The Start-Up Visa Pilot Program launched on April 1, 2013. This program seeks to recruit innovative immigrant entrepreneurs who will create new jobs and spur economic growth in Canada.  We now have some further specifics on how applicants will be assessed under this program.

Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible for this program, applicants must have all of the following four things.

1.  A Commitment Certificate from an approved funding agency

Applicants must obtain a commitment from either:

  • One or more designated angel investor groups (click for list) to invest at least $75,000CAD in a qualifying business; or
  • One or more designated venture capital funds (click for list) to invest at least $200,000CAD in a qualifying business.

A commitment means an agreement between the applicant and one of the approved investing entities to establish and incorporate a qualifying business in Canada, which must be submitted by approved investing entities directly to CIC, in the form of Commitment Certificate.

A qualifying business is one in which the applicant holds at least 10% of the voting rights attached to all outstanding shares of the corporation, and no person or entity, other than qualified participants, hold 50% or more of the voting rights attached to all outstanding shares of the corporation.

Qualified participants include: (a) the applicant; (b) a foreign national who has been issued a permanent resident visa as a member of the Start-Up Business Class with respect to your business; (c) an approved angel investor group or venture capital fund.

2.    Language proficiency

The applicant must be proficient in either English or French, and be able to demonstrate a minimum of Benchmark Level 5 for each of the four language skill areas (reading, writing, listening, speaking) through an approved language testing system.  Approved language testing systems include: (a) Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP) – General testing only; (b) International English Language Testing System (IELTS) – General testing only; or (c) Test d’évaluation du français (TEF).

3.    Educational credentials

Applicant must have completed at least one year of post-secondary education, and must be in good standing at the educational institution, even if he or she did not complete the entire program.

4.    Funds to support themselves in Canada

Applicants must demonstrate their ability to support themselves and their family in Canada.  They must have transferable and available funds, without any debts or obligations, equal to one half of the amount identified as the minimum before-tax annual income (LICO) necessary to support the applicant and his or her family members.  Currently, applicants must possess funds equal to or greater than the amount listed below for each family size:

Number of Family Members Funds Required
1 (applicant alone) $11,115CAD
2 (applicant + 1) $13,837CAD
3 (applicant + 2) $17,011CAD
4 (applicant + 3) $20,654CAD
5 (applicant + 4) $23,425CAD
6 (applicant + 5) $26,419CAD
7 or more $29,414CAD

 Some of the Fine Print  

  • For a single business venture, there is a limit of five foreign nationals who may seek permanent residence as members of this Class.  All must be identified as essential members for the qualifying business.  The business must be bona fide, not for the purpose of acquiring your immigration status.
  • Immigration officers may request an independent assessment of the applicants’ commitment certificate submitted by the approved investing entity.  This assessment is conducted by a peer review panel established by an industry association representing the type of entity making the commitment.
  • Immigration officers may substitute their own evaluation, if they believe that your submissions regarding the eligibility criteria are not a sufficient indicator of whether you will become successfully established in Canada.  Such an evaluation must be supported by a second immigration officer for confirmation.  If an applicant does not quite meet all the eligibility criteria, but can sufficiently prove an ability to successfully establish himself or herself economically in Canada, immigration officers may grant the visa by substituting their own evaluation instead of the full eligibility criteria.
  • This is a pilot program that will run for the next five years (from April 1, 2013 until March 31, 2018).  There is a maximum of 2,750 visas granted per each year.

Learn More  

If you are interested in learning more about this program, please contact our office to set up a consultation.

If you have any individual questions or concerns, please contact our office for more customized consultation for your unique situation.  Please note that this posting is for general information only and is not to be considered binding or official legal counsel since situations will vary and can be complicated. The content in this post is current as of the day of entry. Due to the changing nature of Immigration law, the information in this entry may or may not still be applicable.