Overview of Start-Up Visa Program
Canada’s Start-Up Visa Program is aimed at business people who wish to start a new business in Canada and become permanent residents (PR). The new venture must be a qualifying one. This means it must have the support of a designated organization, as well as be able to compete on a global scale, create jobs for Canadians and be innovative.
You can bring your dependents with you to Canada on a Start-Up Visa. Dependents include a spouse or common-law partner, and children under 22 years of age who do not have a spouse or common-law partner.
If you would like to go to Canada to start setting up your new business whilst you wait for a decision on your Start-Up Visa application, you are allowed to apply for a temporary work permit.
The Canada Start-up Visa Program offers several benefits, other than being a direct path to PR and being able to freely live, work and study anywhere in Canada. As someone with Canadian PR, you will also have access to health and welfare systems, and education for your children. Additionally, you will be able to sponsor relatives to settle in Canada, and after 3 years of permanent residence, you will be eligible to apply for Canadian citizenship. The advantages of Canadian citizenship are that you will be able to vote and get a Canadian passport, which you are not eligible for with PR.
Read on to find out more about the Start-Up Visa requirements and application process.
To be eligible for the Start-up Visa, there are four main requirements that must be met. A summary of these is as follows with more information below:
- Have a qualifying business
- Gain the support of a designated organization
- Prove your English or French language proficiency
- Prove you have sufficient settlement funds
A qualifying business means the following:
- You must hold at least 10% of the total voting rights of the company
- Along with the designated organization, you must jointly hold more than 50% of the voting rights
- The business must be incorporated in Canada and you must operate and manage it from Canada.
For the designated organization requirement you will need to provide a letter of support from a designated organization. A designated organization can be a venture capital fund, an angel investor group, or a business incubator.
To secure such support you will need to approach potential designated organizations, book meetings, and pitch your business venture to them. You may be able to pitch to them online, or you may need to do this in person.
For the language requirement, you’ll need to book an English or French language test from an approved agency. The minimum level you must meet is level 5 of the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB).
As for the proof of funds, although for the Start-Up Visa no personal investment in your business is required, you do need to show you have enough funds to settle in Canada. The amount of these funds is set according to the size of your family, as follows:
- Single applicant – $13,213 CDN
- 2 family members – $16,449 CDN
- 3 family members – $20,222 CDN
- 4 family members – $24,553 CDN
- 5 family members – $27,847 CDN
- 6 family members – $31,407 CDN
- 7 family members – $34,967 CDN
- For each additional family member: $3,560 CDN
Additionally, you must also meet the Canadian admissibility requirements.
To be eligible for the Start-Up Visa, your new business must obtain the support of a designated organization.
Designated organizations are business groups that have been approved by the Canadian government to provide investment or support to new businesses through the Start-Up Visa Program. The support you will need to secure from a designated organization varies depending on the type of organization:
- Angel Investor Group – at least $75,000 CDN
- Venture Capital Fund – at least $200,000 CDN
- Business Incubator Program -acceptance into a designated Business Incubator Program (no investment capital is needed)
A list of designated organizations can be found here. Designated organizations will differ in their processes for providing support to visa applicants. For example, you may need to provide a comprehensive business plan or to pitch your business idea in person.
Upon securing the support of a designated organization, you will receive a letter of support with 6-month validity. This needs to be included in your Start-Up Visa visa application. A Commitment Certificate will also be sent directly to IRCC by the designated organization.
Application & Supporting Documents
Applications for the Start-Up Visa are made via hard-copy in the post, or online.
If you are sending your application via post, the completed form, required documentation, and fee payment need to be sent to one of the IRCC’s addresses in Sydney, Nova Scotia on this page. A single envelope of size 23 cm x 30.5 cm (9″ x 12″) should be used with the words ”Start-up business visa” written on the front of the envelope. The document checklist needs to be printed and added as the cover page of your application. Two self-addressed mailing labels must be sent in the envelope. It’s advisable to keep copies of your application and supporting documents.
Significant supporting documentation needs to be submitted along with the Start-Up Visa application. As well as documentation to show you meet the four main requirements, you’ll need to submit other documents. These can vary depending on your business proposal and your individual circumstances but generally, other documents include passport, photographs, birth certificate, marriage certificate (if applicable), police certificates and clearances, receipt of payment of Start-Up Visa fees.
Unless specifically requested, only copies, not originals of documentation should be sent.
Medical exams will need to be undertaken, and biometrics (fingerprints and photos) given. IRCC will contact you with regard to these. Upon receipt of your biometrics, IRCC will begin processing your application.
The processing time for a Start-Up Visa is around 12 to 16 months.
As with most Canadian visas, including the Start-Up Visa, applicants must prove their language proficiency in either English or French. In order to do this, a language test through an IRCC-approved agency must be taken, and the test result submitted when you apply.
For the Start-Up Visa, the level of English or French proficiency required is Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) Level 5 or higher. The test cannot be taken more than two years before making an application.
The following test agencies are approved by the Canadian government to provide language testing:
- English (IELTS) – Cambridge Assessment English, IDP Australia, and The British Council
- English (CELPIP G-Test) – Paragon Testing Enterprises Inc.
- French (TCF Canada) – France Education International (FEI)
- French (TEF Canada) – The Paris Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Fees are payable when arranging a language test.
In general, the following Start-Up Visa fees apply:
Main applicant – $1,575 CDN application fee and $500 CDN Right of Permanent Residence Fee (RPRF)
Accompanying spouse/common-law partner – $825 CDN – Application fee for spouse/common-law partner and $500 CDN Right of Permanent Residence Fee (RPRF)
Dependent child – $225 CDN application fee
In most cases, biometrics will need to be given, for which the fee is currently $170 CDN.
Other fees including language tests, medical exams, police certificates, and translation of documents fees (if applicable) will also be payable.
There is an IRCC Fees Wizard tool that tells you the fees you will need to pay for your chosen immigration program. Payment of fees can also be made via this tool.
At Total Law, we understand how important the process of setting up a business in Canada is, and all that is involved, including settling in a new country and bringing your family with you (if applicable). Our immigration lawyers are well versed in helping clients every step of the way when it comes to Canadian immigration programs.
We offer a tailor-made service for your individual situation, that ensures a compelling and error-free application is submitted, including the following steps:
- A thorough assessment of your situation, goals, and eligibility for the Start-Up Visa
- Support with securing the support of a designated organization
- Direct handling of aspects of the process, or supporting you with actions that need to occur including:
- Gathering required documentation
- Arranging the language test
- Undertaking medical exams
- Obtaining police certificates
- Correctly submitting the visa application
- Applying for a temporary work permit (if relevant)
Comprehensive immigration advice tailored to your circumstances and goals.
Designed to make your visa application as smooth and stress-free as possible.
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During this untimed Advice Session with our professional immigration lawyers in London, you will receive our comprehensive advice, completely tailored to your needs and your situation.
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With our Application Package, your dedicated immigration lawyer will advise you on your application process and eligibility. Your caseworker will then complete and submit your forms to the Home Office on your behalf.
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By choosing our Appeal Package, you can rely on our lawyers’ legal knowledge and experience to ensure you have the highest chance of a successful appeal. We will also fully represent you in any hearings/tribunals.
It takes around 12 to 16 months to get a decision on a Canadian Start-Up Visa application, including any time needed for biometrics to be taken.
For a Start-Up Visa, those counted as dependents are your spouse or common-law partner, and dependent children under 22 years of age who do not have a spouse or common-law partner.
Quebec manages its own business immigration programs which include the Quebec Entrepreneur and Quebec Investor programs.
Find out more about these via Quebec’s immigration website.