What is SUV?
SUV or Start-Up Visa Program is a federal immigration program created by the Canadian government for immigrant entrepreneurs who want to start and grow a business in Canada. The successful SUV applicants will then be granted Canadian permanent residence.
The purpose of this initiative is to encourage entrepreneurs around the world to move to Canada to start a business, create new jobs, boost innovation and drive economic growth.
Requirements / Eligibility
To be eligible for the Start-Up Visa Program, the applicants must meet all the following requirements:
- Have an innovative business along with qualifying ownership.
- Have a letter of support from a designated organization to show validation.
- Meet minimum language fluency requirements in English or French.
- Have sufficient funds to settle in Canada.
Other than 4 SUV-specific requirements listed above, applicants must also meet the general admissibility requirements that cover these aspects:
- Family members
- Work experience
- Income and/or net worth
- Canadian security and medical clearances
Let’s dive into the SUV-specific requirements.
1. A qualifying startup business
Before you apply, make sure that you have a business that:
- is innovative
- can create new jobs for Canadians
- can compete at a global scale
- is a Canadian company or will be incorporated as a Canadian company
- will put an essential part of the operation in Canada, and the applicants will actively manage it from within Canada.
Even though these requirements are quite subtle, your job is to convince Canada Government that it’s worth supporting. The business is not necessarily market-ready, it can be just an idea. But given the current competitiveness of the SUV program and the permanent residence attached to it, it’s recommended to have some concrete number to back up for your idea.
The Canadian government doesn’t work directly with you on this verification process but delegates it to their designated organizations. And the letter of support explained below is the final result that decides which business is qualified and which is not. It is proof that they will support your business idea. So if you want to apply for SUV, have a clear, bold business plan, and ready to pitch.
Apart from that, you also have to meet the ownership requirement that:
- each applicant must hold at least 10% of the voting rights attached to the shares of the business.
- up to 5 applicants can apply for permanent residence under the same startup business.
- the total shares held by the applicants and the designated organization have to be more than 50% of the business.
2. A letter of support from a designated organization
As stated above, you have to get an official letter from a designated organization to prove that your business is qualified for SUV.
The designated organizations can be categorized into three groups:
- Venture capital funds
- Angel investor groups
- Startup incubator
And you have three corresponding ways to get a support letter:
- Receive investment from a designated venture capital fund with an amount of $200,000 and above
- Receive investment from a designated angel investor group with an amount of $75,000 and above
- Or get accepted to a startup business accelerator/business incubator.
3. Language requirements
English and French are the two official languages of Canada. So the ability to communicate effectively in either English or French will determine how well your life can be integrated here. So if you want to immigrate to Canada, you have to be fluent in at least one of these two languages.
Your language skills can only be proved by a test result issued by an agency that is approved by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). These designated language testing agencies are:
- CELPIP G-Test:
- Paragon Testing Enterprises Inc.
- Cambridge Assessment of English
- IDP Australia, and
- The British Council
- TEF Canada:
- The Paris Chamber of Commerce and Industry
- TCF Canada:
- Le Centre international d’études pédagogiques
For the SUV program, you have to reach Canadian Language Benchmark 5 in listening, reading, writing and speaking.
Of you have a test result other than CLB, you can convert your language test results into CLB levels here.
4. Sufficient Funds
The Government of Canada will not give financial support to new start-up visa immigrants, so you have to prove that you have enough funds to support yourself and your family if you bring them along. The fund must be yours, not to be borrowed from anyone else.
A minimum amount of funds will be required by IRCC to make sure it’s sufficient for you to settle in Canada. This number will be recalculated and updated every year pending on the then-current living standard.
- If you come to Canada alone, the minimum funds required will be around $13,000.
- If you bring your family to come with you, the funds you need will be higher depending on the size of your family.
Here are the detailed numbers:
1 person: $12,669 CAD
2 persons: $15,772 CAD
3 persons: $19,390 CAD
4 persons: $23,542 CAD
5 persons: $26,701 CAD
6 persons: $30,114 CAD
7 persons: $33,528 CAD
For each additional family member $3,414 CAD
These numbers are just the minimum required amount of funds, but it’s recommended to prepare more.
You can find the updated numbers from the IRCC website.
Application process / How to apply?
Here is a simple checklist of what needs to be done:
- First and foremost, have a business that qualifies
- Obtain a letter of support from the designated organization.
