Opportunity For Start-Up Visa Entrepreneurs As Canadian Business Optimism Improves

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Businesses Call For Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot To Become Permanent
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Canada immigration news: As Canada emerges from the pandemic and companies start to hire once again, business owners in are bullish about the economy and its prospects over the coming year.

The reason for the optimism is a strong rebound in consumer retail sales, which comprise about 55 per cent of the country’s GDP, so far this year.

“Sunny days for retail sales are here,” proclaimed Conference Board of Canada economist Kiefer Van Mulligen in his “Quick Take” report on Aug. 20. 

“An acceleration in vaccination programs in June prompted some (though not all) provinces to ease restrictions,” he wrote. “This allowed many Canadians to head out to patios, book vacations and engage in social activities. All of which meant more spending.”


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According to Statistics Canada, 75.7 per cent of Canadian business owners now report having a somewhat or very optimistic outlook on the year ahead. 

Almost a quarter of the businesses surveyed by the statistical services agency of the Canadian government at the start of the third quarter of the year are expecting demand for products and services to go up and more than one in five businesses is expecting prices for their goods and services to also rise.

Canada’s Economic Prospects Improving

Entrepreneurs are looking ahead to better times with almost four times as many of them in Canada, 18.4 per cent, planning to expand their own businesses or invest in another one as are those who are thinking of selling, transferring or closing theirs down at 4.8 per cent.

The big unknown is still the pandemic and what may come in the way of another wave of COVID-19 but most businesses clearly feel better times are ahead.

Foreign investors looking to ride that wave as the Canadian economy rebounds can apply for permanent residence in Canada through the country’s Start-Up Visa program.

The Canadian start-up climate is a good one, particularly during the pandemic.

In the 2021 Global Start-up Ecosystem Index Report, Canada was again ranked fourth – and boasts more cities in the top 50 than any other countries with only two exceptions: the much-larger United States and China.  

“Canada is fortunate to have three cities in the top 50 globally, with the ecosystem of Montreal increasing three spots to rank 46th globally. Only the U.S. and China have more cities in the top 50 than Canada, showing the diversity of the nation’s strong global and regional hubs,” noted the report.

Start-Up Visa Leads To Launch Of 200 Businesses in 8 Years

The Start-Up Visa program, which began as a five-year pilot program in 2013, was made permanent in 2018 and has launched some 200 start-ups, including edtech unicorn ApplyBoard, founded by brothers Martin Massi and Meti Basiri, who moved from Iran to Canada for school, and who now employ more than 500 people.

Under the Start-Up Visa program, immigrants can get Canadian permanent residence if they qualify as immigrant entrepreneurs.

Three types of private-sector investors are considered: angel investors, venture capital funds, and business incubators. 

  • A designated venture capital fund must confirm that it is investing at least $200,000 into the qualifying business. Candidates can also qualify with two or more commitments from designated venture capital funds totalling $200,000. 
  • A designated angel investor group must invest at least $75,000 into the qualifying business. Candidates can also qualify with two or more investments from angel investor groups totalling $75,000. 
  • A designated business incubator must accept the applicant into its business incubator program. It is up to the immigrant investor to develop a viable business plan that will meet the due diligence requirements of these government-approved designated entities.

Immigration Lawyers Help Start-Up Visa Entrepreneurs

That investing and the development of the business is usually done with the help of business consultants in Canada’s start-up ecosystem with oversight from experienced corporate business immigration lawyers who can ensure a start-up’s business concept meets all industry-required terms and conditions.

Candidates applying under the Start-Up Visa program can initially come to Canada on a work permit supported by their designated Canadian investor before their application for permanent residence is finalized.

The basic government-imposed candidate eligibility requirements for the Start-Up Visa program are:

  • a qualifying business;
  • a commitment certificate and letter of support from a designated entity;
  • sufficient unencumbered, available and transferable settlement funds to meet settlement funding, and;
  • proficiency in English or French at the minimum Canadian Language Benchmark level 5.  However, it frequently occurs that higher levels of English are needed to meet due diligence requirements imposed by designated entities.

Ottawa does not give financial support to new Start-Up Visa immigrants. When candidates apply, they need to show evidence they have the finances to support themselves and their dependents in Canada. This money cannot be borrowed.

Additionally, it often occurs that candidates will need to show additional, sufficient funding to meet start-up costs of their business project, as a condition of investment by a designated entity (VC or Angel).

This is an area where experienced legal consulting will prove invaluable. The amount of settlement funding needed depends on the size of the candidate’s family.

Start-Up Visa Does Not Require Previous Management Experience

Unlike almost every other federal and provincial-level entrepreneur program which requires a minimum of one or two years of previous experience either owning a business or in top-level management, the Start-Up Visa program does not require previous management experience.

The support of a government-designated entity is enough. That support can be either financial or in the form of accepting the candidate into a business incubator program. 

Immigrants who avail themselves of the Start-Up Visa program consistently report that it is quick, both for the initial work permit and permit residence application.

With a viable start-up business project, an immigrant entrepreneur can expect it to take about four to six months to secure a commitment certificate or letter of support from a designated entity. Once that letter of support is received, the application for permanent residence can be submitted.

It will then take approximately 18-months to finalize the application through to the issuance of a permanent residence visa.  For the candidate to qualify for permanent residence:

  • The intended business must be incorporated and carrying on business in Canada;
  • The candidate must own at least 10 per cent of the voting rights in the corporation, and;
  • No other person can hold 50 per cent or more of the voting rights in the corporation.

As many as five candidates can have their permanent residence application supported by the same business investment.  But that can come with a risk. Certain candidates may be designated as essential to the business. If any of the essential candidates withdraw their applications or are refused, all other candidates under the same business investment will see their applications terminated.

Surveys suggest Start-Up Visa candidates usually go on to succeed in Canada, in terms of growing their business, attracting further investment, networking or selling their business for a profit.

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