Entrepreneurs who meet the requirements of the Canada Start-Up Visa program can become apply for permanent residence in Canada. The Start-up Visa Program in Canada seeks immigrant entrepreneurs who have the abilities and potential to establish enterprises in Canada that are innovative, capable of creating jobs for Canadians, and capable of competing on a global scale.
The program aims to bring innovative business owners to Canada, connect them with Canadian private sector companies (such as venture capital funds, angel investor groups, or business incubators), and assist them in establishing their start-up businesses in Canada.
Below are business, applicant and investment from designated entity requirements needed for Canada’s start-up visa program.
Who Qualifies for the Start-Up Visa Program?
Candidates for the Start-Up Visa program in Canada must satisfy four basic eligibility standards:
- Possess a qualified business idea;
- Secure an endorsement from a designated entity in the form of a Commitment Certificate and Letter of Support;
- Own sufficient, unencumbered, transferrable settlement funds that are updated annually (similar requirements apply to skilled workers);
- Show sufficient English or French proficiency through proper standardized testing and have at least Canadian Language Benchmark level 5.
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Requirements for designated entities
The designated entity must commit to the following standards:
- The designated angel investor group must certify that it is making a minimum investment of $75,000 into the qualifying business or that there are at least two other designated angel investor groups who have made investments totalling $75,000; or
- A designated venture capital fund must attest that it is making an investment of at least $200,000 in the qualifying business, or that there are at least two other designated venture capital funds that have made commitments totalling $200,000; or
- An approved business incubator must formally confirm that it will take the applicant into its business incubator program.
To be eligible prospective start-up business must be formed and operating in Canada at the time of the commitment, and it must also:
- Have at least 10% of the corporation’s voting rights belong to the applicant; and
- There should not be any other person holding 50% or more of the total amount of voting rights in the corporation.
The same business investment can have up to five applicants for permanent residence. However, some candidates might be deemed crucial to the desired business. All other candidates under the same business investment will have their applications terminated if any essential applicants withdraw their application or are rejected for other reasons.
Candidates who have obtained a Commitment Certificate from a recognized entity and who want to start working in the company while their application for permanent residency is processing may be able to apply for a short-term work permit.
An application for a work permit must include:
- A support letter from the designated entity
- Evidence that the applicants have sufficient funds to meet the low-income cut-off LICO for their family size for one year.
The following conditions must be satisfied to be granted permanent residence:
- Candidates must actively participate in the management of the company in Canada;
- The business’s operations, or a crucial component of it, must be located in Canada; and
- The business needs to be legally established in Canada.
The Start-Up Visa Program for Canada does not apply to candidates who intend to live in Quebec.
Eligible entities who can support applicants
The following designated entities are eligible to support an application for a Start-Up Visa:
Designated venture capital funds
- 7 Gate Ventures
- BCF Ventures
- BDC Venture Capital
- Celtic House Venture Partners
- Extreme Venture Partners LLP
- Golden Venture Partners Fund, LP
- Impression Ventures
- Innovation Platform Capital International LP
- iNovia Capital Inc.
- Lumira Capital
- Nova Scotia Innovation Corporation (o/a Innovacorp)
- OMERS Ventures Management Inc.
- Pangaea Ventures Ltd.
- PRIVEQ Capital Funds
- Real Ventures
- Relay Ventures
- ScaleUp Venture Partners, Inc.
- Top Renergy Inc.
- Vanedge Capital Limited Partnership
- Version One Ventures
- Westcap Management Ltd.
- Yaletown Venture Partners Inc.
- York Entrepreneurship Development Institute (YEDI) VC Fund
Designated angel investor groups
- Canadian International Angel Investors
- Ekagrata Inc.
- Golden Triangle Angel Network
- Keiretsu Forum Canada
- Oak Mason Investments Inc.
- Southeastern Ontario Angel Network
- TenX Angel Investors Inc.
- VANTEC Angel Network Inc.
- York Angel Investors Inc.
Designated business incubators
- Alacrity Foundation
- Alberta Agriculture and Forestry
- Biomedical Commercialization Canada Inc. (operating as Manitoba Technology Accelerator)
- Creative Destruction Lab
- Empowered Startups Ltd.
- Extreme Innovations
- Genesis Centre
- Highline BETA Inc.
- Interactive Niagara Media Cluster o/a Innovate Niagara
- Invest Ottawa
- Knowledge Park o/a Planet Hatch
- LatAm Startups
- Launch Academy – Vancouver
- LaunchPad PEI Inc.
- Millworks Centre for Entrepreneurship
- NEXT Canada
- North Forge Technology Exchange
- Platform Calgary
- Real Investment Fund III L.P. o/a FounderFuel
- Ryerson Futures Inc.
- Spark Commercialization and Innovation Centre
- Spring Activator
- The DMZ at Ryerson University
- Toronto Business Development Centre (TBDC)
- TSRV Canada Inc. (operating as Techstars Canada)
- Waterloo Accelerator Centre
- York Entrepreneurship Development Institute
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