What is the Canada Start-Up Visa program? How is it different from the Canada Immigrant Investor Visa program?
Canada presents many opportunities for educated and qualified people to legally immigrate, reside and work in Canada. If you are interested in legally immigrating into Canada, you have probably already heard of the “Express Entry” program, which is specifically designed for facilitating skilled worker’s immigration to Canada. But what if you are not a worker, but an employer or an entrepreneur? Is there a program for people like you too? The answer is yes! If you are an investor or an entrepreneur who wants to build a business in Canada that will help the Canadian economy grow, you can move to Canada using the Canada Start-Up Visa Program! In this article, we will try to explain how Canada Start-Up Visa Program works, who can apply to it, what the application process is like and how a professional immigration consultant can help you speed up the process. Without further ado, let’s get started!
Canada Start-up Visa Program is a unique program that gives entrepreneurs or investors who want to start a business in Canada a path to Permanent Residency. To be eligible, your new business should be able to:
- compete with other companies on a global scale,
- create employment opportunities for Canadians
- be innovative and adaptive
There seems to be some confusion regarding the difference between Canada Start-up Visa Program and the Canada Immigrant Investor Visa Program. Most people use these two terms interchangeably but they are not the same thing. Canada Immigrant Investor Visa, also known as the Federal Immigrant Investor Program officially, is not available as of 2014. To apply for this, you had to have a net worth of CAD 1.6 million and promised to invest at least CAD 800,000 to government-backed securities and kept your investment there for 5 years. After 5 years, your investment would be returned to you in full and you and your immediate family would have received permanent residency. The Canada Start-up Visa Program replaced the Federal Immigrant Investor Program, in spirit at least. There are a lot of Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs) that still accept Immigrant Investors with a large amount of net worth, but they are not the main topic of this page. If you’re not interested in the Start-up Program but want to apply for the Immigrant Investor Visa Program, you can get more information about PNPs here.
Who Is Eligible for the Canada Start-Up Visa Program?
To be eligible for Canada Start-up Visa, you have to fulfill a couple of factors. These factors are:
- you must have a qualifying business,
- you must be able to obtain a letter of support from a designated organization,
- you must be proficient enough in either English or French,
- you must have enough money to settle in Canada
We’re going to take a look at each factor individually because all of these factors have their unique aspects.
Your business can have up to five owners and all of them can apply as part of the Start-up Visa program. At the same time, you (and the other owners, if there are any) must be managing the business within Canada. The main operations of your business should be taking place in Canada and naturally, your company must be incorporated in Canada. Overall, your company must have a significant attachment to Canada, so you cannot just incorporate a company in Canada and operate mainly through India (just as an example).
How to Get a Letter of Support? What are the “Designated Organizations”?
This is perhaps the most important stage for being eligible for the Start-up Visa. Getting or not getting the letter of support will make or break your application. So we will try to explain what exactly is a letter of support. As you are applying for a start-up visa, the Canadian government is not expecting you to undertake all the costs of investment by yourself. However, by getting a letter of support from organizations that are designated by the IRCC (Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada – the immigration authority of Canada) you will show that you have secured the necessary funding or investment from these organizations for creating your business in Canada. There are three types of designated organizations, according to the IRCC:
The organizations that fall under each category are changed every year, IRCC might accept new ones or remove older ones. So any potential applicant to the Canada Start-up Visa Program must make sure to check these lists out regularly. The minimum amount of investment depends on what type of dependent organization you will be working with. In short;
- If a Venture Capital Fund is supporting you, the minimum amount of investment you must secure from them is CAD 200,000
- If an Angel Investor Group is supporting you, the minimum amount of investment you must secure from them is CAD 75,000
- Finally, you don’t need to secure any minimum amount of investment if you’re accepted into a Canadian Business Incubator program.
The differences between these organizations are a whole different kettle of fish, but we will try to touch on it shortly. Venture Capital Funds are very big investment funds that are not investing with their own money. If you have a particularly large business idea, you should be making your pitch to them. Angel Investors are smaller investors that are generally doing investments with their own money. Finally, business incubators are cutting-edge firms and organizations (such as universities) that are interested in really innovative ideas. Although the Canadian Business Incubator program might look really attractive because you don’t have to secure a fixed amount of investment, getting accepted to these programs is very difficult unless your business is groundbreaking.
After touching on perhaps the most important step, let’s continue with other factors of eligibility.
As a potential business owner in Canada, you must show your proficiency in one of the official languages of Canada, English or French. Even if you are proficient in both of these languages, showing proficiency in one of them will suffice. You must meet the minimum level of the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 5. You can find the tests you can submit to show you are proficient enough and the equivalency of CLB 5 below:
|CLB 5 EQUIVALENT SCORES||Speaking||Listening||Reading||Writing|
|ENGLISH||IELTS – General||5.0||4.0||5.0||5.0|
|CELPIP – General||5||5||5||5|
|FRENCH||TEF – Canada||225||180||150||225|
|TCF – Canada||6||369-397||375-405||6|
How Much Money Do I Need to Bring?
We’ve mentioned that you won’t need to undertake all of the investment costs of your business in Canada, however, you’ll still need to take care of yourself and all of your dependants. The Canadian government does not provide financial support for people who are applying with the start-up visa program, so you will have to bring enough money to show that you are able to take care of yourself without any aid from the government. The minimum amount of money you need to bring changes with the number of dependents you have, so you can find the detailed table below. Be advised that these numbers change every year:
|Number of Family Members||Funds Required|
Get a Temporary Work Permit While You’re Waiting
Whilst you are waiting for your start-up visa process to finalize, you can get a short-term work permit and carry on doing your business in Canada without losing any time. In order to be eligible for a temporary work permit, you must have already received the Commitment Certificate and the Letter of Support from the designated entity. The designated organization will claim that your early entry into Canada is essential for the continuation of your business. All you need to is pay the CAD 230 employer compliance fee and show proof funds that you will be able to financially support yourself and your dependents for a year. You can bring your spouse and dependent children.
How Can We Help You With Your Start-Up Visa?
As you can see, applying for permanent residency through the start-up visa program can be really time-consuming. By IRCC’s own estimates, the entire process can take up to 16 months! Keeping track of all the bureaucratic processes especially while you’re trying to manage your business can be extremely overwhelming. Meanwhile, you’ll be already dealing with the stress of getting a letter of support from a designated organization, of which there are more than 60 will stress you out even more. And as you’ll find out, getting that letter of support will only be half of it. You’ll still need to apply, fill out a lot of forms and send them, get your biometrics scanned, pay necessary fees and the list just goes on! Instead of tackling all of these tasks by yourself, you can get professional support from our expert team of immigration consultants at CANADAPT. If you still have some doubts, why not give it a try and fill the form below for a free 15-minute consultation!