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International Students Urged to Consider Start-Up Visa Program

The federal Start-Up Visa program is being presented to Chinese international students in British Columbia as a way to use entrepreneur immigration way to extend their time in Canada after graduation.

A recent event at the University of British Columbia aimed at linking students with entrepreneurs generated significant interest among young, educated, Chinese speakers looking to secure their futures in Canada.International Students Urged to Consider Start-Up Visa ProgramWhile some were unaware of the onerous commitments required when starting a business, others could see the potential benefits of pursuing permanents residency through the Start-Up Visa program.

A key element of the Start-Up Visa program is that it does not require previous management experience.

Almost every other federal and provincial-level entrepreneur program requires a minimum of one or two years of previous experience either owning a business or in top-level management. The exception is the passive Quebec Immigrant Investor Program (QIIP).

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Under the Start-Up Visa, the onus is placed on securing support from a government-designated entity (angel investor group, venture capital fund or business incubator). The support can be financial or in the form of accepting the candidate into a business incubator program.

Provided other requirements are met, the candidate then receives Canadian permanent residence in return.

The program aims to recruit innovative entrepreneurs to Canada and link them with the Canadian private sector businesses, (angel investor groups, venture capital funds or business incubators) and facilitate the establishment of their start-up business in Canada.

Initially launched as a pilot in 2013, the Start-Up Visa program is due to make the transition to permanent on March 31, 2018. As of August 2017, 68 new companies had been launched under the program, attracting investment of $3.7 million.

Critics would point out this represents limited success when compared to Quebec, which accepts 1,900 immigrant investors annually. This generates nearly $275 million ($146,000 per investor) which is given to qualified Quebec companies.

Applicants to Canada’s Start-Up Visa program must meet four basic eligibility requirements:

  1. Obtain a commitment from a designated entity in the form of a Commitment Certificate or Letter of Support;
  2. Have sufficient unencumbered, available and transferable settlement funds;
  3. Have completed at least one year of post-secondary education;
  4. Demonstrate sufficient proficiency in English or French through standardized testing (Canadian Language Benchmark level 5);

The required commitment from a designated entity must meet the following criteria:

  • A designated angel investor group must confirm that it is investing at least $75,000 into the qualifying business, or two or more commitments from designated angel investor groups totaling $75,000; OR
  • A designated venture capital fund must confirm that it is investing at least $200,000 into the qualifying business or two or more commitments from designated venture capital funds totaling $200,000; OR
  • A designated business incubator must confirm that it is accepting the applicant into its business incubator Program.

In order to qualify, the intended business must be incorporated and carrying on business in Canada at the time the commitment is made and:

  • The applicant owns a least 10 per cent of the voting rights in the corporation; AND
  • No other person holds 50 per cent or more of the total amount of voting rights in the corporation.

Start-Up Visa Program: Government-Designated Entities

Designated Venture Capital Funds

  • BDC Venture Capital
  • Blackberry Partners Fund II LP (doing business as Relay Ventures Fund II)
  • Celtic House Venture Partners
    • Celtic House Venture Partners Fund III LP
    • Celtic House Venture Partners Fund IV LP
    • DRI Capital Inc.
    • Extreme Venture Partners LLP
    • Golden Opportunities Fund Inc.
    • iNovia Capital Inc.
    • Lumira Capital
    • New Brunswick Innovation Foundation Inc.
    • OMERS Ventures Management Inc.
    • Pangaea Ventures Fund III, LP
    • PRIVEQ Capital Funds
      • PRIVEQ III Limited Partnership
      • PRIVEQ IV Limited Partnership
    • Real Ventures
    • Rho Canada Ventures
    • Summerhill Venture Partners Management Inc.
    • Tandem Expansion Management Inc.
    • Top Renergy Inc.
    • Vanedge Capital Limited Partnership
    • Version One Ventures
    • Wellington Financial LP
    • Westcap Mgt. Ltd.
      • Canadian Accelerator Fund Ltd.
    • Yaletown Venture Partners Inc.

Designated Angel Investor Groups

  • Angel One Network Inc.
  • First Angel Network Association
  • Golden Triangle Angel Network
  • Oak Mason Investments Inc.
  • TenX Angel Investors Inc.
  • VANTEC Angel Network Inc.

Designated Business Incubators

  • Alacrity Foundation
  • Alberta Agriculture and Forestry
    • Agrivalue Processing Business Incubator
    • Food Processing Development Centre
  • Bioenterprise Corporation
  • Canada Accelerator Co (d/b/a HIGHLINE)
  • Communitech
  • The DMZ at Ryerson University
  • Empowered Startups Ltd.
  • Extreme Innovations
  • Genesis Centre
  • INcubes Inc.
  • Innovacorp
  • Innovate Calgary
  • Interactive Niagara Media Cluster o/a Innovate Niagara
  • Invest Ottawa
  • Istuary Idea Labs
  • Knowledge Park o/a Planet Hatch
  • Launch Academy
  • LaunchPad PEI Inc.
  • NEXT Canada
  • Real Investment Fund III L.P. o/a FounderFuel
  • Ryerson Futures Inc.
  • Spark Centre
  • Spring Activator
  • Toronto Business Development Centre
  • Waterloo Accelerator Centre
  • York Entrepreneurship Development Institute

The federal government sees the program as another way to promote Canada’s pro-immigration stance to the business community. It sits alongside the flagship Global Talent Stream, which offers two-week application processing for selected in-demand jobs for registered companies.

The GTS has been hailed as a big success since it was introduced by the Liberal government in 2017.

Key Elements: Global Talent Stream

  • Two-week standard for processing Canada work permit applications (and Canada visa applications when applicable) for highly skilled talent.
  • Dedicated service for companies looking to make significant job-creating investments in Canada.
  • Dropping of the work permit requirement for short-term highly skilled work (30 days or less in a 12-month period), and brief academic stays.
  • Companies applying for workers through the Global Talent Stream will have access to the new streamlined application process that will provide:
    • Client-focused service to help guide eligible employers through the application process and the development of the Labour Market Benefits Plan, with a service standard of 10 business days.
    • Eligibility for workers to have their work permit applications processed in 10 business days.

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