Overview of Startup Visa Program
On April 1, 2013, the Start-Up Visa Pilot program was established as the first pilot program implemented by Ministerial Instructions. The Start-Up Visa is designed to attract innovative foreign entrepreneurs who would contribute to the new and innovative needs of the Canadian economy and facilitate the entry of innovative entrepreneurs who would actively pursue business ventures in Canada.
Canada’s Start-Up Visa Program (SUV) links immigrant entrepreneurs with experienced private sector organizations with expertise in working with start-ups. So, there must be an immigrant entrepreneur with a potential business in which the business must be innovative. Besides, the entrepreneurs must meet some conditions such as passing standard health and security criteria, communicating in either English or French, completing one year of study at a post-secondary institution, and having enough money to live on while establishing the start-up business in Canada.
If an entrepreneur has skills, ideas, and a business plan but they don’t have the money or they don’t have that actual knowledge about Canadian business, for them the Canadian government assigns some designated organizations of Canada. Those organizations can help those entrepreneurs to come to Canada under the startup visa program. There are three types of organizations:
- Incubators: which attests to the fact that the applicant’s business is currently enrolled in or has been accepted into its business incubator program.
- Angel Investors: it certifies that it will invest at least CAD 75,000 in the applicant’s business.
- Venture Capitals: which certifies an investment of at least CAD 200,000 in the applicant’s company.
Requirements for the Startup Visa Program
The basic requirements for the startup visa program are as follows:
- By receiving a commitment certificate from a recognized organization, the applicant must show that they are creative immigrant entrepreneurs who will promote economic development.
- The applicant must own at least 10% of the voting shares in a company and more than 50% of the voting stock in the company with the specified organization.
- Once established, the applicant must run and manage the business endeavor from inside Canada.
- In speaking, reading, listening, and writing, the candidate must achieve a minimum of level 5 on the Canadian Language Benchmark Test in English or French.
- The applicant must demonstrate that she and any dependents will be able to sustain themselves once they arrive in Canada.
- The applicant and members of his or her family must be in good health and have no criminal records.
Procedure of Applying for the Startup Visa Program
- Appointment of an authorized representative to submit the application
- Proof of language competence and other personal documents are required.
- Obtain a certificate of commitment from an angel investor group, a venture capital fund, or a business incubator.
- Application form, supporting papers, and payments must be submitted.
Letter of Support & Commitment Certificate
A Commitment Certificate is a document which records important information regarding the agreement between the applicant and the designated organization, whereas A Letter of Support is provided to the applicant by the designated entity confirming their agreement.
The standard procedure is that the designated entity sends a commitment certificate directly to the IRCC by email or courier, and sends a letter of support to the applicant, both with the same validity period.
Then the applicant must include the letter of support in their PR application. The commitment certificate and letter of support both have validity dates and the applicant must submit a complete application for permanent residence within 6 months on or before the expiry date of the commitment certificate and letter of support.
It is important to understand that if a commitment certificate or letter of support expires while an application is being processed, no extension is required. Meanwhile the applicant can resubmit the application if it was submitted after the commitment certificate and letter of support have expired. For resubmission there must be a valid letter of support. In any circumstances the designated entity may not issue an extension, but can issue a new commitment certificate after ensuring that the details of the commitment, including ownership structure, are still accurate.
Procedure of receiving a Letter of Support
The steps that must be taken to receive a Letter of Support from the designated organization are as follow:
- The innovative ideas and the business potential in Canada must be assessed by professionals such as patent agent or analyst, business immigration lawyers;
- Must conduct a search on the business model and perform a mock peer review by professionals.
- Must prepare a business plan and incorporate the business in Canada before identifying one or more relevant Designated Organization(s).
- Must submit the application along with the business plan to Designated Organization(s) and communicate with them to receive an Acceptance Letter for the innovative business proposal, and eventually to receive a commitment and a Letter of Support.