• Start-up Visa Program Provides a Permanent Residence Option for Foreign Entrepreneurs
  • July 15, 2013 | Author: Melanie C. Samuels
  • Law Firm: Singleton Urquhart LLP - Vancouver Office
  • Over the last two years, federal immigration options for foreign investors have been seriously curtailed. The former federal entrepreneur category was suspended in July 2011 and a moratorium has been in place on the federal investor program for nearly a year. Recently, however, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) launched the Start-Up Visa program for foreign entrepreneurs seeking permanent resident status in Canada.

    The program is like CIC's version of “Dragon's Den”: applicants are required to pitch their business idea and secure a minimum investment of $75,000 from one of the approved angel investor groups or a minimum investment of $200,000 from a designated venture capital fund. They are not required to invest their own money in their proposed business.

    Designated angel investor groups and venture capital funds are listed on CIC's website—http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/immigrate/business/start-up/eligibility/entities.asp.

    Applicants must receive a letter of support from one of these designated investor organizations before applying under the Start-up Visa program. In addition to obtaining a letter of support, the entrepreneur applicant must:

    • meet minimum language requirements
    • have at least one year of post-secondary education
    • prove he or she has sufficient settlement funds to support him- or herself and accompanying family.

    If the proposed business ultimately fails, the entrepreneur applicant's permanent resident status will not be affected.

    Set to run for an initial five years, CIC has committed to issuing 2,750 visas per year to start-up entrepreneurs and their families. Current processing times for these types of applications are not yet known.