Designated organizations for the Start-up Visa Program: Peer review process

Peer review process

Once we receive the application, we make sure the applicant has filled out the correct forms, paid the correct fees and included all required documents.

If we need more information about the commitment you’ve made, we may request a peer review.

What happens during a peer review

The goal of the peer review process is to make sure that your activities and those of the applicant are in line with industry standards and to protect against fraud.

In the case of a peer review:

  • we’ll let the applicant know that their case is being sent for a peer review
  • your industry association will assemble a panel of experts to conduct the review
  • we won’t disclose the identity of peer review panelists to you or the applicant

The panel of experts will assess the following:

  • the level of due diligence that was performed by the designated entity and whether it is consistent with industry standards
  • the terms of the commitment (including the investment made by the designated organization, the services to be provided by the designated organization and any fees to be charged to the applicants) and whether these terms are consistent with industry standards

The panel of experts will also:

  • ensure that the business has been or will be incorporated in Canada
  • ensure that the business ownership has been verified and meets the requirements of the Start-up Visa Program
  • ensure that the designated organization
    • considered the viability of the proposed business model
    • assessed the business venture’s management team and
    • verified the ownership of the intellectual property
  • ensure the focus of the business is on a high-growth potential product and/or service
  • validate whether the business was accepted into a business incubator program (in cases where the commitment was issued by a designated business incubator)

If the peer review identifies concerns with the commitment, we may send a procedural fairness letter to the applicant to:

  • inform them of the concerns
  • request further documentation to address the concerns
  • make it clear that if the applicant is unable to address the concerns, the application may be refused

The findings of the peer review panel are assessed with the rest of the information presented in the application to make a final decision on the case.

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