Many investors find it hard to know if they could qualify for the Start-Up Visa Program (SUV Program), if they need to have prior Start-Up experience, if they can have real estate business or other traditional investments to qualify … etc. We would agree that we read the requirements of the program, it can be rather confusing. Which is why as an immigration by investment professional law firm for 20 years, JTH Lawyers is happy to present a typical Q & A on the SUV Program.
Q: Am I eligible for the Start-Up Visa Program (SUV Program)?
A: If you have money OR if you are a Start-Up entrepreneur, you could likely qualify. A Start-Up entrepreneur could for example accept a maximum of 4 investors as co-shareholders in the new business to be set up in Canada. For investors who have money but no Start-Up experience, they could contribute money and their business experience to Start-Up company, and accordingly get Permanent Residence (PR) in Canada. So, in a nutshell, Permanent Residence may be issued to the Founders of Start-up companies and their investors.
Q: What kind of business must I invest in?
A: You do NOT need to come up with the business idea. If you are an investor, you could look at investment opportunities that we would be presenting you, and select an investment opportunity in which you would invest money for at least 10% equity. The type of investment opportunity is limited to innovative businesses, for example: Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, Green energy technologies, finance technologies, crypto currencies (cc), blockchain, chatbots, etc. The type of business that does NOT qualify are real estate investments, garage business, restaurants, franchises, etc. So, in a nutshell, Permanent Residence may be issued to the Founders of Start-up companies and their investors if the investment goes towards a truly innovative business.
Q: Can I make a passive investment and still qualify for SUV Program?
A: Yes, to a certain extent it may be a rather passive investment. Canada immigration would require that after getting PR, you would provide ongoing management in a business. However, this does NOT have to be a full-time occupation, it does NOT require any number of days spent physically in the office, etc. Basically, you would have for example a director position and be able to supervise the company activities from anywhere in the world. The company would be set up in Canada but as an investor, you would keep your complete freedom of movement and keep your ability to move in and out of Canada as you wish.
Q: Can you help me find an investment opportunity qualified to apply under the SUV Program?
A: Absolutely. Founders of Start-Up are most often looking for funding because it takes time before a Start-Up can transit from a business plan into a money-making business. At first the burn rate can be quite high, so Founders are typically very keen on having investors willing to contribute financially to the Start-Up company in exchange for a 10% equity participation. So, in a nutshell, Permanent Residence may be issued to the investors of Start-up companies even if they don’t yet have any investment opportunity before they meet us.
Q: How long until I get my Permanent Residence under the Start-Up Visa Program?
A: Anywhere between 24 to 36 months, but it could be longer if you are careless about the identity of your designated organization. The fact that a designated organization issues a Letter of Support (LOS) for you only means that you can apply for PR, but does not mean you will get PR and certainly doesn’t entitle you to the same processing time. You could check regularly for updated processing times on https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/application/check-processing-times.html, but these suggested time frames are not accurate, and to a certain extent they could be misleading.
Q: Does it matter if I take the incubator stream, or the Angel stream, or the Venture Capital stream?
A: Yes, it does, but it is not so much the stream itself, but the identity of the Designated Organization delivering the Letter of Support. There is an internal process at Immigration Canada to review applications and make sure that PR is given to investors of real start-ups, who are really investing money in Canada in really innovative businesses. Some designated organizations for example have abused the license they had obtained from Immigration Canada as they supported a lot of Start-ups that for various reasons, would not qualify under the Start-Up Visa program. So, when selecting a service provider to apply under the Start-Up Visa Program, pay attention to the stream you choose and balance the pros and cons.
Q: I got my Letter of support(LOS), does it mean it’s only a question of time for me to get PR?
A: No. Getting a LOS allows you to apply to the Start-Up Visa program, but it does NOT mean you would get PR. There are several reasons which could lead immigration Canada not to give PR to people who have the LOS. There could be reasons linked to the applicant himself (security, medical issues, misrepresentation… etc.), but it could be that the Start-Up itself is not qualified, or that there was misuse of the optional work permit.
Q: I am hesitating if I should take a Work Permit or not: what do you suggest?
A: There are pros and cons to request for a work permit. But if the work permit is requested for the wrong reasons according to Immigration Canada, the PR application will be refused. For this reason, it is very important to assess the reasons why a Founder and/or an Investor would request a Work Permit, and based on these objectives, suggest if the WP is a good option or not. In a nutshell, if the WP is requested for the right reasons, it could be a good idea to request for such Work Permit.
Q: I am a Founder of a Start-Up; can you find investors for me?
A: Yes of course. A lot of Founders have innovative business ideas but are looking for smart money to help grow their business, and/or assistance from incubators, angel investors or VC funds to provide the start-up ecosystem needed for them to succeed in Canada. Matchmaking between Founders and investors is an important part of building a winning team. We all know the saying: “Alone we go faster, but in group we go further”.
At JTH Lawyers we adapt to each client’s profile and offer a tailor-made solution to help them achieve their goals and become a permanent resident or citizen of Canada and their new country.
For more information about the Start-Up Visa Program or other immigration programs, please contact us at email@example.com | Tel: +1 (514) 397 0995 | WhatsApp: +855 (0) 98 6767 82.
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