Start up Visa

Start up Visa

The federal government is moving to entrench an immigration pilot project known as the Start-up Visa Program, which offers permanent residency to foreign entrepreneurs who agree to bring their companies to Canada. Due to its successes, Start-up Visa pilot Program will become a regular Program attracting entrepreneurs to Canada.

  • Start-Up Visa Pilot Program was Launched on April 1, 2013
  • Program was designed to attract and facilitate the entry of the innovative foreign entrepreneurs who could contribute to the emerging needs of the Canadian economy.
  • There are 32 venture capital funds, 6 angel investor groups and 14 business incubators.
  • The Start-up Visa Program was initially decided to run until 2018, but will now remain a part of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) policy to invite more entrepreneurs.

Selection criteria for the pilot are as follows:

  • Letter of Support: Before applying to immigrate through Start-Up Visa, immigrant entrepreneurs must secure a commitment from a designated Canadian business incubator, angel investor group or venture capital fund to support their business concept.
  • Qualifying Business: A business will be called a ‘qualifying business’ if following conditions are met:
    • When commitment from a designated organization is obtained:
      •   Each applicant must hold 10% or more of the voting rights attached to all shares of the corporation outstanding at that time (up to 5 people can apply as owners)
    • When the permanent residency is received:
      • Actively manage this business from within Canada
      • Carry the essential part of the operations in Canada
      • Incorporate the business in Canada
  • Other: In addition, applicants must demonstrate language proficiency in either English or French at Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB)/Niveau de compétence linguistique canadien (NCLC) level 5, possess a certain ownership share in their business, and show that they have a enough level of funds to sustain themselves while in Canada.

Before a foreign entrepreneur (or an entrepreneurial team of up to five individuals) applies under Start-up Visa, they must contact and receive support from a designated entity. If a designated entity decides to support their business, it will provide them with a letter of support. The designated entity will also send a commitment certificate directly to IRCC. Once the application package is received, IRCC will assess the application and may submit certain business proposals to an industry association for peer review as needed.

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