START UP VISA PROGRAM
You can immigrate to Canada by starting a business and creating jobs, or support innovative entrepreneurs.
The Start-up Visa Program is Canada’s flagship immigration program for entrepreneurs seeking to become permanent residents of Canada. Persons who qualify for the Startup Visa Program can apply for permanent residency for Canada.
The Start-up Visa Program is intended for foreign nationals who wish to establish an innovative business in Canada that creates jobs for Canada. Foreign nationals may establish the business alone or with a group of partners. The group can have no more than 5 foreign national partners.
The objective of the SUV program is to enhance Canada’s competitiveness in global marketplaces.
Persons who are interested in immigrating to Canada as entrepreneurs through the Start-up Visa Program begin by receiving the support from an organization designated by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to support their start-up business in Canada. Designated organizations include:
- Business incubators and accelerators;
- Angel Investor Groups; and
- Venture Capital Funds (VCs).
The list of designated organizations changes from time to time.
These organizations are approved to invest in or support the development of an entrepreneur or a group of entrepreneurs wishing to start-up a business in Canada.
You must then meet several immigration requirements in order to qualify for the SUV program.
Finding an eligible business
Submitting an application
Obtain your Work Permit
Work in Canada, then apply for PR
Business Immigration Streams
For a startup business to qualify for the program you must:
- Incorporate your business in Canada;
- Carry on business in Canada;
- Own at least 10% of the voting shares of your business;
- Have no more than 4 other foreign national partners owning shares in your business (for a total of no more than 5 foreign nationals owning shares in the business);
- If you have foreign national partners, each of your foreign national partners must own at least 10% of the voting shares of your business; and
- You, your foreign national partners if you have any and your designated organization must together control more than 50% of the voting rights attached to your shares in the business.
Designated organizations are able to exercise their discretion in determining which start-up businesses they wish to support. The specific criteria vary organization to organization. However, support must include the following:
- If the organization is a business incubator or accelerator, the foreign entrepreneur must usually complete a program or course run by the organization. Timelines, requirements and even costs vary;
- If the organization is an Angel Investor Group, the group must commit to investing at least $75,000 CAD in the start-up business; or
- If the organization is a Venture Capital Fund (VC), the VC must commit to investing at least $200,000 CAD in the start-up business.
The investment of the Angel Investor Group or VC must be for the purposes of owning shares or otherwise acquiring equity in your business.
To be eligible for the Start-up Visa Program, you must:
Processing time for Start-up Visa Program applications vary depending on the demand for the program and the number of immigration officers assigned by the immigration department to assess the applications.
However, these applications typically take about 1 year to process, plus or minus 6 months. Up to date estimated processing times are provided on-line by the Government of Canada.
These estimated processing times represent how long it has taken the Government of Canada 80% of Startup Visa Program applications submitted to date. It is important to note that estimated processing times do not necessarily tell you how long it will take for your Start-up Visa Program application to be processed. Your application can take shorter or longer than the posted estimated processing time.
Currently, the Government of Canada does not offer the option for applicants to purchase priority, urgent or express processing.
Persons who have applied for the Startup Visa Program may also be eligible to apply for a Work Permit while they wait for their application for permanent residency to be approved.
In order to qualify, you must demonstrate that:
- You have received a Commitment Certificate and the support from a designated organization;
- Your letter of support from the designated organization describes you as essential to the business;
- Your letter of support also explains the urgent business reasons for your requested entry;
- Your admission to Canada is to work for your start-up business in Canada;
- You a certain minimum amount of settlement funds available for you to support your move to Canada; and
- You are not otherwise inadmissible to Canada.
Connect with one of our expert
March 31, 2020 Ottawa, Ontario On March 20, 2020, the Government of Canada sent a call to action to Canadian businesses and manufacturers to help