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How To Apply For Canada’s Start-Up Visa From Hong Kong

The program targets innovative entrepreneurs and links them with private sector investors in Canada who will help establish their start-up businesses.

The government of Canada in the light of the clampdown from the Chinese government on the former British protectorate of Hong Kong created and began an entry pathway into Canada through its startup visa program for residents of Hong Kong.

This began in 2018, as regards the Chinese government’s Nationality law which declares that all dual citizenship holders of Hong Kong must renounce one of their citizenship in favor of China.

And its subsequent persecution by local authorities on pro-democracy activists within Hong Kong.

This program, therefore, is expected to make Hong Kong immigrants become Canadian permanent residents if they qualify as immigrant entrepreneurs.

This private-sector investment startup program is of three factions, these are:

  • Angel investors
  • Venture capital funds
  • Business incubators

However, for the business or startup to be eligible under this program; it must gain the support of a designated venture capital fund which must also confirm that it is investing at least $200,000 into the qualifying business.

About Canada’s Start-up Visa Program

This program is officially known as the Canada Start-Up Class. However, it is often referred to as the Start-Up Visa program (SUV).

The program targets innovative entrepreneurs and links them with private sector investors in Canada who will help establish their start-up businesses.

Important Requirement for Canada’s Start-up Visa Program

A very key requirement to the Canadian Startup Scheme is the Designated Organization.

As a Startup immigrant, in other, for you to obtain a pass in this program, you must be able to secure the investment of a designated organization.

Canada’s government authorized designated organizations, including the following;

Having the backing and support of a member of one of these groups is a very important criterion that will assure you a place in the startup visa program.

Otherwise, you may not be grant access to obtain the visa.

Start-up visa requirements for citizens of Hong Kong are the same across boards for all other foreign citizens.

The pathway makes sure that any international personnel who is an entrepreneur, a business owner, or a startup can become a permanent resident of Canada by meeting the criteria.

This pathway nevertheless, has become quite popular amongst Hong Kong citizens, as it is described to be consistently quick, both for the initial work permit and permit residence application.

Start-Up Visa Stats for Hong Kong Citizens

In the year 2018, when this program kick-off, figures from the Immigration, Refugees and Citizens Canada (IRCC) reveals that the startup entrepreneurship pathway made 20 Hong Kong citizens become permanent residents of Canada

In 2019, there was an addition to the number through the Start-Up Visa Program which consequently allowed 25 Hong Kong residents to become new permanent Canadian residents.

Notwithstanding the impact of the covid – 19 pandemic on global immigration, statistics also show that as of the first six months of last year (2020), the most recent period for which figures were collected, at least 20 Hong Kong residents have made the move to immigrate to Canada under the Start-Up Visa Program.

Also, on a general scale, the Start-Up Visa program has been growing steadily in popularity since its introduction to the immigration program pool of Canada.

In 2019, it is recorded that the total number of new permanent residents approved and admitted was up to 510, this is more than double the 250 immigrants who were welcomed in 2018.

Basic Eligibility Requirements for the Start-Up Visa Application

In other, for you to qualify for the startup visa you must meet the eligibility criteria as stipulated by the Canadian government. These include the following:

  • You must have or run a qualifying business.
  • You must provide a commitment certificate and a letter of support from a designated entity.
  • You must be able to show that you have sufficient, available, and transferable settlement funds to meet settlement funding, and lastly
  • You must show proof of proficiency in English or French at the minimum Canadian Language Benchmark level 5.  

Nevertheless, this minimum language proficiency may often not suffice for designated organizations as their requirement are usually more strident.

Thus, higher levels of English are often needed to meet due diligence requirements by the designated entities.

It is nonetheless, necessary to note that if you are applying under the Start-Up Visa program you can actually be in Canada on a work permit which must have been supported by your designated Canadian investor before your application for permanent residence is approved.

To be qualified for the Startup Visa, you must be able to show that you have the required funding and initial financing to enable you and your dependents if any settle adequately in Canada before your business kicks off.

This is so because the government of Canada does not provide settlement funding for foreign immigrants who intends to settle in Canada.

Required Settlement Funds Needed Under The Start-Up Visa Program

Number of family members Funds required
1 $12,960
2 $16,135
3 $19,836
4 $24,083
5 $27,315
6 $30,806
7 $34,299
* Each additional family member $3,492

Importance of Financing for the Start-Up Visa Program

Your availability of financing and source is an important criterion to acquiring the Startup visa.

Therefore, you must obtain and show that you have the required financial support for a designated organization.

Further Business Instituted Criteria

Even though your startup or business idea may be of great fit, as an immigrant entrepreneur you can only expect that your application will take up to four to six months before you will secure a commitment certificate or letter of support from a designated financing organization.

Note that it is until this letter of support is received before you can submit your letter of application for permanent residence.

Thereafter, It will often take at most 18-months for the application to be finalized before there an issuance of a permanent residence visa. 

For you as an intending startup immigrant to qualify for permanent residence:

  • • It must be found that your intended business is incorporated and will be carrying on business in Canada.
  • • That as the applying candidate, you should own at least 10 percent of the voting rights in the corporation.
  • • Lastly, as per laws and regulations, no other person can hold up to 50 percent or more of the voting rights in the corporation.

New Open Work Permits and Permanent Residence for Hong Kong Citizens

As of February 18th, 2021, Canada rolled out another program for Hong Kong residents, which it announced through the minister of the IRCC.

This new immigration pathway as announced by Minister Marco Mendicino of the IRCC, as a Hong Kong to Canada fast-track immigration pathway is a welcomed initiative he said; he also stated that the pathway has been designed to attract young, talented, and experienced graduates from Hong Kong whose contribution will no doubt help to further drive Canada’s economy forward.

These new and flexible open work permits will help to fast-track you to permanent residency status. As a skilled and experienced resident from Hong Kong looking to settle in Canada, you will have a golden opportunity to develop your career as you in turn also help to accelerate Canada’s economy.

If you a resident of Hong Kong that has graduated with a Canadian post-secondary diploma or degree in the last five years or holds an equivalent foreign credential, you are eligible to apply for the new open work permits which last up to three years.

It is worthy of note though that your qualifying post-secondary diploma program or degree certificate must have been acquired for a minimum of two years.

Note: As a Hong Kong resident currently residing in Canada temporarily, either as a visitor, a student, or a worker, you can also apply online from within Canada.

Two New Pathways to Permanent Residency

These new pathways for Hong Kong residents are in response by the Canadian government are in response to the continued clampdown on pro-democracy in Hong Kong by the Chinese government, and also due to the persecution faced by dual citizen residents of Hong Kong.

These pathways cover both the spouses, partners, and dependent children of eligible applicants.

  • The first pathway targets former Hong Kong residents.
    • If you have a minimum of one year of work experience in Canada and you meet the minimum language and education criteria, you are eligible to apply.
  • The second pathway is for graduates.
    • If you hold a post-secondary diploma or degree from any institution in Canada, you have automatic eligibility to apply directly for permanent residence.

Also, you should be aware that the government of Canada has committed itself to the processing of work and study permits for eligible young people from Hong Kong and it has also exempted Hong Kong citizens from the 12-month bar on pre-removal risk assessments.

This means that if you are a Hong Kong residents who were previously not eligible to apply, you may now get another chance, with an updated assessment that will be conducted, it will be determined whether you can stay in Canada or not.

Note: If you are applying from abroad, which is outside of Canada, you will remain subject to current travel restrictions, therefore, you may not be able to come to Canada at this time.

Nevertheless, if you have a job offer or possess a travel exemption and most importantly, you must comply with all public health requirements.