Canada is without a doubt on a steady path to become an innovation powerhouse. Based on growth, performance, funding, and exit values, Canada is ranked among the best startup ecosystem in the world. In fact, outside of Silicon Valley, Waterloo has the highest startup density of any area in the world. And with a combination of economic freedom, low startup costs, government funding, accessible business tools, and plenty of talent, Canada is one of the best places to launch and/or grow your venture.
The Start-up Visa (SUV) program is an integral part of the overarching policy of bolstering innovation economy in Canada. This program attracts foreign entrepreneurs who can contribute to the new and innovative needs of the Canadian economy, and facilitates their entry and permanent settlement in Canada.
In contrast to the Entrepreneur (EN) Program which the SUV replaced in 2014, the decision on applicant’s qualification in the SUV program is delegated to Designated Organizations rather than immigration officers. If a Designated Organization approves the applicant for the program, it will issue a Letter of Support that will then enable the applicant to apply for and receive Permeant Residency. Each Designated Organization has its own criteria for endorsing innovative ventures.
In short, SUV will enable up to 5 entrepreneurs and their families to become Canadian Permanent Residents with a single innovative and qualified venture. Among other requirements, applicants need to show Language proficiency of CLB 5.
|Legal Ground||Section 98.01 of Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations;|
|Net Worth||No minimum net worth required;|
|Investment||No minimum investment required;|
|Experience||From none to +10 years depending on Designated Organizations;|
|Education||From none to post-secondary depending on Designated Organizations;|
|Business Proposal||Required (for Designated Organizations);|
|Ownership in Proposed Business|
Each applicant must hold 10% or more of the voting shares of the venture company AND applicants and the Designated Organization shall jointly hold more than 50% of the total voting shares;
|Job Creation||Not required;|
|Location||Anywhere in Canada except Quebec;|
|Scope of Business||Depends on Designated Organizations (IT, ICT, IOT, AI, Fintech, Cleantech, Energy, Manufacturing, Medical and treatment, etc.);|
|Exploratory Visit||Not required;|
|Interview||Depends on Designated Organizations (some conduct 3 rounds of interviews)|
|Path to PR||Direct|
|Processing Time||12-16 months (from receipt of PR application by IRCC)|
– Requires proof of settlement fund for PR application that will range from $13,000 to $30,000 depending on applicant’s family size;
– Possibility of obtaining a specific work-permit while waiting for PR decision only for Essential Persons;
– Allows up to 5 individuals and their dependent family members to obtain PR with a single business venture;
They are business groups that are approved by Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to invest or support foreign start-ups. Their support is the most important condition of eligibility for permanent residency under the SUV program.
There are three categories of Designated Organizations:
Every start-up is different and the decision to seek support from a Designated Organization (i.e. Angel, VC or Incubator) requires a multi factored evaluation that identifies, amongst other things: the stage of the start-up company (i.e. formation, validation, or growth), its needs and peculiarities, its growth potential, its field, and its compatibility with the target organization’s portfolio.
If this happens before you submit your application to IRCC then your application will be refused if submitted. However, if De-designation happens after you have submitted your application to IRCC, there is a small chance that your application will be approved. It is therefore very important that you conduct your own due diligence about the Designated Organizations that you want to target for support to make sure that their practices are in line with IRCC requirements and regulations and more importantly to avoid a refusal on your application.
From IRCC’s perspective there is no such requirement. However, some Designated Organizations require that your venture be legally organized and/or incorporated before they support it.
Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR) requires the Canadian corporation be structured such that:
It really depends on the idea. Albeit most of Designated Organizations only support ventures that have passed the ideation phase, there are a few that support ventures still in early stages. If your idea meets the intake criteria of those Designated Organizations then you can get a Letter of Support, and can apply for PR under the Start-Up Visa Program.
An “essential person” is a person among the start-up group who is considered to be essential to the business and who has been identified as such by the Designated Organization providing the letter of support. All group members can be designated as Essential.
Essential Persons are designated as such when there are urgent business reasons for their early entry into Canada (i.e. to start working on the start-up venture). Therefore, these persons are eligible for a work-permit specific to their role at the start-up company and come to Canada before a decision on their PR application is rendered.
If an applicant who is deemed an “essential” person withdraws their application or their application is refused, all applications linked to the same start-up business will be refused.
To the very least the Essential Persons of the business shall come to Canada after getting their letter of support. Regardless of the agreed upon terms between your venture and the supporting organization, your group’s delay in coming to Canada and starting the work can lead to negative inferences drawn about your intentions. This can jeopardize your PR application. Nevertheless, questions of intention and eligibility are complicated and must be assessed on a case by case basis.
From a business perspective your responsibilities are to work towards the success of your start-up venture. From an immigration perspective you will need to abide by the terms of your letter of support. Otherwise the designated organization may withdraw its support and report you to IRCC. This will result in the refusal of your PR application.
No. If you do not abide by the terms of your letter of support, the Designated Organization will have to report you to IRCC and your application will be refused. Also, if your supporting Designated Organization is de-designated your PR application will most likely be refused. IRCC also has certain powers and discretions to assess your intention while you are supported by a Designated Organization.
No. SUV program is designed in light of the realities of the start-up world where the rate of failure is incredibly high. Therefore, the success of your venture is not a factor for your PR eligibility.
If that person was an Essential Person, then every one’s applications will be refused. But if that person was not an Essential Person, other applications can survive and be approved.