The Start-Up Visa Program: Entrepreneur immigration to Canada

The Start-up Visa Program of Canada enables international business owners and their families to seek for permanent residence status, which aids immigrant entrepreneurs in starting up firms in Canada.

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Foreign entrepreneurs who have applied for the Start-up Visa Program are qualified for a temporary work permit that enables them to go to Canada to begin their business while they wait for their permanent residence.

The Start-up Visa Program has welcomed hundreds of immigrant business entrepreneurs to Canada since it began as a pilot program in 2013, and the number of admissions is rising yearly. The program became a permanent choice for foreign businesses looking to settle in Canada in 2017.

The Start-up Visa Program has welcomed hundreds of immigrant business entrepreneurs to Canada since it began as a pilot program in 2013, and the number of admissions is rising yearly. The program became a permanent choice for foreign businesses looking to settle in Canada in 2017.

The Start-up Visa Program is one of many immigration efforts created to aid talented foreign workers in finding a place in the Canadian workforce as the Canadian economy continues to experience a sustained period of expansion.

Start-up Visa for international businesspeople

The Start-up Visa Program is perfect for business owners who already have a profitable enterprise and are looking for investors. Applicants must have already established their businesses and obtained commitment from a qualified Canadian business investment organization or incubator in order to be eligible to apply for the Start-up Visa Program.

How to get eligible for a start-up visa


Entrepreneurial applicants must fulfill four major criteria before they can submit a start-up visa application.

Own a legitimate business

Entrepreneur applicants must have established a business in which each immigrant has at least ten percent of the voting rights connected to all of the corporation’s shares in order for it to be deemed a qualifying enterprise. Together, up to five new applicants may apply as owners. Additionally, more than half of the total voting rights must be held jointly by the applicants and the designated organization.

Through the Start-up Visa Program, applicants who want to obtain permanent residency must make sure that their company is formed in Canada and that the foreign entrepreneurs actively manage its core operations there.

Obtain a pledge from a designated entity.


Foreign business owners must obtain the backing of a designated organization that will aid in the growth of their venture in Canada before submitting an application to the Start-up Visa Program.

The aforementioned lists can be used by interested candidates to discover possible partners for their business endeavor. A Letter of Support that is part of the application is required to show the dedication of a chosen organization. From the date of issuance, letters of support are valid for six months.

Demonstrate proficiency in French or English

All candidates for the Start-up Visa Program must exhibit fluency in either English or French, the official languages of Canada. Candidates must demonstrate proficiency at Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) Level 5 or higher in order to be accepted into the program. When applying, the test results must be no older than two years.

Currently, the following test providers’ English test scores are accepted by Canadian immigration authorities:

  • (General test) IELTS
  • (General test) CELPIP

You may also submit test results from either of these two French exams:

  • TEF
  • TCF

Comply with the IRCC’s proof-of-funds demand

Interested candidates must demonstrate that they have the financial resources to support their family’s relocation to Canada. To accomplish this, candidates must demonstrate that they satisfy the IRCC’s criterion for verification of financial support sources:

Number of family membersRequired funds (in CAD)
1$12,669 CAD
2$15,772 CAD
3$19,390 CAD
4$23,542 CAD
5$26,701 CAD
6$30,114 CAD
7$33,528 CAD
For each additional family memberAdd $3,414 CAD
Required funds (in CAD)

Do you wish to obtain your Quebec startup visa?

Sadly, Quebec does not accept applicants for the federal Start-up Visa Program. The Quebec Entrepreneur and Quebec Investor programs are available to entrepreneurs who want to immigrate to Quebec.

How to Apply for a Start-Up Visa

If a foreign businessperson qualifies for the Start-up Visa Program, they must prepare and send in an application via mail or online.

The documents needed for the Start-up Visa Program application must show that the applicant satisfies all four of the program’s key requirements. Significant supporting evidence is furthermore required to show the principal applicant’s and accompanying family members’ eligibility for immigration to Canada. In order to confirm that an application is not medically or criminally inadmissible, this includes medical examinations and police certificates. Additionally, many applicants will need to provide their biometrics as well as certified translations of any documents they submit that aren’t in either English or French.

For the Start-up Visa Program, the application fee is CAD $1,625 for the main plus a $515 right of permanent residence charge, $850 for the accompanying spouse/common-law partner plus a $515 right of permanent residence fee, and $230 for each dependent kid.

The IRCC’s Centralized Intake Office in Sydney, Nova Scotia, must receive all paper copies of the application, which must be sent there in one envelope by mail or courier.

Usually, applications are handled in between 12 and 16 months. However, before their application for permanent residence is approved, candidates can submit an application for a temporary work visa, allowing them to start working in Canada.

The primary applicant and all accompanying family members will be granted permanent resident status in Canada if an application is approved.

Canadian investors can obtain a startup visa.


New applications from Canadian groups seeking to assist immigrant entrepreneurs in starting up their businesses in Canada are now being accepted under the Start-up Visa Program. Three categories of organizations are accepted under the Start-up Visa Program: angel investor clubs, company incubators, and venture capital funds. (The preceding list of organizations is comprehensive.)

An organization must first receive IRCC designation in order to take part in the program. An organization must belong to and be recommended by one of the IRCC’s partner industry groups in order to be designated:

  • Making suggestions for venture capital funds is the Canadian Venture Capital & Private Equity Association (CVCA).
  • Angel investor clubs and company incubators are advised by the National Angel Capital Organization (NACO).

An organization will show up on the IRCC’s list of recognized employers once it has been designated.

There is no standard approach for finding immigrant entrepreneurs, thus it is expected that each group will come up with its own way. The following investment is necessary to sustain an immigrant entrepreneur:

  • Minimum investment for angel investors is CAD $75,000.
  • Minimum investment required for venture capital funds is $200,000 CAD.
  • Enterprise incubators: The immigrant entrepreneur does not need to make a financial commitment, but they must be approved for the business incubator program.

The selected organization is required to provide a letter of support as part of the foreign entrepreneur’s Start-up Visa application, reaffirming their dedication to the entrepreneur and the program.

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