Required Settlement Funds To Increase For 2021 Canada Start-Up Visa

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Required Settlement Funds To Increase For 2021 Canada Start-Up Visa
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Start-Up Visa program candidates will need to prove they have more settlement funds than required last year to qualify for Canadian permanent residency.

“The Government of Canada does not give financial support to new Start-Up Visa immigrants,” notes Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) on its website. “When you apply, you’ll need to give proof that you have the money to support yourself and your dependents after you arrive in Canada. You can’t borrow this money from another person.” 


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With the latest round of increases, the funds required for a single applicant have increased by 1.95 per cent, or $253, from $12,960 in 2020 to $13,213 this year.

Similar small increases have been applied for each number of family members (see the table below).

The new requirements are outlined below:

Settlement Funds Required For The Start-Up Visa Program

Number of Family Members 2020 Funds Required 2021 Funds Required
1 $12,960 $13,213
2 $16,135 $16,449
3 $19,836 $20222
4 $24,083             $24,553
5 $27,315 $27,847
6 $30,806 $31,407
7 $34,299 $34,967
Each additional family member $3,492 $3,560

Settlement funds are required by applicants under the Start-Up Visa program to cover the cost of living for their family. This applies even if the family is not accompanying the applicant to Canada.

The funds must be readily available both when a candidate applies and when a permanent residence visa is issued.

Official letters from banks or other financial institutions act as proof of funds.

According to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, the letter must:

  • be printed on the financial institution’s letterhead;
  • include their contact information (address, telephone number and email address);
  • include your name;
  • list outstanding debts such as credit card debts and loans, and;
  • include, for each current bank and investment account:
    • account numbers;
    • the date each account was opened;
    • the current balance of each account, and;
    • the average balance for the past six months.

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Canadians Spend Up To Half Their Income On Housing

Ottawa does not provide immigrants arriving under Start-Up Visa program with any financial support.

Importantly, applicants must have sufficient finances to fund their start up project.  Receiving support from an Angel Investor will require more funding to satisfy a Canadian investor.   Conversely, receiving support from an Incubator requires less funding.  However, there is a trade off in choosing one or the other.

Working with an immigration lawyer, experienced in the Canadian start up ecosystem, will ensure you can best address this important area.

Beyond funds needed to finance the business and settlement funding, even those earning relatively good salaries can expect to pay up to half of their take-home pay in household expenses, including the costs of their:

  • home;
  • heating and other utilities;
  • food;
  • clothing;
  • health insurance, and;
  • transportation.

The amount of money applicants need depends upon the size of their families. Ottawa revises these amounts each year.

Applicants need to research the actual cost of living where they plan to settle in Canada.

“Most Canadians spend 35 to 50 per cent of their income on housing and utilities. This includes the cost of renting your home or paying your mortgage,” notes the IRCC. “It also includes the often-high cost of heating your home and paying for electricity, telephone service and water.”

Household expenses in Canada include the rent or mortgage for the home, heating, utilities, telephone service, water, food, clothing, health insurance and transportation.

A basic room in a lower-cost part of the country will still likely cost at least $350 a month. Rents of $2,000 per month for an apartment in a big city are quite common.

Provincial and territorial health programs often do not cover the costs of healthcare for newcomers for the first three months they are in Canada.


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Food costs of course vary depending on the size of the family and their appetites and can easily double if the family dines in restaurants or buys specialty food items.

Clothing expenses are usually 10 per cent or less of a Canadian’s take-home pay.

Once the basics are covered, it’s always a good idea to budget some money for occasional, unplanned expenses, including prescription medicine not covered by health insurance, school supplies, and long-distance calls to friends and family back home.

Expect pay cheque deductions to reduce the gross salary by 25 to 35 per cent due to:

  • income taxes;
  • Canada Pension Plan or Quebec Pension Plan;
  • Employment Insurance;
  • union dues (for unionized workers), and;
  • payments to a retirement or pension plan.

Canadian customs regulations require that any immigrants coming to the country declare if they are bringing in more than $10,000.

Typically, the authorities permit applicants to bring funds in the form of:

  • cash
  • documents that highlight property or capital payable to the applicant such as:
    • stocks;
    • bonds;
    • debentures, or;
    • treasury bills, or;
  • documents that guarantee payment of a specific amount of money, which is payable to the applicant, such as:
    • bankers’ drafts;
    • cheques;
    • travellers’ cheques or;
    • money orders. 

Start-Up Visa Allows Immigrant Entrepreneurs To Gain Permanent Residency

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. 

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.

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.

Permanent Residency Takes 18 Months After Business Project Approved

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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Colin Singer is an international acclaimed Canadian immigration lawyer featured on Wikipedia. Colin Singer is founding director of the Canadian Citizenship & Immigration Resource Center (CCIRC) Inc. He served as an Associate Editor of ‘Immigration Law Reporter’, the pre-eminent immigration law publication in Canada. He previously served as an executive member of the Canadian Bar Association’s Quebec and National Immigration Law Sections and is currently a member of the Canadian Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. Colin has twice appeared as an expert witness before Canada’s House of Commons Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration. He is frequently recognized as a recommended authority at national conferences sponsored by government and non-government organizations on matters affecting Canada’s immigration and human resource industries. Since 2009, Colin has been a Governor of the Quebec Bar Foundation a non-profit organization committed to the advancement of the profession, and became a lifetime member in 2018.