Find out what it takes to be eligible for Canadian immigration and begin your clear path to Canada

Contact Us

Start-Up Visa Program: Immigrate to Canada by Starting a Business

The Start-Up Visa Program grants permanent residency of Canada to entrepreneurs looking to relocate to Canada through investment immigration.

The program encourages entrepreneur immigrants to create companies in Canada. Successful applicants are expected to work with private sector organizations in Canada, where they can receive funding, guidance and expertise in opening and operating their own enterprise in Canada.

While waiting for their permanent residence, foreign entrepreneurs who have applied for a Start-Up Visa in Canada are eligible for a temporary work permit, allowing the immigrants to travel to Canada to launch and operate the business.

Eligibility Requirements for Start-Up Visa Program

The purpose of this Start-Up Visa Program is to attract innovative foreign national entrepreneurs who will create new employment opportunities and drive economic growth in Canada.

In order to be eligible, applicants of the Start-Up Visa Program must meet the following requirements:

  • Meet minimum language requirements in English or French (CLB 5 in all abilities);
  • Have sufficient funds to settle in Canada;
  • Plan to settle in a province in Canada other than the Province of Quebec;
  • Pass Canadian security and medical clearances;
  • Prove your business plan is supported through a designated organization in Canada;
  • Demonstrate your business meets ownership requirements.
Proof of Funds Requirement for Start-Up Visa Program

Interested applicants must show that they have enough money to support settlement in Canada for themselves and their family members. To do this, applicants must show that they meet IRCC’s proof of means of financial support requirement:

Number of Family Members Funds Required (CAD)
1 12,669
2 15,772
3 19,390
4 23,542
5 26,701
6 30,114
7 33,528
For each additional family member 3,414

(Updated by Nov, 2019)

Investment Details

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has authorized several venture capital funds, angel investor groups, and business incubator organizations to participate in the Start-Up Visa program.

Successful applicants are required to secure a minimum investment for their Canadian start-up. If the applicant works with a designated Canadian venture capital fund, the investment must be at least CAD $200,000. If the application works with an angel investor group, it should be at least CAD $75,000.

Applicants do not need to secure any investment from a business incubator. However, applicants must be accepted into a Canadian business incubator program.

Applicants are not required to invest any of their own funds. If their start-up in Canada is unsuccessful, individuals granted permanent residency through this program will retain their permanent resident status.

Evidence of Commitment

In order to demonstrate that the applicant has obtained support from either a venture capital fund, an angel investor group, or a business incubator, the investor organization must submit a completed Commitment Certificate directly to IRCC. This document contains information regarding the agreement between the immigration applicant and the investment organization. The purpose of Commitment Certificate is to summarize the relevant details of the commitment between the investment organization and the applicant.

In addition, the applicant will receive a letter of support from the investment organization, which the applicant will need to submit with their application for permanent residence of Canada. If there are two or more immigration applicants as part of the same business venture, the commitment by the investment organization can be conditional upon one or more “essential persons” receiving their permanent residence of Canada. An “essential person” is the one who has been specifically identified as essential to the business by the investment organization. If for any reason the application of an essential person is refused, the applications of all others included in the Commitment Certificate will also be refused.

Support from Multiple Organizations

Applicants who are immigrating to Canada through the Start-Up Visa Program may receive support from multiple designated organizations, known as syndication. In this situation, all entities involved must be identified. Together, the designated organizations will provide IRCC with a single Commitment Certificate and one Letter of Support will be provided to the applicant(s).

As soon as a designated venture capital firm invests in a business, the minimum total investment amount that must be invested in that business is CAD $200,000, even if a designated angel group also invests in the same business.

If the business receives support from at least one designated angel group, but not designated venture capital groups, the minimum total investment amount that must be invested in the applicant’s start-up business is CAD $75,000.

Peer Review Process

In order to protect this pilot program against fraud, a peer review process has been included in the application process of Canada’s Start-Up Visa Program. The peer review process is designed to make sure that the deals made between the investment organizations and foreign national entrepreneurs are legitimate. An immigration officer may ask for a commitment to be independently assessed by a peer review panel. These panels have been established by an industry association that represents the type of investment organization making the commitment.

Alternatively, if the group making the commitment is a venture capital fund, Canada’s Venture Capital and Private Equity Association would be responsible. While the peer review can be requested if the immigration officer believes that it would assist them in making a decision, they can also be initiated on a random basis. The assessment made by the peer review panel is not considered binding on the immigration officer. It will only confirm that the investment organization has carried out the proper checks and investigations according to industry standards. It will not provide an opinion on the wisdom or feasibility of the proposal in question.

The Peer review examines the level of due diligence that was performed by the designated organization and:

  • ensures that the company has been or will be incorporated in Canada;
  • ensures that business ownership has been verified and satisfies program requirements;
  • ensures that the designated organization has considered the viability of the proposed business model, assessed the business venture’s management team and verified the ownership of the intellectual property;
  • makes sure the focus of the business is on a high-growth potential product and/or service; and
  • validates, for business incubator applicants, acceptance into an incubator program.

Start-up Visa applications in Canada are typically processed within 12 to 16 months. However, applicants can apply for a temporary work permit enabling them to begin working in Canada prior to the approval of their permanent residence application.

Once an application is approved, the principal applicant and all accompanying family members will receive Canadian permanent resident status.

If you are interested to know more about the Start-Up Visa Program in Canada or have a question regarding Canada’s investment immigration processes, do not hesitate to contact our Canadian immigration specialists at Simard & Associates.