Start Up Visa Program (SUV) Canada

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Canada offers a unique immigration program known as the Start-Up Visa Program for foreign entrepreneurs who plan to set up a new startup business in the country. This program was initially launched as a temporary immigration pathway in 2018.

However, Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) later made it a permanent program due to its success. This guide will examine the eligibility requirements and the application process for the Canada Startup Visa program.

About Canada's Start-up Visa

The Startup Visa Program is a unique immigration pathway that caters to The Government of Canada encourages such startups because they contribute to Canada’s economic growth and help create jobs for Canadian residents.

Prospective Startup Visa applicants who are successful under this program can receive permanent resident status and continue operating their startup as intended. This program could be a great choice for people who do not qualify for the Federal Skilled Worker program or the different business immigration options under the Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP).

Eligibility Requirements

Prospective foreign entrepreneurs who wish to apply for the Start-Up Visa Canada program must meet the eligibility requirements in the following areas:

  • Have a Qualifying Business
  • Possess a Valid Letter of Support from an Organization
  • Meet the Minimum Language Requirements
  • Offer Proof of Funds

Have a Qualifying Business

The Startup Visa Canada applicant must set up and operate a qualifying business to fulfill the program’s requirements. In addition to this, the entrepreneur must hold a minimum of 10% of the voting rights associated with the business’s shares. If multiple applicants intend to apply for a startup visa using a shared startup, they must possess a minimum of 50% of the voting rights combined.

Other qualifying business requirements include:

  • The applicant must be involved in the active management of the business from within Canada.
  • The business’s core components and operations must be performed within Canada.
  • The business must be incorporated within Canada.

Possess a Valid Letter of Support from an Organization

Qualifying applicants are required to hold a letter of support from a valid designated organization. There are three types of designated organizations with different minimum investment requirements that qualify under this program. These are:

Venture Capital funds

The minimum investment requirement for Venture Capital Funds is $200,000 CAD. Some Venture Capital Funds recognized as designated organizations include:

  • 7 Gate Ventures
  • BCF Ventures
  • Celtic House Venture Partners
  • First Fund
  • iNovia Capital Inc.
  • Lumira Ventures
  • PRIVEQ Capital Funds
  • Red Leaf Capital Corp
  • ScaleUp Venture Partners, Inc.
  • Vanedge Capital Limited Partnership
  • WhiteHaven
  • Yaletown Venture Partners Inc.

Angel Investor Groups

The minimum investment requirement for Angel Investor Groups is $75,000 CAD. Some Angel Investor Groups recognized as designated organizations include:

  • Canadian International Angel Investors
  • TenX Angel Investors Inc.
  • Golden Triangle Angel Network
  • Ekagrata Inc.
  • Southeastern Ontario Angel Network
  • York Angel Investors Inc.
  • Oak Mason Investments Inc.
  • VANTEC Angel Network Inc.
  • Keiretsu Forum Canada

Business Incubators

There is no minimum investment requirement for Business Incubators. Some Business Incubators recognized as designated organizations include:

  • Alacrity Foundation
  • Brilliant Catalyst
  • DMZ Ventures
  • Extreme Innovations
  • Highline BETA Inc.
  • Innovation Cluster – Peterborough and the Kawarthas
  • Interactive Niagara Media Cluster o/a Innovate Niagara
  • Knowledge Park o/a Planet Hatch
  • Launch Academy – Vancouver
  • Millworks Centre for Entrepreneurship
  • North Forge East Ltd.
  • Pacific Technology Ventures
  • Pycap Inc (o/a Pycap Venture Partners)
  • Spark Commercialization and Innovation Centre
  • The DMZ at Ryerson University
  • TSRV Canada Inc. (operating as Techstars Canada)
  • VIATEC
  • York Entrepreneurship Development Institute

Each of the designated organizations mentioned above has its own intake process. Prospective startup entrepreneurs should design and tailor their business proposal with each organization in mind. Some organizations may ask for more comprehensive proposals than others, so candidates should prepare accordingly.

If a designated organization chooses to support an entrepreneur’s business idea, they will issue them a letter of support.

Meet the Minimum Language Requirements

Start-Up Visa Canada applicants must also be proficient in English or French to qualify for this program. The Canadian Government has added this requirement to ensure candidates possess the language skills required to operate and grow their startup in the country without experiencing language barrier issues.

Applicants can demonstrate their language fluency by taking an approved language exam. Such language tests typically assess examinees in the following areas:

  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Speaking
  • Listening

Prospective candidates should ensure they achieve a Canadian Language Benchmark score of CLB 5 or higher to qualify for the Startup Visa program. Applicants who receive a lower score should postpone their application and work on improving their language proficiency before retaking their test until they meet the minimum CLB 5 requirement.

Offer Proof of Funds

Applicants must show they possess enough funds to settle down and support their new life in Canada. These funds will contribute to their living expenses and the living expenses of the dependents accompanying them to Canada. Therefore, candidates with more dependents will need to possess greater funds.

The fund amounts for different family sizes are summarized below:

Total Number Family Members Coming to Canada (Includes applicant)Funds Needed (CAD)
1$13,213
2$16,449
3$20,222
4$24,553
5$27,847
6$31,407
7$34,967
Each additional member$3,560

Step-by-Step Process

The Start-Up Visa program’s application process is summarized in the following steps:

Stage 1

  • Obtain a Letter of Support
  • Complete the Application and Gather Documents
  • Pay the Application Fees
  • Submit the Application

Stage 2

  • Submit Biometrics
  • Complete a Medical Exam
  • Application Decision

Stage One

1. Obtain a Letter of Support

Foreign entrepreneurs must first propose their business idea to different designated organizations. If they are successful, they will be issued a letter of support. The organization will also send Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) a commitment certificate separately.

2. Complete the Application and Gather Documents

Start-Up applicants must then obtain the application package for the program. They can then fill out the immigration application form IMM 0008 on their computer and select the “Validate” button once it is complete. They must then print, sign, and date the form.

Applicants should then gather all the documents specified in the Document Checklist included in the application package.

3. Pay the Application Fees

Next, applicants must pay their fees online. This includes:

  • Processing fees
  • Right of Permanent Residence Fee (RPRF)
  • Biometrics fees
  • Third-party fees

4. Submit the Application

Applicants must then mail their completed application and documents to the mailing address included in their application package instruction guide.

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Stage Two

5. Submit Biometrics

IRCC will then issue candidates a letter asking them to submit biometrics such as fingerprints and photos. Candidates must get their fingerprints and photos taken within thirty days of receiving this letter. The letter will also specify the location for obtaining or submitting biometrics.

6. Complete a Medical Exam

IRCC will ask candidates to complete a medical exam after forwarding their application to the relevant visa office. All applicants must pass this exam if they wish to immigrate to Canada through the Start-up Visa program.

7. Application Decision

Successful applicants who meet IRCC’s requirements, demonstrate they possess enough funds to settle in Canada, and pass their police clearance and medical exams will be issued a permanent resident visa.

This includes the entry visa that allows the candidate to enter Canada and the Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR) document that verifies their permanent resident status.

Processing Times

Application processing times for the Canada Start-up Visa vary between 12 to 16 months. Applicants should note the entire process can take much longer as it often takes several months to obtain a letter of support and a commitment certificate from a designated organization. For this reason, prospective Start-Up entrepreneurs should start the application process as quickly as possible.

Applying for Work Permits

Applicants who are already in Canada and are waiting for IRCC to make a decision on their application are allowed to work if they possess a valid work permit. This work permit is essential if they intend to set up and start operating their startup business as soon as possible.

IRCC offers work permits for applicants if they have obtained a commitment certificate from a designated organization. Applicants who intend to reside in a province or territory outside Quebec must pay an employer compliance fee in addition to this.

How ELAAR can help you?

Prospective entrepreneurs and Start-Up founders who wish to immigrate to Canada through the Start-Up Visa program should contact us. Our exceptional team of Regulated Immigration Consultants understands the requirements and application process for this program. They can also help you design a business proposal to improve your chances of securing a letter of support from a designated organization.

Allow us to optimize your application and boost your chances of immigrating to Canada. Take the next step in your business immigration journey to Canada with Elaar Immigration’s guidance.

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Immigrate to Canada by starting a business and creating jobs through Canada’s Start-Up Visa (SUV).

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