Canada For Start-Ups

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Why Bring Your Start-Up Business To Canada?

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Corporate interest in Canada has dramatically increased since 2016 when the World Bank’s  “Doing Business Project” named it the third-best place in the world to start or have a start-up business. Overall interest in Canada has been always high as the country is consistently ranked as one of the Overall Best Countries in the world. Second only to Switzerland.

This led to something of a start-up boom (and made the Toronto-Waterloo region the densest start-up market in the world). Yet Canada’s position among the top global start-up markets is no surprise to people familiar with the country’s focus on building its start-up ecosystem. This process began in the early 2000s and has included actions like:

  • The Canadian government committing billions of dollars to foster growth and innovation in the start-up industry, especially the tech sector, via both investment and tax incentives;
  • Private venture capitalists, start-up incubators, and angel investors in Canada disbursing funds to support start-up firms at record-setting (and world-leading) rates for years; and
  • New designs in both academic and immigration policy — including the Start-Up Visa Program — aimed at developing (and retaining) and aggressively court a diverse, highly-skilled workforce.

As a result, industry analysts agree that bringing your start-up business to Canada via the Start-Up Visa Program presents a unique opportunity to create sustainable success [4]. It is worth noting that there are also other options to bring foreign-owned start-ups to Canada.

What Is The Start-Up Visa Program & What Makes It Unique?

Generally speaking, Canada’s Start-Up Visa Program is explicitly designed to tie the country’s immigration policies to its economic goals. The program does this, namely, by creating a straightforward path to rapid immigration (via temporary work visa) — followed by permanent-resident status and (eventually) citizenship — for foreign entrepreneurs.

Under the tenets of the Start-Up Visa Program, would-be immigrants apply with the explicit support of venture capitalists or angel investors in Canada who pledge to invest in their business ideas.

Unlike Canada’s previous Entrepreneur Visa, the Start-Up Visa Program looks to venture capitalists for assurance that an immigrant entrepreneur’s business idea is viable (and to hold them accountable for pursuing it). Compared with other countries’ business/start-up visa offerings — including the Global-Entrepreneur-in-Residence Program sometimes available in the U.S. and the International Entrepreneur Rule formerly in action — Canada’s Start-Up Visa Program offers entrepreneurs an unparalleled degree of freedom to work for themselves (not as an employee of the sponsoring party) and towards the success of their own business.

Who Can Apply For A Start-Up Visa?

Interested entrepreneurs must have a qualifying business to apply for a Start-Up Visa in Canada. This means that no more than 5 applicants claiming business ownership may apply, each applicant must hold at least 10% of voting rights attached to outstanding shares of the corporation, and (jointly) applicants must hold at least 50% of total voting rights within the firm. It is also wise to follow our top tips on how foreign entrepreneurs can start their businesses in Canada

Conditions to Gain Start-Up Eligibility

Additionally, applicants must meet four conditions to gain Start-Up Visa eligibility (the “Education” requirement was removed in 2016), plus the medical/security requirements for immigration. These conditions include:

1.   Earning A Letter Of Support & Commitment Certificate For Start-Up Visa Eligibility

Start-Up Visa applicants must get a Letter of Support and a Commitment Certificate from a designated venture capitalist, start-up incubator, or angel investor in Canada. Obtaining these documents signals that your business idea is viable, and you have contracted with a reputable Canadian firm for support. Applications submitted without these documents are rejected.

2.   Meeting The Investment Start-Up Visa Requirement

Applicants must meet a minimum standard for the level of financial commitment pledged to the start-up. Those applicants working with a venture capital firm must secure a commitment of $200,000, those working with designated angel investors in Canada must show proof of a $75,000 (or greater) financial commitment.

The applicants do not need to get financial investment from a start-up incubator but they need to be accepted into an accredited start-up incubator program in Canada.

Those who secure funding from more than one designated investor must meet the highest minimum investment requirement applied to the involved parties (if one venture capital firm is involved, the minimum will always be $200,000, for example) (if one angel investor then $75,000, respectively).

Start-Up Visa applicants do not need to invest any of their own assets.

3.   Meeting The Language Start-Up Visa Requirement

Given the importance of communication in business success, Start-Up Visa applicants must demonstrate sufficient fluency in either English or French (for listening, reading, writing, and speaking) to meet or exceed Canadian Language Benchmark 5.

4.   Arranging/Demonstrating Proof Of Sufficient Settlement Funds

Independent from the investment commitments for supporting your business, you must also show proof of sufficient funds to support yourself (and anyone planning to immigrate with you) to earn Start-Up Visa eligibility. The amount you must have varies depending on the number of people applying along with you.

You cannot count financial commitments made to your business towards this settlement fund account (even if you earn investment pledges exceeding the minimum), though in some cases your designated investor may be able/willing to separately assist you with settlement funding.

5.   Meeting The Requisite Security & Medical Clearances For Immigration

Start-Up Visa Program applicants are subject to a criminal record check and must provide relevant, non-expired Police Certificates to facilitate this process. Canadian immigration officials also expect applicants to submit medical exam results from a panel physician (not your personal/family doctor) to ensure they are medically admissible.

These steps technically happen after submitting the Start-Up Visa application, though they are necessary for application acceptance.

People who meet these Start-Up Visa eligibility requirements should apply for the Start-Up Visa by submitting form IMM 5759 (available here).

How To Get Support From Start-Up Incubators Or Angel Investors In Canada:

For many entrepreneurs, securing startup capital and “buy-in” from investment capitalists or angel investors marks a significant turning point in their business development. That said, seeking investment commitment from designated organizations and angel investors in Canada as a part of the Start-Up Visa application process requires a unique focus.

Step 1. Identify Relevant Designated Start-Up Incubators, Venture Capital Firms, & Angel Investors In Canada

For example, angel investor organizations often outline nuanced specialty areas or requirements for businesses interested in securing a financial commitment from their members, with readily accessible information pointing to the following designations:

Find the full list of designated organizations is available here.

Step 2: Contact Relevant Designated Organizations (& Wait For Them To Research Your Business)

Step 2a: Create & Submit A Business Plan For Angel Investors/VCs:

Some designated organizations may not require applicants to provide a comprehensive business plan at the outset of their investment discussion. That said, the majority of investors will expect at least a well-defined and supported business idea, and creating a business plan would not be harmful (find a basic guide to business planning here).

Most organizations will ask for a pitch deck or executive summary of your business plan in your initial contact. Though you should see specific organizations’ websites for more information about their requirements. You may need to prepare business plans, financial and incorporation documents, references, and any other relevant information the investor may require to make a decision.

Step 2b: Submit A Query To Start-Up Incubators:

Like venture capital firms and angel investors in Canada, start-up incubators ask for equity in return for providing support for your business. Unlike other equity investors, applying to a start-up incubator often requires additional pre-application research (finding out more about their curriculum and contacting alumni of their programs to ask about the experience of working with them).

Additionally, though there are many similarities between the pitch decks and planning processes for all start-up investment discussions, pitching a business idea to a start-up incubator requires a different type of presentation than other equity investors (learn more about that here). Moreover, many designated angel investors in Canada work with start-up incubators, so gaining admittance to the former and commitment from the latter is easier.

Step 3: Receive An Invitation To Meet

If any designated organization(s) you contact is sufficiently interested in your business idea to find out more, you’ll be invited to give a pitch deck presentation. What you present should reflect what was in the initial pitch deck or executive summary submitted. No matter whether your pitch aims to secure the interest of investors or incubators, it should be brief, remain tightly focused on-point, and include:

  • The value statement for your firm/idea.
  • An outline of your team and how your human resources are unique and value additive.
  • A brief explanation of the competitive landscape for your product/service.
  • Statements establishing the existence and interest of a specific target market, as well as a basic plan for how you will reach them.
  • 12-month, 3-year, and 5-year forecasts.
  • An overview of expected expenses (both startup costs and operational overhead).
  • Your implementation timeline.
  • A detailed explanation of what you are asking for and how you will use it.

Step 4: Receive An Offer Of Investment Commitment

If investors want to offer financial support, you’ll receive an offer with equity asks and expectations of repayment.

Most investors expect to have access to your company’s financials and projections by now and will base their conditions and contingencies on those statements.


What Happens After You Apply For A Start-Up Visa?

After submitting your application to Canada’s Start-Up Visa Program, you can expect the following outcomes/timelines:

After You Submit Your Application:

  1. Applications generally take 12-16 months to process; though it is possible to apply for and receive a temporary work permit enabling entry before the application is approved.

If Your Application Is Accepted:

  • The Start-Up Visa Program fast tracks entrepreneurs’ immigration, enabling successful applicants entry to Canada within weeks of acceptance.
  • At/from the time you receive your permanent Canadian residence as a part of the Start-Up Visa Program, you must:
    • actively manage the business from within Canada on an ongoing basis.
    • ensure that some essential function of business operations takes place within Canada.
    • incorporate the business in Canada.
  • If your business fails, it will not impact your permanent resident status.

What Happens If Your Start-Up Visa Application Is Denied?

There is no limit on reapplying, no appeals process, and no mandatory waiting period. You can reapply immediately after the denial of your initial application. However, submitting a new application without reviewing it and fully understanding what went wrong can be both costly and ineffective.

Get Experienced Advice Before You Apply For Canada’s Start-Up Visa Program

Sobirovs Law Firm team can help you bring your start-up business to Canada together with your family and business partners. You can focus on your startup idea and we focus on your permanent residence in Canada. Book a consultation to work with an immigration lawyer today!

Bringing You, Your Tech Talent & Your Business To Canada

Get started and make your first step towards Canada. Book your 1-hour strategy meeting with a licensed Canadian immigration lawyer.

Immigration to Canada can be very complicated for businesses, business owners, and foreign employees. Hiring business immigration lawyers with the skill, experience, and patience is often crucial to successfully navigating this complex process. The experienced professionals at Sobirovs Law Firm offer tailored legal services in all business and corporate immigration matters. Contact us for more information on how we can help you meet your immigration needs.

We have worked with & represented clients from all walks of life. Always just one call – or click – away, weʼre happy to help you begin your & your familyʼs journey to Canada.

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Lucia Lu
Lucia Lu
I cannot say enough good things about Sobirovs Law Firm’s exceptional team. My work permit application was quite complex and underwent numerous tests, including a rejection from the first attempt. Feruza developed a tailored strategy that contributed to the best chance of success in the resubmission, and her entire team presented my case with unparalleled expertise and genuine care. I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to Maggie, a phenomenal consultant who supported me in every step of the application, took the time to understand my unique situation and answered all my questions patiently. Her in-depth knowledge of the work permit program, proficiency in preparing my application and professional communication were reassuring and truly remarkable. Thanks to your team’s extraordinary work, I can now pursue my business goals in Canada with peace of mind. I am grateful for your hard work and the compassionate support you provided throughout this journey. You have my highest recommendation without any reservations.
Nomin Dunburee
Nomin Dunburee
I had the pleasure of collaborating with the highly skilled professionals at Sobirovs to achieve my goals. Feruza's extensive expertise was invaluable, as she guided me through the most suitable pathway for my business immigration. I am profoundly grateful for choosing Sobirovs and highly recommend their exceptional services!
Bimal Banik
Bimal Banik
I really appreciate Sovirovs professional services ,I am truly happy and satisfied with their team work .I wish them all the best
Amirov Temur
Amirov Temur
I am happy with the help I got from Sobirov Law Firm. They were always there for me : answering my questions and giving me support through the visa application process and with general immigration related questions. They made everything easier and were quick to respond whenever I needed them. I would recommend Sobirov Law Firm to anyone needing visa assistance for Canada. I trusted them, and did not regret! Thanks for all your help! I hope for further cooperation with you.
Yuri l
Yuri l
I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Ms. Feruza Djamalova, Ms. Judy Le and the entire team of Sobirovs Law Firm for their highly professional and excellent work in the complicated process of obtaining approval of our application for the business immigration program. I had several previous refusals over the course of 5 years. At that point, I contacted Sobirovs Law Firm. Their knowledge, competence, and perseverance turned my application into a success! My case was dealt by Feruza and Judy and I sincerely appreciate what an incredible job they have done and how much they have helped us. I believe they have a special gift and talent for assisting their clients. I want to particularly thank Judy for her patience and attention to detail in our case and also for thanks to her diligence, skill and attention to detail. I highly recommend Sobirovs Law Firm to anyone who wants to move to Canada using Business Immigration Programs and is looking for an immigration law firm capable of making a dream come true. They are highly professional and specialized in this field. I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks for their support.
Syed Namdaar Ali
Syed Namdaar Ali
My experience with Sobirov's was very rewarding. Starting from LMIA to Work permit it was a smooth sail. The entire team especially Yulia prepared my case painstakingly. They guided me on every little detail. Special thanks to Feroza, Farukh, Madina and the entire team for making this happen.
Bhrushank Ved
Bhrushank Ved
I had an amazing experience with the Sobirovs in applying for my C11 Work Permit. Feruza, Maggie, Judy and Yulia planned every step of the way and made the process a breeze. Benjamin was also quite knowledgeable and assisted me with the business plan for my application. I recommend Sobirovs team if you plan to expand your existing business or start a new business in Canada. Highly recommended!
Senol Ercetin
Senol Ercetin
Dear Sobirovs Team, I would like to thank you (Yulia, Faruk, Feruza, Madina) for taking care of us closely in obtaining the necessary work permits for the establishment of the Canadian branch of our company and the necessary visas for our family. You have carried out a flawless process. With sincere regards
Rakesh Shrivastava
Rakesh Shrivastava
I had a great experience working with the Sobirov Law Firm. The entire team was professional, prompt, and meticulous in their approach. We started working with them on LMIA under GTS of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. The time it took from creation of an Incorporation to submission and approval of our application was around 8 weeks. Work Permit approval took another 2 weeks. They also helped us get shared office space since it was a new experience for us. They guided us in finding a payroll service provider and a realtor to help with the relocation of the foreign employee. My sincere thanks to Feruza Djamalova and Rakhmad Sobirov (Attorneys), and Yulia Kan (Team Lead).


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