The Canadian Start-Up Visa Program is a pilot program aimed at encouraging entrepreneurs from overseas to set up their new venture in Canada. It will take up to 2,750 applicants a year and successful candidates will link with the private sector in Canada where they can access financial help and expertise in starting a business in the country.

Eligibility and Investment Requirements

The purpose of the scheme is to build the economy of Canada by making it worthwhile for foreigners to begin start-ups in Canada. There are some eligibility requirements which include the following:
– Candidates must be proficient in English or French to a required standard
– Must prove they have the funds to settle in Canada
– The scheme applies to all of Canada apart from the Province of Quebec
– The candidate must meet Canadian security and medical requirements
– The business must be supported through a designated organization and legal ownership requirements must be proven.
As the running of a business will necessarily mean the applicant taking up permanent residence in Canada, the government has restricted the number of residence applicants to five per start-up.
A select group of investment companies, angel investors, and business incubation organizations has been designated by the Immigration, Refugees, and Citizens Canada (IRCC) to help businesses that take advantage of the scheme. There is a requirement for the start-up to secure a minimum investment from one of these sources to the tune of $75000 from an angel investor, to $200,000 from a venture capital lender. The applicant is not required to invest their own capital and, should the business fail, they will retain their permanent residence status.

Evidence of Commitment

The IRCC requires proof that the applicant is committed in the form of a letter of a Commitment Certificate, which details the agreement between the business owner and the investment organization. They will also require a letter of support from the investment organization to the applicant. There are conditions attached to these as they are taken as forms of legal proof. Usually, the acceptance of investment support is dependent upon the applicant – or if more than one, in the plural – being granted permanent residence. If such is refused the business agreement may be declared null and void. Note that applicants can receive support from more than one investment organization.

Peer Review

Applications to the Start-Up Visa Program may be subject to examination by a peer review board, as requested by an immigration officer. This is a protection against potential fraud. Put simply, the board is looking for evidence that due diligence has been performed in areas relating to the business such as incorporation in Canada, legal ownership verification, and that the designated lending organization has performed its own due diligence for granting the lending process. These are just a few areas the board may investigate.

At the time of writing the Start-Up Visa Program is set to run for five years as a pilot exercise, with 2,750 maximum recipients per year. Should it prove successful, it may become a permanent scheme.