- Gather required documents
- Pay the fees
- Submit your application to IRCC and wait for the result
- If everything is ok, you will receive your Start-Up visa can come to Canada.
1. The business
As mentioned above, the business has to show great potential. Here is the break down of how a good business looks like:
- New knowledge-based product and/or service – The business proposition must be a unique technology product and/or service that cannot be easily duplicated. Besides, the business must be past the idea stage and have a working prototype. The entrepreneur must demonstrate early technology validation and/or customer traction.
- Canada-based – The head office is located in Canada and the business is registered in Canada, or you have a plan to do so.
- Start-up business venture – the business has generated cumulative sales revenue of less than $1 million in the most recent three years.
- People – Industry knowledge and management experience, commitment to the venture
- Market – Large, growing international market
- Competition – High barrier to competitive entry
- Execution – Credible plan to reach key milestones
If your business has all of the above, you are good to go.
2. Letter of support
You have to contact a designated organization and convince the organization to support your business by showing the potential with a solid business plan. This normally involves a lot of pitching and interviews, as well due diligence. Here is the step to step process:
- Find a designated organization. The full list of designated organizations can be found here.
- Find out how to get support from the designated organization. Each designated organization has its own program that the SUV is integrated in. Normally, there will be information about SUV on their website and how to apply.
- See if you meet the criteria and submit the Express of Interest forms, or contact them directly. It depends on how they would like applicants to apply.
- If eligible, the designated organization will get back to will enquiring more information about you and your business. You will have to work with them back and forth for a relatively long time to pitch your business and get the due diligence done.
- If everything goes well, the designated organization provides you with a letter of support.
3. Gather required documents
It’s recommended to start preparing other required documents while waiting for the support letter to be issued. This will save you a lot of time later on and speed up your application processing a little.
Here is the checklist of what to prepare for the application package:
- Generic Application Form to Canada
- Additional Dependants/Declaration (if applicable)
- Schedule A: Background/Declaration
- Supplementary Information – Your Travels
- Schedule 13 – Business Immigration Programs – Start-Up Business Class
- Additional Family Information
- Use of a Representative
- Travel documents and passports
- Proof of language proficiency. IELTS certificate: general training, original, less than 2 years.
- Letter of Support – Valid up to 6 months
- Identity and Civil Documents
- Children’s Information (if applicable)
- Police Certificates and Clearances
- Photo Requirements
- Receipt of Fee Payment
- Settlement Funds
4. Pay the fees
In most cases, your fees will include:
- processing fees for you and anyone you include on your application
- the Right of Permanent Residence Fee (RPRF)
- third-party fees
You have to pay your fees online. Pay it here.
5. Mail your application to IRCC
Put everything into one envelop and send it to IRCC’s office at the address below:
By regular mail:
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada
Centralized Intake Office – Start-Up Business Class
P.O. BOX 8700
Sydney, NS B1P 0G2
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada
Centralized Intake Office – Start-Up Business Class
49 Dorchester Street
Sydney, NS B1P 5Z2
6. Almost there!
That’s it. Now keep working on your awesome business and wait for the result from IRCC.
These costs might arise when you apply for SUV:
- Right of permanent residence fee: $490
- Your application processing fee: $1,540
- If your application includes your spouse or partner: $1,040
- If your application includes dependent children: $150 per child.
- Biometrics fee: $85
- Biometrics fee for your family of 2 or more: $170
- Medical exams fees
- Police certificate fees
- Language testing fees
- Service fees from immigration lawyer if you hire one.
How long would it take?
Currently, the processing time varies from 12 to 16 months. You may need to give biometrics with your application. This processing time includes the time you need to give your biometrics.
You may be able to avoid delays by:
- telling the visa office about any changes to your personal information, such as your address, telephone number or email, or the birth of a child and
- not contacting the visa office more than once about the same issue
Your application will be delayed if:
- there are criminal or security problems or we need to do more background checks
- your family situation is not clear—reasons could include divorce or adoption that is not yet complete or child custody issues that have not been resolved or
- the visa office has to contact other visa offices in Canada or abroad to verify the data you gave
What to do next?
Since the processing time is quite long, it might affect your execution plan with the business activities that need to be carried on in Canada. There’s one way you can shorten the waiting time and arrive in Canada before receiving your Start-Up Visa using the temporary work permits.
Details on how to apply for the temporary work permit can be found here.