Due to the extreme backlog, Citizenship and Immigration Canada has temporarily stopped accepting applications under the investor and entrepreneur categories. In an effort not to lose out on foreign investment, Minister Kenney has recently introduced the “Start-Up Visa.”
This visa is geared towards foreign entrepreneurs who wish to have their business idea funded and immigrate to Canada permanently. The Start-Up Visa, the first of its kind in the world, will connect entrepreneurs to experience private sector organizations in Canada.
I have a business idea; how do I apply for the Start-Up Visa?
Having an idea or plan is unfortunately not enough, but certainly a step in the right direction. Before you can apply for the Start-Up Visa, you must have proof of financial backing in the form of an investment from a designated organization. From there, other basic criteria must be met.
Who can I get to invest in my business idea?
Citizenship and Immigration Canada has designated angel investor groups or venture capital funds that can invest in your business plan. You must obtain a letter of support from them after convincing them that your business plan model is worth investing in. Each organization is different and has different requirements. You should research each before making a proposition.
How much money do I need from an investor for my business idea? Is there a difference between angel investor groups and venture capital funds?
If your investment comes from a venture capital fund, you must secure a minimum of $200 000 CAD. If your investment comes from an angel investor group, you must secure a minimum of $75 000 CAD. The reason for the difference is because of the type of investment and the nature of your business. Angel investment groups typically assist at the inception of a business and are often groups that are using their own money. On the other hand, venture capital groups have pooled financial resources allocated for investment and usually assist a business that has been in operation.
Are there any other requirements for the Start-Up Visa besides investment?
There are language and educational requirements along with the required letter of support from a group willing to invest in your business. You will need to meet a minimum language score and have attended at least one year, in good standing, at a post-secondary institution. Documentation will be required to demonstrate this. There is also a financial responsibility as well. Depending on whether or not you are travelling alone or with a family and the size of your family, funds available to support your stay in Canada must also be demonstrated.
How can I qualify to get a start-up visa?
Your application to come to Canada through the Start-Up Visa Program will be assessed on a pass/fail basis on four requirements. You must have:
- A commitment of support from a designated Canadian venture capital fund or angel investor group;
- An ability to communicate in either French or English;
- Completion of one year of study at a post-secondary institution; and
- An adequate amount of money in order to settle and provide for the cost of living prior to earning an income.
If those requirements are met, your application would then be reviewed on Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s standard admissibility criteria; including health, criminality and security.
What do I need to do to get support from an investor organization?
You will need to contact an angel investor group or venture capital fund that the Minister has designated as eligible to participate in the Start-Up Visa Program.
You will need to convince them that you have a business idea that is worth investing in.
If you reach an agreement, they will send you a letter of support. This is proof required by Citizenship and Immigration Canada to show that the angel investor group or venture capital fund will support your business idea.
What level of language proficiency do I need to apply for the start-up visa?
To apply for a start-up visa, you must be able to show that you have reached Canadian Language Benchmark 5 in listening, reading, writing and speaking. With your application, you must submit the results of a third-party language test that shows that you meet the requirement.
Do I need to have completed my studies at a post-secondary institution to apply for a start-up visa?
No, you do not need to have completed a program at a post-secondary institution to apply. To meet the education requirements, you need to demonstrate only that you were a student in good standing for at least one year at a post-secondary institution.
Can an entrepreneurial team immigrate to Canada together?
Citizenship and Immigration Canada understands that an entrepreneurial team often develops business ventures. Therefore, a commitment certificate and letter of support may identify up to five persons.
Will I have to invest my own money if I want to apply for a start-up visa?
No, you are not required to invest any of your own money. The minimum investment required is an investment that comes from a Canadian venture capital fund or angel investor group that has been named as a participant in the program. You will only need to obtain this investment to qualify.
Canada Wants You
Canada seeks innovative entrepreneurs who have the potential to build dynamic companies that can compete in the global market. The Start-Up Visa Program will link immigrant entrepreneurs with experienced private sector organizations that have expertise in working with start-ups.
The pilot will run for up to five years. Citizenship and Immigration Canada expects that due to the focus of the Program, initially, the number of applications will be limited. However, the focus of the Start-Up Visa will be on the quality of the applicants and on establishing a track record of success. If the Program proves successful during the five-year trial period, CIC may formally introduce it as a new Economic Class in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations.