Canada is actively seeking promising entrepreneurs to help grow the economy through the Start-up Visa program. If approved, you’d be able to move to Canada as a permanent resident through the Start-Up Business Class immigration stream.

The goal of this program is to introduce innovative companies to the Canadian economy that can compete on a global scale and to create new jobs in Canada. If you have a great business plan and can manage to get funding from a designated investor in Canada, then you’d be eligible to immigrate to Canada. Unlike most other immigration programs, this one does not necessarily favor younger applicants.

Requirements

  • Guaranteed minimal investment from a designated organization
  • Own at least 10% of your business
  • Verified voting rights that, along with any other applicant and designated organization, is equal to or greater than 50%
  • Have completed at least a year of post-secondary education
  • Able to communicate in English or French
  • Do not intend to live in the province of Quebec
  • Have the minimal amount of savings to support yourself (about $12,000 and additional $2,000 per family member that would immigrate with you)
  • Application and documents

Investment

While you can obtain investments from just about anyone, you’ll need to secure minimal support from at least one of the three types of designated organizations:

  1. Venture capital fund – $200,000 minimal investment
  2. Angel investor group – $75,000 minimal investment
  3. Business incubator program – no investment required

Within each of these categories, there are a limited number of organizations that qualify within each option. Check the list of designated organizations provided by the CIC in order to find the most up to date list.

Each organization has their own set of criteria in place to evaluate the potential of your business plan. You’d be responsible for establishing contact and pitching your idea in an effort to obtain their support. If one of the organizations decides that they would like to invest in your business, you’d also be responsible for getting a Letter of Support to submit as part of your immigration application. The organization will also need to submit a Commitment Certificate directly to the CIC to verify their support. This certificate would outline the agreement between you and the organization in regards to the business venture.

If the only way you can reach the minimum investment amount is through support from multiple organizations, you’ll be considered to be in syndication. In that case, you’ll need to provide letters of support from each organization. If any one of the organizations is a venture capital firm, then you will need to meet the minimum investment amount of $200,000, even if all of the other groups pledging support are angel investors.

All commitments are subject to a peer review process.

Ownership

You don’t have the be the sole proprietor of your business in order to be eligible for the visa. You, along with 4 other owners, can apply for the visas as owners of the same business. Once your investment is secured, each owner would submit their own application for the start-up visa. Each owner muse retain at least 10% of the voting rights for the business in order to qualify for the start-up visa. Additionally, all owners, together with all investors, must hold more than 50% of all voting rights for the business.

If your business is owned by more than just yourself, the investor commitment can be conditional. That would mean that their promise of investment would only be guaranteed if whichever person (or people) was identified as “essential.” In that situation, the investment would only be given if the essential applicant was approved for immigration. If that person was rejected for the visa, then all other owners would also be rejected.

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