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Start-Up Visa Canada: Immigration Pathway for Entrepreneurs

Updated: May 14

The Canadian Start-Up Visa Program was developed to attract potential skilled and innovative entrepreneurs to Canada to establish companies that are dynamic and have the capability to compete globally and create jobs for the people of Canada. The Canadian government highly favours these immigrant entrepreneurs because they contribute to the country’s economy.

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Start-Up Visa Canada: Immigration Pathway for Entrepreneurs

Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) intends to welcome 1,000 new permanent residents in each of the years 2022-2024 under the Federal Business Program, which includes the Canadian Start-Up Visa Program and the Self-Employed Program.

To provide more bright entrepreneurs in Canada, venture capitalists, business incubators, and angel investor groups started depending on the Start-Up Visa Program. In the last three years, more than 1,600 applications from foreign entrepreneurs have been processed through the program.

The ATIP obtained from IRCC on statistics for Startup visas shows that applications for the visa are increasing and are attracting diversified entrepreneurs from a wide range of countries including India, China, Iran, and Vietnam.

With an overall success rate of 75%, start-up Visas have an excellent success rate with support from Business Incubators, Angel Investor Networks, and Venture Capital funds.

How much time does it take to get permanent residency under the Canadian Start-up Visa Program?

You have to wait for 12 to 16 months for your permanent residency under the Start-Up Visa Program to be processed. Always make sure that your application is complete before submitting it to ensure that it will be processed and will not be returned to you. Note: When IRCC reaches the yearly limit for applications, expect to wait longer for your application to be processed.

Can I work while I wait for the Permanent Residency?

Yes, you can! You can apply for temporary work permits like the LMIA-Exempt Work Permit, which will allow you to go to Canada for a year and start working while your permanent residency application is being processed. Also, a temporary work permit allows you to go to Canada and start a business or subsidiary while you are waiting for your permanent residency.

How do I start a qualifying business for immigration under the Start-Up Visa Program?

You need to meet the following conditions in order to create a qualifying business in Canada:

1. When you receive a commitment from a designated organization:

  • At least 10% or more of the voting rights must be attached to all shares of the corporation outstanding at that time and held by each applicant (up to five individuals may apply as owners), and

  • There must be a total of more than 50% of the voting rights attached to all outstanding shares of the corporation held jointly by the applicants and the designated organization at that time.

2. Upon receiving your permanent residence:

  • The business must be managed by you from within Canada, where you provide active and ongoing management.

  • The business must operate in Canada as an essential part of its operations.

  • The business must be incorporated in Canada.

I already have a business. Can I just open a branch or subsidiary in Canada?

Yes, you can! According to IRCC, an approved organization (a business group that can invest in or support possible start-ups) must write a letter of support for your start-up. To get started, you'll need to:

  1. Get in touch with the designated organization to learn how to receive its help.

  2. Persuade the organization that your business idea is worth supporting.

  3. Get the organization's support letter.

Note: Before you apply for a Canadian start-up visa, you must be supported by a Canadian angel investor group, business incubator, or venture capital fund. Chitra & Associates works with approved organizations and can help you with this process.

Do I need to meet language requirements under the Start-Up Visa Program?

Definitely, yes! As per IRCC, having the ability to communicate and work in English, French, or both languages is crucial for business success in Canada. It is mandatory that you take a language test from an authorized agency and provide the results with your application, or it will not be processed. To qualify, you must meet the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 5 requirements in English or French in all four areas:

  1. Speaking

  2. Reading

  3. Listening

  4. Writing

Note: Your application will be rejected if your language skills do not meet the minimum requirements. Click here to book an English language test (select "General, 4 skills").

How much is the minimum settlement fund for the Start-Up Visa Program?

As part of your application, you will need to demonstrate that you will be able to support yourself and your dependents after arriving in Canada. With that, you need to make sure you have enough money based on the size of your family. These amounts are updated annually.

For example, currently, for a family of 4, immigrants need to show CAD $24,733 to satisfy the settlement funds requirement.

More details about the proof of funds requirement can be found on the IRCC website.

How can Chitra & Associates help with applying for a Start-Up Visa?

Take a Business Immigration Eligibility Assessment. Chitra & Associates will be very happy to review your profile if you are eligible for business immigration programs in Canada. Our Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants (RCICs) are experienced in helping entrepreneurs open a branch or subsidiary in Canada or start a new business. They facilitate the end-to-end process, starting with an initial assessment of your profile to determine if you qualify for one of the business immigration programs.

A Cautionary Note: The foregoing provides only an overview and does not constitute legal advice. Readers are cautioned against making any decisions based on this material alone. Rather, specific legal advice should be obtained, and the readers are asked to refer to the government website for the most updated information.

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