As you are probably aware, there are many options when it comes to migrating to Canada. The most popular options are the express entry and student route options. One other route not often talked about is the Startup Visa route. If you are an entrepreneur, this is definitely one route to consider. In this article, we will show you how to migrate to Canada via the Startup Visa route. If you are looking to migrate through express entry, you can read our immigration journey article.
1. The Startup Visa Program
Canada’s Startup Visa Program targets immigrant entrepreneurs with the skills and potential to build businesses in Canada. You will be expected to have the traits below:
- firstly, you must be innovative
- secondly, you can create jobs for Canadians
- thirdly, you can compete on a global scale
Please note that the Province of Quebec is in charge of its own business immigration program. If you plan to live in Quebec, visit Quebec’s immigration website.
Up to 5 people can apply through the Startup Visa Program as owners of a single business. When the designated organization reviews your proposal, it will decide who is essential or non-essential to the business. An essential person is critical to the proposed startup. Without this person, the designated organization would not invest or support the proposal.
While IRCC processes your application for permanent residence, you can apply for a temporary work permit to get to Canada and start building your business.
Note: If IRCC refuses the application of an essential person, all related applicants will be refused.
2. How To Qualify For The Startup Visa Program?
To qualify for the Startup Visa Program, you must meet certain eligibility requirements, as well as the admissibility requirements to enter Canada.
- have a qualifying business
- have a letter of support from a designated organization
- meet the language requirements, and
- have enough money to settle and live in Canada before you make money from your business
2.1. Have a Qualifying Business
A qualifying business means you created a business that meets the following conditions.
- At the time you get a commitment from a designated organization:
- each applicant holds 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) AND
- applicants and the designated organization jointly hold more than 50% of the total voting rights attached to all shares of the corporation outstanding at that time
- At the time you receive your permanent residence:
- you provide active and ongoing management of this business from within Canada
- an essential part of the operations of the business happens in Canada
- this business is incorporated in Canada
2.2. Getting a Letter of Support from a Designated Organization
A designated organization is a business group that has been approved to invest in or support possible startups in Canada. To get a letter of support, follow the steps below.
- contact the designated organization to find out how to get its support.
- convince the organization that you have a business idea that is worth supporting.
Please note that each organization has its own requirements. For example, some organization can ask to present your business concept in person or submit a detailed business plan.
If you reach an agreement with a designated organization, it will send you a letter of support. You need to include this letter when you submit your application to IRCC. This is the proof you need to show that a venture capital fund, angel investor group, or business incubator is supporting your business idea.
The organization will also send a commitment certificate directly to IRCC. The IRCC will use use both the letter of support and the organization’s commitment certificate to assess your application. If you don’t include the letter of support or meet any of the other requirements, IRCC will refuse your application.
The organization must belong to at least of the groups listed below.
- Venture capital funds
- Angel investor groups
- Business incubators
Minimum Investment Required
You will find below the minimum investment required to apply for the Startup Visa program.
- If the investment comes from a designated Canadian venture capital fund, you must secure a minimum investment of $200,000.
- If the investment comes from a designated Canadian angel investor group, you must secure a minimum investment of $75,000.
- You don’t need to secure a financial investment from a business incubator. You ONLY need to be accepted into a Canadian business incubator program.
There are 3 basic steps you need to follow when you are ready to apply to migrate to Canada via Startup Visa route. You with the details of each of the steps below.
Get the application package
The application package for a start-up visa includes the following:
Fill out the application form
- Fill out the Generic Application Form for Canada on your computer
- Click the “Validate” button on the form. If there are any fields you still need to fill out, they will be outlined in red
- Print the validated application form. Make sure to print all pages of the application form and the barcode page. The barcode page will come up after you validate the form. If you have more than one package, place a separate barcode page on each one.
- Finally, sign and date the form where asked
Complete the document checklist
When you are ready to submit your application, follow the checklist below:
- firstly, gather all supporting documents and information in the order identified in the Document Checklist
- Secondly, check off each item
- Thirdly, place all identification and supporting documents in a sealed envelope
- Fourthly, print out the document checklist and sign it
- Finally, include the document checklist as the cover page of your application
You must include all the forms, supporting documents, signatures, language test results and the proof of payment of the processing fees. If any are missing, your application will be incomplete. All of your answers must be complete and true.
Finally, if IRCC finds out that you gave false information or left out important details, the following could happen to you:
- your application could be refused
- IRCC could find you inadmissible and
- you could be barred for five years from applying to come to Canada for any reason
Pay your application fees
Once you complete the checklist, the next step is to pay your application fees. In most cases, your fees will include:
- processing fees for you and anyone you include on your application
- the Right of Permanent Residence Fee (RPRF)
- third-party fees
You have to pay your fees online..
Submit your application
Finally, submit your application. If there are multiple people applying for permanent residence (PR) as partners in a qualifying business, IRCC won’t process your application until you have sent all the required documents. Each business partner must submit their own application in a separate envelope.
If a team member will no longer be submitting a permanent residence application, use the web form to notify IRCC as soon as possible.
To have a complete application, you must:
- answer all questions
- sign your application and all forms
- pay your processing fees and attach a copy of the receipt to your application
- include all the supporting documents
Once you complete the steps above, mail your complete application to the address in the instruction guide.
The application processing time is between 12 and 16 months.
Decision on your application
IRCC will make a decision on your application if you:
- meet the eligibility criteria
- have enough money to support yourself and your family when you arrive in Canada
- pass the medical exam and police certificate verification
If your application is approved, IRCC will ask you to send your passport to the visa office nearest to you. The visa office will then issue your permanent resident visa. In other words, you can start preparing to migrate to Canada.
4. Admissibility requirements to enter Canada
To migrate to Canada via Startup Visa route, you must meet the admissibility requirements to enter Canada. These apply to all applicants, not just Startup Visa Program applicants.
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