he Business Start-Up Visa Program grants permanent residence to immigrant entrepreneurs in Canada while helping them to settle there.
Successful applicants, in conjunction with private sector organizations in Canada, can receive funding, expert advice in setting up and operating a business in Canada. The goal of this program is to recruit innovative foreign entrepreneurs who will create new jobs in Canada and stimulate economic growth.
In order to be eligible, applicants for the start-up visa must meet the following criteria:
- Receiving a letter of support from a government-designated organization;
- Demonstrate a sufficient level in French or English (Canadian language proficiency level 5 in each category);
- Have sufficient funds to settle in Canada;
- Have an intention to move to a province other than the province of Quebec; and
- Successfully pass the medical and safety examinations provided by the Government of Canada.
Please note that a maximum of 5 people can base their visa application on a single business project.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) has designated a number of venture capital funds and angel groups to participate in the Business Start-Up Visa Program.
Applicants whose application is accepted must ensure that they receive a minimum investment in their new business in Canada. In the event that the investment originates from a venture capital fund, it must then amount to at least CAN $ 200,000. If it comes from a group of angel investors, it must be at least $ 75,000 CDN. Applicants are not required to make the investment themselves and will retain their permanent residence even if their business plan fails.
In order to prove that the candidate has obtained the support of a venture capital fund or a group of angel investors, the investment group must send directly to CIC a completed Certificate of Commitment. This document contains information concerning the agreement between the applicant and the investment group in question. It summarizes the important details of the engagement between the investment group and the candidate.
In addition, the candidate receives a letter of support from the investment group to be submitted in support of his application for permanent residence. If the same business plan involves two or more candidates, the engagement of the investment group may be conditional upon one or more “essential persons” obtaining permanent residence. An essential person is someone who has been specifically identified as critical to the success of the business venture by the investment group. If for any reason whatsoever, the application of an essential person is rejected, the applications of all other persons included in the same Certificate of Commitment will also be refused.
Peer Review Process
In order to protect this pilot program against fraud, a peer review process was put in place. Its purpose is to ensure that agreements between investment groups and foreign entrepreneurs are legitimate. An immigration officer may request that an undertaking is independently reviewed by a committee. These committees were established by an industry association representing the type of investment group that made the commitment. For example, in the case of an angel investor, the National Angel Capital Organization would be required to appoint a committee to review the agreement.
In addition, the investment group is a venture capital fund, and the Canadian Venture Capital and Provident Equity Association would have jurisdiction. A review can then be requested, at the initiative of an immigration officer if he has doubts but can also be asked randomly. The immigration officer is not required to assess the committee. Its sole function is to confirm that the investment group has carried out the necessary verifications and investigations in accordance with industry standards. It is not intended to rule on the wisdom or feasibility of the offer in question.
Since this is a pilot program, a maximum of 2,750 applications will be processed per year. In addition, the program is limited to 5 years. If the results are positive, the Canadian government could decide, even before the end of the 5 years, to make it a permanent program.