Canada’s Start-Up Visa Program for Entrepreneurs

Canada start-up visa program

Mary Keyork
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On February 28, 2018, Canada announced the details of its federal budget. Included in this year’s budget was nearly $5 million for the Start-Up Visa Program. This post is for everyone interested in hearing more about this program, and how it may be a good option for you to obtain Canadian permanent residence.

A Brief History
Back in 2013, Canada rolled out the Start-Up Visa program as a five-year pilot to see how the program would perform in attracting new immigrants and fostering innovative new start-ups for Canada’s economy. Through the program, the government was hoping to attract foreign entrepreneurs with desirable skills, innovative ideas, global competitive potential and the ability to create new jobs for Canadian citizens and permanent residents.

Although uptake in the program was originally slow, the government tweaked the requirements and decided to make it permanent in the summer of 2017. Now, in early 2018, we are seeing further investment and commitment to this program.

I am an Entrepreneur! Am I Eligible?
You must meet these four main criteria to be considered for the program:

1. Your business is supported by a designated organization
Designated organizations are entities that have been government-approved to invest in and support potential start-ups under the program. They fall under three categories: venture capital funds, angel investor groups and business incubators. You can find them all here and visit their websites to learn more about the requirements for each: Designated Organizations. In order to obtain a Letter of Support, you will need to prepare a detailed business plan and pitch your idea to a designated organization. VCs or angel investors approach investment decisions differently than incubators, and each designated organization has a different process. We are seeing a lot of creativity in this space and encourage potential applicants to do their research and contact several different organizations to find the best fit.

2. You meet the ownership requirements
Under the program, up to five people can apply as owners of one business. In order to qualify, each owner that is applying must have at least 10% voting rights and all applicants must jointly hold more than 50%voting rights, including the designated organization’s voting rights.

3. You can demonstrate language skills in English and/or French
Most applications for Canadian permanent residence require applicants to pass a test proving that they can speak, read, write and listen at a minimum defined level in English and/or French. You can take the language test multiple times before you apply, but you must score at least a Canadian Language Benchmark 5 in either language.

Tests must be taken from an accredited agency, which includes IELTS or CELPIP, otherwise your results won’t count.

    4. You have enough money to settle in Canada and support yourself
Similar to language requirements, having settlement funds is a requirement of many Canadian permanent residence application programs. Each year, the government publishes minimum settlement fund requirements, adjusted for the number of family members included in your application. If you are applying as a single individual, the number of family members is one. If you have a spouse or common-law partner, the number of family members would be two.

For one person, the minimum level of funds is CAD $12,475 at the time this blog was published (remember, this is subject to change every year, so double check before you apply to confirm). For a family of 4, the amount is CAD $23,181.

When you apply, you will have to show evidence that you have access to these funds in a transferable, unencumbered form. This essentially means the funds are yours, are liquid and are not tied down by any debt or other obligation that would impair you from accessing them.

If you meet all of the requirements above, plus other general requirements that apply to everyone applying for Canadian permanent residence (i.e. background criminal and medical checks, etc.), you can gather your documents and apply.

Given the nature and business-related documentation required for a Start-Up Visa application, we strongly recommend working with an experienced legal professional to assist you in preparing the strongest application possible.

How Do I Hire Foreign Workers For My Canadian Based Company?

How can I hire foreign workers under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program?

We are a mid-sized company in Markham, Ontario that wishes to hire several foreign workers to join our team. We are extremely confused by the requirements, and would like to clarify the following:

1. Do we need to advertise the positions and show that no Canadian can do the job? and

2. Do we need to pay foreign workers a specific wage?

Employers that wish to hire foreign workers must demonstrate that there are no Canadians or permanent residents who could do the job, as it is the government’s policy to ensure that all Canadian residents can find employment. To demonstrate that there is no one available to do the job, employers must show that they have made sufficient recruitment efforts in Canada.

However, the minimum requirements to demonstrate these efforts depends on the type of employment being offered. For workers in management and professional occupations, the employer must only show efforts that are consistent with the industry. For workers in trades and technical positions, the employer must also demonstrate advertising on the National Job Bank. For some types of employees, such as post-graduate work permit holders and software engineers, no advertising is required.

Employers must learn the detailed requirements for each position they hope to employ a foreign worker in. Foreign workers must be paid the same amount as Canadians. However, it is sometimes difficult to know what that amount is. Before May 2012, employers were required to pay the “median wage” for workers in the same occupation in their geographic location.

However, now they are allowed to pay up to 15% less than the median income, depending on the job offered, and providing they can prove that this is the wage paid to other employees. This is because many employers complained that HRSDC required them to pay foreign workers more than their local staff. In any case, it would be wise to seek to advise of experienced counsel to determine the requirements in each case.

I Would Like To Apply For A Working Holiday In Canada, But Can’t Find The Application Forms. What’s Going On?

How to apply for International Experience Canada work permit

The International Experience Canada work permit program application process for 2013 has recently been changed. For some applicants, the application process will now be done entirely online, while applicants from other countries will continue to use the paper applications or a combination of both methods.

The new online application will have two parts and applicants will now have to undergo an online program eligibility assessment and an online work permit assessment, using tools such as an IEC-Kompass account and a MyCIC account.

Due to this change, certain IEC programs are not accepting applications at the moment, but the programs are expected to open in early 2013, some before February 1, 2013. As per usual, there will be a limited number of spaces available and those will be filled on a first-come-first-served basis for successful applicants.
If you would like assistance applying for an International Experience Canada work permit, or for any other type of Canadian immigration permit or visa, our experienced lawyers would be pleased to help you. Kindly contact us for a consultation at your convenience.

How do I change my application to the Federal Skilled Trades Program?

I applied for PR as a federal skilled worker before the law changed requiring a job offer. I now see I would qualify under the new trades category but I don’t have an employer. With the new changes, will my application be rejected?

If your application was previously determined to be eligible then you will be not rejected. If you wish to submit a second application
( provided you have a job offer) you could do so, but I would suggest you get full detailed legal advice prior to taking any further steps.


Can The President Of A Real Estate Company In China Pursue Business In Canadian Provinces?

How can the International Mobility Program help me to open a Real Estate business in Canada?

Our friends in China own a real estate development company that would like to open an office in Canada to pursue real estate development in several provinces. Is it possible for my friend, who is the president of the company, to obtain a work permit in Canada?

If the Chinese company incorporates a Canadian subsidiary or affiliate, it could send an employee to Canada provided the company meets a number of important requirements. The company would need to provide a business plan which outlines the details of the Canadian operation, including the capital to be invested, the business model, business scope, potential contracts, office location, human resources plan and pro forma financial statements. Full documentation to support how the business plan will be realized would be necessary. In addition, the employee to be transferred to Canada should be either senior management or possess specialized knowledge relating to the company’s products, services or operations. It may be difficult for the president of a company to send himself/herself to Canada, as it would be hard to understand who would run the Chinese company in his/her absence. Full details should be discussed with a lawyer who understands the specific legal requirements.