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Start-Up Visa Program

Canada Start-Up Visa Program Overview

Canada’s Start-Up Visa Program is an investment immigration program that targets entrepreneurs looking to relocate to Canada. Through the program, innovative entrepreneurs must get support from private sector investors to help launch or expand their enterprise in Canada. While waiting for their permanent residency, foreign entrepreneurs who have applied for the Start-Up Visa are eligible for a temporary work permit so that they can be in Canada to set up and operate their business. 

Why is Canada an Attractive Place for Entrepreneurs?

As one of the wealthiest and most economically developed countries, Canada makes an ideal choice for entrepreneurs looking to relocate. Boasting a business-friendly economy, high quality of life, comprehensive welfare structure, sophisticated education system, and relatively low cost of living, Canada offers numerous incentives for new entrepreneurs. Start-up entrepreneurs can even benefit from the strong start-up ecosystem that Canada has cultivated over the years through the enormous access to venture capital and various incentives from the government. In recent years, big companies located in Canada have been feeding into the entrepreneurial potential and nurturing innovative ideas. World-class universities are acting as an incubator and accelerator for budding entrepreneurs by allowing access to their IP and resources. Additionally, the government also encourages start-up culture through programs like the Industrial Research Assistance Program, which offers entrepreneurs the mentorship and funding they need to get their start-up off the ground or the Strategic Innovation Fund by offering funding for industrial research, development and technology. Tax incentives, grants, and wage subsidies are some of the ways in which the Canadian government is helping to boost start-ups in Canada. By fostering innovation, cities like Toronto, Vancouver, Ottawa, Edmonton, and Calgary have reached within the top 100 cities in StartupBlink’s 2020 global startup ecosystem rankings. 

Details of Canada’s Start-Up Visa

In contrast to other investment immigration programs, the Start-Up Visa Program has no minimum net worth requirement and allows multiple applicants from one business project to apply. It also has one of the fastest processing times for getting a Canadian permanent residency. Unlike the provincial investment programs, applicants are not limited and confined to a specific region, meaning that applicants have a higher level of flexibility in where they want to settle. Since this program works along with reputable venture capital funds, angel investors and business incubators, there is a slightly easier transition for entrepreneurs as there is extra support to help facilitate the success of the startup.

Eligibility Requirements

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

  • Applicants must fulfill ownership requirements by holding at least 10% or more voting rights to all shares of the corporation and assuming an active and ongoing management role in the business. Essential operations must also be done within Canada to be considered for this program.
  • Applicants must secure a minimum investment from a designated organization for their Canadian start-up. If the designated organization is a venture capital fund, the investment must be at least CAD 200,000. If the application is with an angel investor group, the total investment must be at least CAD 75,000.
  • Although each organization has a different process and requirement, applicants must obtain a letter of support from a designated organization in Canada. Both the organization and applicant have to send a letter which summarizes relevant details of the commitment between both parties to the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) for the letter to be assessed as part of the application.
  • Applicants must show that they have sufficient funds to support their settlement into Canada for themselves and their family members. The exact proof of funds requirement depends on the number of family members: a minimum of CAD 12,960 for individual applicants, CAD 16,135 for a family of two, CAD 19,836 for a family of three, and CAD 24,083 for a family of four. Add approximately CAD 3,500 for each additional family member for numbers beyond that. Keep in mind that this money cannot be borrowed from another person.
  • Applicants must receive a minimum of the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) Level 5 or equivalent in either English or French in speaking, reading, listening, and writing.
  • Pass Canadian security and medical clearance
  • Demonstrate proof to settle in any province in Canada (except for the Province of Quebec)

Application Process

  1. Download the application form and document checklist from the IRCC website
  2. Prepare the necessary documents and fill in the application form
  3. Pay the application fee of CAD 1,575 for the principal and a CAD 500 right of permanent residence fee (RPRF). Accompanying partners must pay an additional CAD 825 for the application fee and another CAD 500 for the RPRF. If necessary, include extra biometrics or third-party fees like fingerprint collection, medical exams, police certificates, language testing etc.
  4. Mail the application directly to the IRCC office in Nova Scotia
  5. The IRCC will contact with an interview date or if there is any additional documentation needed
  6. If the application is approved, the IRCC will ask for passports to be sent to the visa office so that they can issue a permanent resident visa. This entire application process should take about 12 to 16 months.

Frequently Asked Questions?

1. Is the visa extendable to my family members?

Yes. The applicant’s spouse or common-law partner and dependent single children under 22 may also apply for a permanent resident visa under the same application.


2. What are the working rights for my family members?

Applicants from the Start-Up Visa Program are eligible for a temporary work permit. Once that is issued, spouses or common-law partners can apply for an Open Work Permit if they are joining you in Canada. Holders of valid visas and work permits will have access to provincial healthcare, driver’s licenses, and public school education for their children.


3. Can I apply while living abroad?

Yes. Applicants can choose to be outside of Canada after applying for up to 16 months, as there is a 12-month application processing time and a 4-month waiting period for the interview.


4. What happens if my business does not work out after immigrating to Canada through the Start-Up Visa Program?

The permanent visa from the Start-Up Visa Program is not attached and linked to the performance of the business. Even if the business does not work out, the permanent resident status will not be affected once granted.


5. What happens if I have investment support from more than one designated organization? 

If you have support from more than one designated organization, all investment organizations involved must be identified and noted. Only one commitment certificate will be sent to the IRCC for each application. The minimum total investment cannot be split between different organizations. Even if another group invests, there is a minimum total investment amount per organization of CAD 200,000 for a designated venture capital fund and CAD 75,000 for an angel investor group. 

If you are thinking of moving to Canada through investment immigration or have questions regarding different immigration programs, feel free to contact us. As an immigration specialist, Simard & Associates have years of experience in helping our clients achieve their immigration dreams by providing comprehensive assistance in handling and guiding you through every step of the application process.   


Read More: Entrepreneur Immigration: Canada’s Start-Up Visa Program

Read More: Retiring in Canada: Social Welfare and Family Benefits


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