Work Permit for Start-up Visa Applicants in Canada (IMP A77)

A77 work permit

Mi-Young Kim is an entrepreneur from South Korea who is an expert on renewable energy tech. She has applied for immigration to Canada under the Start-up Visa Program. Now, she wants to get a work permit under the International Mobility Program A77. This permit will allow her to grow her business in Canada. Mi-Young is looking into her eligibility and the documents needed for her application.

A brief introduction to the Start-up Visa (SUV) program

The Start-up Visa (SUV) program offers a unique pathway to permanent residency for innovative entrepreneurs from around the globe. It is designed to attract individuals with the skills and potential to build innovative businesses in Canada, create jobs for Canadians, and compete globally. Successful applicants link with Canadian private sector organizations with experience working with start-ups, providing them with essential resources. As these entrepreneurs set their sights on Canada’s market, the SUV program stands as a beacon, inviting fresh ideas and entrepreneurial spirit into the Canadian economy. However, the current processing time for these applications exceeds three years for most applicants. Consequently, IRCC issues work permits for some applicants to travel to Canada and start their business as quickly as possible.

Essential vs. non-essential members

An application under the Start-up Visa program can include up to five applicants, all of whom could apply for permanent residency. These individuals can be a mix of essential and non-essential members of the founding entrepreneurial team. However, essential members are indispensable to the business, having central roles and responsibilities. Non-essential members, though not critical to the endorsement, still hold significant positions and are integral to the business operations. Moreover, both types of members must secure an endorsement from a designated organization and fulfill the program’s criteria to be eligible for the Start-up Visa PR.

Non-essential members are eligible for the Start-up Visa but not for A77 work permits. A77 work permits are exclusively for essential members who play pivotal roles in the business. If a critical member’s PR application faces refusal or withdrawal, it will also lead to the refusal of non-essential members’ applications. Consequently, the success of non-essential members depends on the status of essential members within the program.

It is noteworthy that in June 2023, the Minister announced the following improvements to the start-up work permits. However, they have not implemented most of those changes when writing this article (i.e., November 7, 2023).

What is the IMP A77 work permit?

The IMP A77 work permit caters to foreign nationals planning to start a business in Canada while their permanent residency under the start-up business class is pending. This employer-specific permit operates under the guidelines that value contributions to Canada’s economy, society, or culture.

Paragraph 205(a) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR) is behind the A77 code. This code helps identify foreign nationals whose business activities will likely benefit Canadian citizens or permanent residents significantly. To qualify, applicants must show that their proposed business will bring substantial economic or social advantages to Canada.

When reviewing A77 applications, officers must verify that the business meets all requirements of section R200 of the IRPR. This includes confirming the business’s viability and its proposed value. IRCC employees, not border services officers, handle this process, as these applications are not processed at ports of entry. They must be in line with the general processing guidelines of the International Mobility Program.

Eligibility requirements for SUV work permits under A77.

To qualify for this work permit, you must meet all the following criteria.

  • A commitment certificate from a designated entity stating the applicant is essential and explaining why the applicant needs to be in Canada before getting permanent residence.
  • Must have a pending permanent residence application in the start-up business class, submitted while the commitment certificate was valid.
  • If part of an investor group, all essential members must have pending permanent residence applications.
  • Must plan to live outside Quebec.
  • Must possess enough funds to support themselves and their family at the low-income cut-off (LICO) level for at least one year.
  • Must meet the necessary language requirements, generally a level 5 in all areas according to the Canadian Language Benchmarks or Niveaux de compétence linguistique canadiens.
  • Must have an employment offer as an entrepreneur and have paid the employer compliance fee.
  • Must apply for their work permit online before coming to Canada or from within if they meet the requirements.
  • Applications at a port of entry are not available for this category.

Note: The commitment certificate must be valid when applying for a work permit or permanent residence. If it expires before the permanent residence application, the applicant doesn’t qualify as an essential member for entry into Canada before obtaining permanent residence in the start-up business class.

Documentary evidence for Start-up Visa work permits

When applying for an A77 work permit, include all necessary documents. Of course, you must follow the guidelines of the official checklist. However, the following list could assist you in having an idea about the kind of documents IRCC expects.

  • A valid Start-up Business Class Commitment Certificate – Letter of Support (IMM 5766) confirming the applicant’s essential role and stating the urgent business need for their early entry into Canada.
  • Proof of submitted Permanent Residence application in the Start-up Business Class, such as:
    • Acknowledgment of receipt or tracking receipt/number and proof of application fee payment before September 23, 2022.
    • Email confirmation of online submission and proof of application fee payment after September 23, 2022.
  • If part of a team, evidence that all essential members have applied for Permanent Residence.
  • Language test results.
  • An employment offer number from the Employer Portal or the IMM 5802 form with proof of employer compliance fee payment, if applicable.
  • Proof of sufficient funds for business activities and to support the family at the LICO level for one year.
  • Evidence of the education and work experience necessary to perform the work.

Proof of funds for work permits under A77.

For the Start-up Business Class work permit, applicants must consider two distinct types of funds: support funds and investment funds.

Support Funds:

Applicants need to demonstrate that they have transferable, available funds not tied up in the investment made into their business. These funds should be free from debts or other obligations and must match the LICO for their family size for at least 52 weeks.

Proof of Support Funds:

Proof can include:

  • Cash or bank deposits accessible in Canada
  • Financial instruments like stocks, bonds, debentures, treasury bills, etc. that are transferable and available
  • Guaranteed financial instruments payable to the applicant, such as bank drafts, traveller’s cheques, or money orders

The required amount is based on family size, with annual updates to the LICO table to reflect changes.

Investment Funds:

Applicants must show that their investment funds are available, transferable, and not encumbered by debts. Officers will focus on the liquidity of these funds rather than the amount. Moreover, applicants should be ready to provide evidence of the origin of these investment funds.

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    Al Parsai

    This article has been expertly crafted by Al Parsai, a distinguished Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (L3 RCIC-IRB – Unrestricted Practice) hailing from vibrant Toronto, Canada. Al's academic achievements include an esteemed role as an adjunct professor at prestigious Queen's University Law School and Ashton College, as well as a Master of Laws (LLM) degree from York University. A respected member of CICC and CAPIC organizations, Al's insights are further enriched by his experience as the dynamic CEO of Parsai Immigration Services. Guiding thousands of applicants from over 55 countries through the immigration process since 2011, Al's articles offer a wealth of invaluable knowledge for readers.