and Private Equity Association will set up a review.
A peer review is not always mandatory, however, it can be requested by an immigration officer. A peer review confirms that the deal has been made according to industry standards.
A peer review confirms that:
- The new organization will be established in Canada
- The business owner has met all program requirements
- The designated organization has assessed the business model and verified the ownership
- The business is focused on a potentially high growth product or service
- The deal is validated
The Start-up Visa program is valid for a maximum period of 5 years.
How Does the Start-up Visa Work for Canadian Investors Supporting Foreign Investors?
The Start-up Visa program allows Canadian investors to support foreign investors to establish a new business in Canada.
To become a designated organization, you can apply to the government body of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).
You will require a minimum level of investment to qualify for different types of organizations.
Angel investors require a minimum of $75,000 investment. As a venture capital fund, a minimum investment of $200,000 is required.
To be a business incubator, no minimum investment is required. However, they must be approved by the IRCC and you must also be accepted into their business incubator program.