Immigration to Canada for founders of start up companies
In March 2018 the government made Canada’s Start-up Visa program a permanent immigration category. It began as a pilot program but due to high demand and growing interest from entrepreneurs worldwide it has been given permanence. The Start-up Visa program was designed to attract entrepreneurs with ground-breaking business ideas to immigrate to Canada and achieve their dreams. The ideal candidates are individuals who have the potential to become financially established and to contribute to the Canadian economy.

Canada's Start-up VisaAre you an entrepreneur?

This article explains how you can qualify for Canada’s Start-up Visa immigration program. Canada is the first country to make an offer of this kind. Through this program, successful applicants will establish a Canadian business that is original, globally competitive, and employs Canadians. In turn, they will receive permanent residence status in Canada!

Create a strong business plan

Remember that your idea should be innovative and competitive in the global arena. You must also plan to hire Canadians. Your business plan should reflect your creativity but also be realistic.

Below are the business ownership requirements for Canada’s Start-up Visa:

  • You can have up to 5 members in your business proposal.
  • Each member must have at least 10% voting rights to all outstanding shares.
  • Members and organization(s) supporting your business idea must together hold over 50% of voting rights to all outstanding shares.

You must also meet the following conditions relating to management and operations:

  • You must actively and continuously manage the business in Canada.
  • Main business operations must be concentrated in Canada.
  • Your business must be incorporated within Canada.

It is understandable if you cannot meet these requirements at the beginning. However, you must convince the Canada immigration authorities that you intend to meet the conditions once you receive permanent residence status in Canada.

Pitch your innovative idea to a Canadian government-approved organization

In order to be eligible for Canada’s Start-up Visa, you must receive a letter of support and commitment certificate from a designated organization. These organizations are government-approved to provide support. They include venture capital funds, angel investor groups, and business incubators. For a complete list visit the Government of Canada website.

Canada's Start-up Visa

It’s important to impress the organization with your business plan to get their support. Each organization has its own conditions and procedures. Before you make your pitch, be sure to follow the organization’s instructions on submitting business plans. Ultimately, it will be up to you to meet their requirements, present your business plan, and convince them that your idea is worth supporting.

Get a letter of support and commitment certificate

When an organization decides to support your business venture, they will issue a commitment certificate and give you a letter of support. Without them, you won’t be eligible for a Canadian Start-up Visa. The commitment certificate and letter of support must confirm that you have support from at least one of the following:

  • A venture capital fund confirming a total minimum investment of $200,000
  • An angel investor group confirming a total minimum investment of $75,000
  • A business incubator confirming your acceptance into its program

Take a language test

You must demonstrate your knowledge of English or French. You do this by providing test results from either CELPIP, IELTS, or TEF. The results must not be older than 2 years. You must score a minimum of 5 Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB) to be eligible. Without your test results, you won’t be eligible for a Start-up Visa.

Meet settlement funds requirements

You must have funds to support yourself and your family. Do not expect to receive any financial support from the government under Canada’s Start-up Visa program.

The minimum amount of money you need depends on the number of people in your family. So, for example, if you are single without children you must have at least C$12,475. If you are a family of four, C$23,181. To check the requirement for your family visit the Government of Canada website.

Keep in mind, borrowed money doesn’t count. Funds must be transferable and available.

Prepare your application for Canada’s Start-up Visa

Once you’ve met the above mentioned criteria, your application will be reviewed. Your business members and family must be found admissible in accordance with Canadian immigration law. In other words, you must not have any serious medical, criminal, or security issues.

For more information about Canada’s Start-up Visa, please contact us. For other immigration options, read our article on Express Entry.

We at Cohen, Decker, Pex & Brosh law offices would be happy to help you in the immigration process to Canada.

Canada's Start-up Visa

Canada’s Start-up Visa – Law firm

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