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Applying for a Start-Up Visa directly?

Discussion in 'Business Immigration' started by itsmelee, May 31, 2019.

  1. Hi everyone,

    I've been accepted into a Canadian incubator for the Start Up Visa, and was wondering if I could get an opinion on ultimately applying directly vs. using the services of an immigration attorney, please.

    From what I can tell on the CIC site, the application for both the Temporary Work Permit and the subsequent 'full' Start Up Visa seems to be quite straightforward, and have been designed for applicants to fill in directly. There's obviously a lot of paperwork to gather, and a lot of details to fill in, but there also seems to be quite a lot of instructional hand-holding. The PDF application form, form example, even has a 'validate' button for checking for obvious goofs prior to submission.

    Given that some attorneys have quoted fees of $30,000 CAD and up (not this firm; I've not yet spoken to Campbell Cohen, so I have no idea what they charge), I'm wondering whether it might be worth instead putting this money to better use in my company. That'd fund a decent advertising budget or almost the first year of rent.

    On the other hand, there may be benefits to using an attorney that I'm not aware of. Does having solid legal representation help applications go faster? Is there anything a lawyer adds to this process that I couldn't just fill in myself? It appears pretty straightforward on the surface. If a lawyer is essentially just going to take my info and parrot it on the official application form, I'd rather save the cash. If a higher approval rating or less stress down the road is likely, then it seems like it might be a worthwhile investment.

    I'm wondering if anyone here has applied directly and has any experience to shared.

    Thanks in advance!
  2. Hi Itsmelee,

    I am also confusing for the role of Attorneys for the large amount of money that they charge.

    By the way can you share how did you approach the incubator? How did they charge? did they ask you to join start up class for few months before giving letter of support?

    Thanks for your kind sharing.
  3. Me too. I'd love to get a definitive response on what an attorney brings to the table. Obviously the same could be said of any profession, but usually it's pretty obvious where skills are being applied. With the Start Up Visa, the process looks straightforward enough for anyone who can read and gather paperwork. Is it possible that having legal representation expedites the process in some way? No idea. Hopefully not, otherwise that would suggest anyone applying directly is at a disadvantage. I can't see why CIC would care whether you've hired an attorney but I'm saying that with no experience at this point. I'd imagine an attorney is most helpful with appeals if someone goes wrong and the gov. reject the app for some reason.

    Re: the incubator - I don't have any real advice, other than to be active and persistent, and pitch a viable idea. I'm in tech and I have two decades of experience to back it up, so that probably helped. I think it helps to be flexible on location. Some of the less metropolitan regions of Canada are naturally hungrier for talent, so you might start there if you're finding your application in some of the most popular regions are being ignored or rejected.

    The cost is usually an upfront fee plus a % stake on your company. After that you'll usually work in office space they provide, and there will be some expectation of following the program and keeping them up dated. I'm literally just starting so I can't speak of much to the experience, other than my willingness to make the very most of it. It's a sizeable investment but with PR status at the end of it and introduction to the local community, I'm confident it'll be worth it. That's another reason I'm curious on whether an attorney is really required... an incubator is typically costly and sometimes has the longer-term cost of taking a cut of your company... if I can fill out a bunch of paperwork myself and save $30K, that's a decent chunk of budget that could be spent on building the company.
  4. #4 Mauchan, Jun 1, 2019 at 6:33 AM
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2019
    Spending money on an attorney will add no value at all. The SUV forms are very straightforward. We applied directly in early 2018, and the entire process of AOR (receipt) to COPR (approval) took less than 5 months.

    Use that money on your business instead. If you have any trouble with the forms or process, post your question here and I will help you.
  5. Thanks so much for chiming in with your experience @Mauchan - it's really great to hear from someone that has actually been through it!

    I just have a couple of questions at this early stage - appreciate your time and any info you may be able to offer to answer them:

    1. This one is more just a curiosity - do you happen to recall what the 'official' processing time was pegged at when you applied? I ask because 5 months seems quick. On the CIC site, it currently estimates 12-16 months. Curious if you just got lucky, or whether times have ramped up lately for some reason.

    2. I'll be applying for a Temporary Work Permit prior to the full PR app. Did you go down this route yourself? Or straight for PR?

