Immigration Lawyers Toolbox® Magazine, Issue 01 (Winter 2021)

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ILT MAGAZINE

How Your Client’s New Business Idea Can Help Them Immigrate To Canada: The Federal Start-Up Visa Program By Stephen W. Green

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ILT MAGAZINE l ISSUE NO.

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Stephen W. Green, Esq. stepheng@gands.com

2013, the Canadian federal government launched a pilot program known as the “Start-Up Visa Program” to attract innovative and skilled entrepreneurs seeking new opportunities to Canada. The program became permanent in April of 2018 and offers permanent residence to foreign entrepreneurs whose new business project is endorsed by a designated Canadian business incubator, angel investor group or venture capital fund, and who are sufficiently competent in English and/or French and have enough funds to settle in Canada. An entrepreneurial team of up to five people can apply together for the Start-Up Visa. The program does not apply to those who intend to live in Quebec, which has a separate business immigration program. To qualify for the federal Start-up Visa, applicants must:

1. Have the support of a designated organization, that is, a business group approved by the government to invest in or support startups: these groups can be angel investors, venture capital funds, or business incubators. There are currently more than 60 approved organizations. Angel investors and venture capital funds are required to invest at least $75,000 and $200,000, respectively, into the business, and business incubators must accept the applicant into its business incubator program.

Each designated organization follows its own process in deciding whether to invest in or support the start-up business. In this way, the government has left it to the private sector to assess the viability of foreign entrepreneurs’ start-ups. 2. Have a qualifying business: the start-up business should be incorporated and carrying on business in Canada. At the time the start-up obtains the commitment of a designated organization, each applicant must hold at least 10% of its voting shares and the applicants and the designated organization must together hold more than 50% of the total voting shares. By the time the applicants obtain permanent residence, each applicant must be “essential” to the business and providing active and ongoing management from within Canada. The designated organization decides who is essential to the business and who is not.


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