Immigrating to Canada as an Entrepreneur: Start-up Visa Program
Canada attracts entrepreneurs. The Start-up Visa (SUV) program allows innovative entrepreneurs to immigrate to Canada. The SUV program offers global entrepreneurs the chance to turn their ideas into reality, get financial support from private investors, access a highly skilled workforce, and live comfortably in Canada.
Start-up Visa Program
The Start-up Visa Program in Canada encourages talented and ambitious entrepreneurs to start their businesses, create jobs, and boost the economy. Foreign entrepreneurs or start-up founders who want to set up shop in Canada can speed up the process. Successful applicants receive permanent residence (PR) and funding, guidance, and expertise in starting and running a Canadian business.
Eligibility for the Start-up Visa Program
Your business must be innovative, and scalable, and employ Canadians to qualify for the SUV program. A letter of support from a designated organization is required for a qualifying business. Finally, to get PR under the Start-up Visa program, you must start a business in Canada. To start your business in Canada, you can get a temporary work permit.
While you’re still planning your business, you may want to look into other housing options.
1. Become a qualifying business
Your SUV program application must meet all of the following criteria:
- Have an organization’s commitment. The applicant and designated entity commit to incorporating your qualifying business in Canada. (See section on getting a letter of support from a designated organization)
- Each SUV program applicant holds 10% or more of the voting rights attached to all corporation shares (up to five people can apply as owners).
- All applicants and the designated organization (or organizations, as there can be more than one) hold more than 50% of the voting rights attached to all outstanding corporation shares.
Note that if your application is accepted, you must do the following when you get your permanent residence.
- If incorporation is contingent on PR, ensure the business is incorporated in Canada.
- Ensure a key business operation is in Canada.
- Provide active and ongoing management of the business within Canada.
2. Obtain a letter of support from a designated organization
Your business venture or idea must be supported by one or more SUV-approved organizations to apply for the Start-up Visa program. “Commitment” describes this support.
Venture capital funds, angel investor groups, and business incubators are private-sector businesses. Each category supports the business venture differently to apply to the SUV program.
Venture capital funds must invest at least $200,000 in your venture. Multi-investor total.
Angel investor groups must invest at least $75,000 in your venture.
Business incubators – You must be accepted into a business incubator program but don’t need external funding.
A designated organization supports your business by providing a letter of support for your SUV application. Each letter of support lasts six months. Your Start-up Business Class permanent residence application must be submitted within six months of the letter of support.
3. Language requirements
The SUV program requires English or French proficiency. You must pass the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) level 5 in speaking, reading, listening, and writing on an approved language test, not the academic level test. Organize and pay for the test. Language test results are valid for two years.
4. Proof of settlement funds
Start-up Visa immigrants receive no financial assistance from Canada.
You must prove you can support yourself and your dependents in Canada when applying. This money cannot be borrowed.
The government updates the amount each year based on family size. It’s a good idea to get a clear idea of what it will cost to live where you plan to settle in Canada, as it will vary by region and city, regardless of IRCC’s minimum. Arrive’s Cost of Living Calculator estimates monthly living costs based on your city, family size, housing type, and transportation.
Applying for permanent residence under the Start-up Visa program
You can apply for permanent residence under the Start-up Visa program online or in person from Canada or abroad. Your letter of support is valid for six months, so you must apply for permanent residence before it expires whether you apply for a temporary work permit or not.
Apply using the IRCC’s document checklist. Gather and check off supporting documents and information in the checklist order. Print and sign the document checklist and attach it to your paper application as the cover page.
Essential documents required to apply for PR under the SUV program:
- Canada Generic Application Form (IMM0008)
- If necessary, declare dependents.
- Background/declaration (IMM 5669) including work experience, education, unemployment, etc.
- Business immigration programs—Startup business class (IMM 0008 – Schedule 13) form
- Family details (IMM 5406)
- Travel passports
- IELTS, CELPIP, or TEF certification
- Your organization’s support letter
- Family IDs
- Police certificates
- Medical exams
- Proof of convertible currency funds in the required amounts based on family size.
- Answer all questions and sign all forms to complete your application.
You must also pay biometrics, processing, and the Right of Permanent Residence Fee (RPRF).
No applications will be processed until all business partners apply for permanent residence. Business partners must submit separate applications in envelopes. Even if your spouse is your business partner, submit separate applications.
After meeting eligibility requirements, completing biometrics, and passing medical and police background checks, your application will be reviewed. If your application is approved, you’ll receive a Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR) and be required to get a passport visa if you’re outside Canada.
If you live in Canada, you must schedule a short immigration interview at an IRCC office or a Canadian port of entry. You must show proof of financial support for yourself, your family, and COPR here. You’ll get your PR card in the mail. If you live outside Canada, your immigration interview will be at the port of entry.
Startup Visa Program Processing Fee
Applying requires a processing fee. The processing fee ($1,625) and right of permanent residence fee ($515) total $2,140. If you’re traveling with family, your partner or spouse’s fee is $1,365 (including the $515 permanent residence fee); a dependent child’s fee is $230 (exempt from the permanent residence fee).
Start-up Visa applications take how long?
SUV applicants can expect a 32-month process. Your application’s completion status, verification ease, and application backlog can affect this.
Canada welcomes entrepreneurs who can create jobs and value for the country. The Start-up Visa program lets entrepreneurs grow their businesses in Canada and settle there. With some research and a letter of support from a designated organization, you can succeed in Canadian entrepreneurship despite the lengthy application process.
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