    3. Related to that - the 'proof of funds' part seems a bit ambiguous. For the full Start Up Visa app, this page on CIC states a family of 7 (as an example) requires $33,528. The temporary work permit specifically for the Start Up Visa category, states it requires $67,055. It's not clear whether that means $67k initially when opting for the temp permit, and $33k when PR is accepted... or the higher of the two... or whether applying directly for PR and foregoing the temp permit requires only half the cash. Any ideas? This isn't a huge issue, but it'd be nice to get a definitive answer to this to plan accordingly, since interpreting it one way could literally mean twice the capital required.

    4. Again on proof of funds - the official guidance for processing officers suggests that proof may be established by:
    • cash
    • documents that show property or capital payable to the applicant (such as stocks, bonds, debentures, treasury bills, etc.) or
    • documents that guarantee payment of a set amount of money, which are payable to the applicant (such as bankers’ drafts, travellers cheques or money orders).

    It's not clear what this means, exactly. Are they talking about having a cashier's cheque in my own name - ready to pay into a Canadian bank account - at the time of applying for the temporary permit (which could take 8 weeks to be issued and may not be valid by then.)? Or are they expecting I turn up at the border with either the same, or a suitcase of $67k in 'cash'? Or will they accept the more sensible approach of, say, opening a Canadian bank account ahead of time, and wiring the funds in? (The latter being somewhat Catch 22- banks in Canada routinely open accounts remotely when at a minimum a Temporary Work Permit is secured... but getting the permit in the first place means showing Canadian funds as available. Would they take a TransferWise account as proof of funds, for example?)


    It's possible the above Qs could be interpreted as a reason to hire an experienced attorney, but in this case, I think it's just ambiguous because the CIC guidance has been poorly worded and they really ought to qualify why twice as much capital is seemingly required for the 'temporary' phase vs. the permanent one. A start-up is no less risky if it skips the temporary phase and opts straight for permanency -- on the contrary!

    Curious which route you chose to provide proof of funds and whether a temp permit was sought initially?

    Thanks in advance.
  6. #6 Mauchan, Jun 1, 2019 at 8:43 PM
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2019
    Around 14 months. This is IRCC's projected timeline and not based on the history of completed applications. Take this number with a huge grain of salt. I personally know many who have got their SUV application processed with 5-7 months. Some even got theirs in 4.

    I applied directly for PR because the work permit processing timelines are like a roll of dice. Based on what I know, it makes no difference on the overall PR timeline. Some people get the work permit early but delayed PR processing. Others get the work permit in 4-5 months which is followed by swift PR approval.

    Unless there is a very urgent need for a work permit, I would strongly recommend applying for PR directly and wait it out. Here're the disadvantages of a WP:

    1) You have to file paperwork twice.

    2) Once you land, you are constantly worried about your ongoing PR application instead of focusing on work.

    3) Certain benefits in Canada are available only to permanent residents - this includes preferential banking treatment.

    4) The landing interview is a lot more detailed - as compared to landed immigrants.

    5) A lower proof-of-funds threshold if you apply directly for PR - this is related to your next question.

    6) If one of the company directors is not a PR, you won't get the tax breaks for small businesses under the $500k revenue threshold - the (CCPC) Canadian Controlled Private Corporation exemption.

    Correct. If you apply for PR directly, you require only half the cash.

    If you apply for the work permit, then you have to demonstrate that you have the higher amount as indicated in the guideline. When applying for PR later, you do not require the additional (lower) amount separately.

    Any fund which is yours (not borrowed or on lien) and readily accessible is accepted as a proof of liquidity. Instead of the cashier's cheque example you mentioned, let's imagine a term deposit which is set to mature soon and payable to you. This is an acceptable proof - I used this successfully.

    You do not have to open a Canadian account or bring all the cash with you. The location of the money can be in your home country - you can move it once you land and have everything set-up. You do not have to possess a cheque in your name - bank statements authenticated by your local branch will do just fine.

    Not sure why WP's require a higher proof-of-funds threshold. Perhaps, being a PR gets you subsidies other benefits which reduces your cost of living?
    teejax likes this.
  7. Thanks so much for the comprehensive response, @Mauchan -- that's incredibly helpful. I appreciate the time you took to write that up.

    Based on your experience, it sounds like foregoing the temp permit route and opting directly for PR might be the way to go, then.

    The only potential downside I can see at that stage, is the timing with the incubator. After the initial remote phase, it's expected that a move to Canada will happen within the same calendar year. If for some reason PR does wind up taking 16 months, that could mess with the program timing and ultimately lose me a spot. I imagine it's for that reason a temp work permit is a structured part of the program -- if indeed, on average, it's taking 8 weeks to issue them (noting the timing exceptions you mentioned, of course.)

    I don't mind an extra set of forms and another fee, if the 'proof of funds' part is easily solved. The potential tax disadvantage is annoying, although it's likely I'm remain unincorporated until PR is guaranteed and then transition. I'll likely be in a dev cycle for a while yet so might be able to defer that being an issue. Preferential banking treatment -- presumably that benefit is unlocked when PR is finally granted, right? e.g. getting an account whilst on a temp permit won't disqualify from 'new' account privileges later down the road.

    The point about the interview is interesting. I've always found Canadian customs officials to be quite grilling, even just visiting on vacation. Do you know of any particularly negative experiences related to the temp permit interviews? I'd have thought with an approved permit in hand, there wouldn't be a whole lot to address except to explain I've been accepted into an incubator and a PR app is pending. Curious to know what might differ between that and the PR interview.

    It seems there are a few cracks that are easy to fall into. One would think the Start Up Visa would have a well-defined path, and issues like ambiguity over funds required, incorporation/tax advantages not being available to pre-PR candidates, etc would be solved at a government level. It appears to be a little unevenly applied. Still, your experience with the timeframes is encouraging, and the paperwork really doesn't look all that hard, so I guess these are minor inconsistencies to just put up with.
  8. You're welcome, happy to hear that you found the information useful.

    As I said, if there is an urgent need - such as getting a spot with the incubator - it may prove worthwhile to apply for the WP first.

    The landing interview for the PR takes 2 minutes and 3 questions. On a work permit, there might be additional questions and show of documents - like the commitment certificate, term sheet etc etc. Routine stuff.

    Different banks have different terms and conditions - depends on who you're dealing with.

    Even the IRCC finds the SUV process complicated, and that is why they are in the process of outsourcing certain procedures to private contractors. There are a lot of moving parts.
  9. Makes a lot of sense, thanks. I really do appreciate you taking time out to help a stranger - it's so helpful to hear from someone that's actually been through it and can shed some light on the background process.

    It's surprisingly difficult to get anything but vague/one-word answers (or none at all) on the subject from so many other sources. I did actually reach out to an attorney when contemplating going down this path originally a couple of years ago, and was surprised at how clueless they were. They'd completely missed the 2016 minutes that removed the education requirement, and were adamant it was still necessary. Needless to say, it didn't inspire a whole lot of confidence to part with $25-30k in 'professional' fees.

    If/when this process reaches a positive conclusion, I plan on journaling the experience and sharing with others for free, to try and offer a little support to those contemplating moving their livelihoods to another country via this program. Thanks for helping give my own journey a nudge in the right direction!
  10. Dear Fellows ... just have registered. With interests I noticed this thread. Actually I am seeking for general orientation about some basic questions. In advance I thank you for noticing my request and appreciate your supportive advice.

    About my given sand personal situation (and plans to emigrate to CAN which started as a 1st idea in 2008):

    1. I am native German, male and single. - English is not my native language. As I work in international projects since the midds of 90s at least I can speak and write fluently for "daily life (and living)" and business correspondence.

    2. As profession I graduated as captain for commercial sailing ships in Netherlands, where actually I live to work on traditional sailing ships (under Dutch flag) for charter / tourism. I am also cultural journalist and media producer / moderator with radio shows since 2006 for educational programs (in the segment of "music therapy).

    3. I am in different (small) businesses which I run for now as freelancer/self employee. These businesses shall be established newly in CAN (then with employees), as "start ups" in the sectors "education/tourism", "media production" and "health care services".

    4. The Canadian East coast I target at is suitable for me to settle under different aspects. I plan to emigrate to Nova Scotia (around Halifax). This federal state is linked with maritime history and "old Europe" since long, short flight distance to Amsterdam/London/Frankfurt ... and cheap living costs (in comparison with other Canadian Federal states).

    5. I will celebrate in 06/2019 my 55th birthday. (Rec.: I hope this will not be a big hurdle or too late, even make it impossible to apply for Canadian citizenship.)

    I did online my English test successfully. As I stay for now (during summer season) in Netherlands I would thank you for getting orientation about following questions:

    (A) Where to apply for start-up Visa programs (linked with the federal state Nova Scotia) ? - Does it need a personal presence in CAN first, or can all pre-plannings/preparations be done from Europe (via Internet) ?

    (B) Do I need to present a business plan in advance to a Canadian jury which will be proven first before I set a foot onto Canadian ground ? - Is the start-up visa program restricted to specific branches (of industries) ? - Or am I free to establish new businesses in the branches of tourism/education/health care (as described upper under pos. 3.)

    (C) Does it need a minimum investment sum - as own capital - to be accepted as entrepreneur ? - Or can it be financed with "risk capital" (by Canadian private/public investors) ? - Does it need a minimum number of employees (new working places) to be created by the business plan for being funded ?

    (D) Do exist specific funding programs for entrepreneurs who immigrate from Europe ? E.g. Trans-Atlantic collaboration programs between Europe (Germany/Netherlands) and Canada.

    Maybe I have missed some items for now. If you like to give a hint to other aspects, feel free to do so. I appreciate any critics and feedback. Tks in advance giving attention to.

    Warm regards
    Cpt. JR
  11. Hi @itsmelee and @Mauchan

    I am glad I came across this thread.

    Let me first concur with you both that the SUV application process is very complicated that even IRCC can't respond to enquiry except with general responses.

    I will address few of your concerns @itsmelee

    As for proof of funds, there's a different in proof of funds for EE and SUV because it's believed that a startup will take a while to make money and since the applicant can't work elsewhere he will need extra income plus it will also cover startup costs.

    As for me, I have been accepted by an incubator and issued a letter of support after a rigorous process and paying the fees for the first 3 months.

    It is imperative I arrive in Canada as early as possible to be able to setup the business and meet up with the requirements in the agreement.

    Therefore, I will need to apply for a SUV Work Permit since its faster to process i.e. 2 weeks priority processing online

    I have paid the Employer Compliance fee and followed all the instructions here: https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/immigrate-canada/start-visa/work-permits.html

    Unfortunately, instead of the result to state "Foreign Worker - International Mobility Program" I kept getting "Foreign Work Permit" and this makes the process the usual work permit. The option to apply on paper is slow and most of the requirements are not applicable.

    @itsmelee I will suggest you shouldn't use an attorney to save money. Moreso, there's nothing special he/she will add to your application.

    As for me, I intend applying for PR immediately I am done applying for work permit.

    What's the current state of your application @itsmelee ?
  12. I've just been issued a Letter of Support, and am in the process of submitting my work permit app.

    Like you @teejax, the incubator I'm working with requires a temp permit first, before applying for PR. That's to get moved over as quickly as possible, and to get established. I'm able to apply for PR in parallel (as a separate app), so that clock can be ticking down while I'm already over and building the company.

    Outside of the visa, I've already incorporated a Canadian company, have an accountant and banking contacts -- so I'm pretty much good to go as soon as I land.

    Fingers crossed the temp permit comes through quickly. I believe the app is generally treated as more urgent than a 'regular' work permit, but I'll keep this thread appraised of timelines. Hopefully it'll be before the year's up.

  13. Good to read from you @itsmelee

    How do you intend to apply for your work permit?

    Online or on paper?

    Let me also know the result you get when you follow the instructions in the link I shared above.

    All the best.
  14. It's a consular application, so I guess it's paper. I'm actually working with a consultant that my incubator provided, so I didn't have to pay the exorbitant fees of an attorney and I get a bit more hand-holding than going it alone.
  15. Great @itsmelee

    Please keep us updated once you submit your application.

    I will also do the same, although I am pursuing the online application.

    Few documents left and I am good to go.

    All the best!

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