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Start-Up Visa: Canada Wants YOU And Your Million-Dollar Idea

The key requirement is a minimum Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) of 5 (IELTS – Reading 4.0, Writing 5.0, Listening 5,0, and Speaking 5.0).

Start-Up Visa: Canada Wants YOU And Your Million-Dollar Idea
POSTED ON February 19, 2024 4:19 PM

Do you have a business idea? An innovative one?  Because an idea can transform your life with the Canadian start-up visa programme.  Canada is happy to welcome you to run your business on its land if your idea is larger than life and can generate employment in the country. This is the perfect pathway for you to obtain a Permanent Residency (PR).   

The idea or concept should be both unique and scalable. For example, consider the situation when plastic was banned in India, and people faced difficulties drinking tea from roadside stalls. At that time, a friend of mine came up with the idea of creating tea mugs using jaggery and wheat. After finishing your tea or coffee, you can eat the mug too. If you’re a heavy tea or coffee drinker and don’t want to consume more than four mugs, you can return them to the tea vendor and receive a discount on your next cup. The shopkeeper will crush those cups and convert them into dog food.   

It is important to note here that investing in real estate or share trading does not qualify as a unique idea, therefore, it will not be considered as a qualifying business to move to Canada. 

Canada’s Start-up Visa Journey 

The Canadian start-up visa programme was introduced as a trial in 2013 and experienced such outstanding success that it was granted permanent status in 2018. It is interesting to note that more than 5,000 people have obtained permanent residency using this option throughout the years. This shows a notable increase in participation. As many as 1,200 applicants achieved their goals in 2023 alone, demonstrating an increasing trend every year.   

Why Go For a Start-up Visa? 

The benefits of opting for the start-up visa programme are aplenty. The start-up visa is your golden ticket to PR if you possess the skills and potential required to innovate and establish a business. This unique PR pathway is tailor-made for entrepreneurs, investors, business professionals, and skilled individuals. 

Entrepreneurs can apply as a group of five, creating an ideal setup for business establishment. The application process is swift, with approval within four to five months.    

What Does It Take To Be Eligible? 

Unlike other immigration pathways, the startup visa category doesn’t require you to show a minimum net worth. However, you must have minimum sufficient funds to support your early stay in Canada. After you land in the country, you are not allowed to borrow this money from anybody. While the total funds you require depend on the actual size of your family, this gets updated every year. 

The key requirement is a minimum Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) of 5 (IELTS – Reading 4.0, Writing 5.0, Listening 5,0, and Speaking 5.0), meaning that language proficiency doesn’t become a hurdle in your journey.  Furthermore, unlike other PR programmes, there are no age or education restrictions.    

To qualify, you just need to present an innovative business idea and secure investment from Canada’s designated bodies. These authorities include Venture Capital funds, Angel Investor groups, and business incubators. They play an important role in supporting and guiding applicants throughout the process. 

After the designated body accepts your idea, you will get a letter of support (LOS) from it. You will include this LOS at the time of presenting your application. LOS confirms that your business idea has support from Canada’s designated bodies.  

The body will also send a commitment certificate to Canadian immigration agencies like IRCC. IRCC will review your application, the letter of support, and the DO’s commitment certificate to review your PR visa application. IRCC could ask you for additional business details to make a final decision on your petition.   

Who Should Apply? 

If you are someone with the capacity to invest and contribute to innovative ideas or concepts, you must apply for this visa. This programme serves as an alternative for those who might not qualify under Express Entry or Provincial Nominee Programmes (PNP).    

The Application Process  

To begin the process, applicants should have qualifying ideas, such as creating edible cups, as discussed above, or along similar lines. The application process involves creating a group of five members, each holding a 10 per cent share in the venture. The designated authorities then conduct a group interaction and interview, followed by the presentation of a detailed business plan. Training is provided to each shareholder, ensuring everyone is well-equipped for their roles. 

Upon successful interaction and training, applicants receive a coveted letter of support from the designated authority. This letter, along with a commitment certificate, forms the basis for applying for permanent residency and a work permit simultaneously.   

Document Requirements 

Although the start-up visa programme has no stringent educational or age requirements, certain documents are essential. These include a police clearance certificate, medical certificate, family information, IELTS, funds, and bank statement.  

When submitting your application, you’ll be required to provide evidence that you possess the necessary funds to support yourself and your dependents. If you enter Canada with funds exceeding CAN$ 10,000, it is important to disclose this information to the relevant officer. Otherwise, it may result in fines and the seizure of the funds.   

The Final Steps 

Once armed with a letter of support, applicants can apply for a work permit and permanent residency simultaneously. The waiting time for permanent residency is approximately 37 months. However, with a work permit, individuals can start working on their startup right away. 

Authored by Rohit Sethi, Director, ESS Global

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