Are you an entrepreneur wondering how to immigrate to Canada and start a business? Then the Canada start-up visa program is the best deal for you! The Canadian government created this program to draw entrepreneurs globally and offer them the funding and support to thrive in their businesses.
In return, the country depends on these businesses to grow, make the economy valuable, and create more job opportunities for Canadian residents. Owners of innovative start-ups or established foreign companies will get offered the opportunity to permanently relocate to Canada. And also with other founding members (about 4-5 partners), so long they meet all other criteria for the program.
As a foreign entrepreneur, if you want to apply for a Canada start-up visa program, our ultimate guide is for you. In this article, you’ll come across detailed information about the program that’s not commonly found elsewhere on the Internet. Also, we’ll drop some useful tips to have a successful Canada start-up visa. Let’s get started!
What Is The Canada Start-Up Visa Program?
Canada’s start-up visa program is for foreign entrepreneurs, it allows them to immigrate to Canada and establish a new business. However, foreign entrepreneurs must prove that their business is authentic and it will create employment opportunities for Canadians. It must also be able to compete with other businesses on a global scale.
The Requirements For a Canada Start-Up Visa
The Canadian immigration authorities have set some requirements for entrepreneurs who want to apply for PR in Canada under the start-up visa program. Let’s dive in!
1. Have A Qualifying Business
In the business, you must acquire at least 10% of the voting rights linked with all shares of the company. However, together with the appointed organization, you must acquire at least half (50%) of the voting rights linked with all shares of the company.
2. Have A Letter Of Support From An Appointed Organization
Furthermore, you must be able to prove that you have the support of a venture capital fund, angel investor group, or business incubator. To do this, you’ll need to pitch your business idea and make the organization see reasons to support it.
However, the procedure to pitch your business idea will differ for each organization. If you’re able to pitch successfully, you will receive a letter of support from the organization which must be included in your start-up visa application.
3. Meet The Language Requirements
Additionally, you must take a language test from an approved agency. Ensure that you meet the minimum level of the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 5 in English or French for speaking, reading, listening, and writing.
4. Proof Of Funds
Each of the applicants must demonstrate that they have sufficient funds to settle in Canada. At least something between $12,000 – $34,000, depending on the size of the applicant’s family.
Additionally, if entrepreneurs want to be successful in this program, they must be ready to meet the following basic criteria.
- They must have ownership of an innovative or successful business that’s generating sustainable revenue and has strong market
- They must also have access to capital fund the start-up venture, a minimum of $200,000 per
- Furthermore, they must have highly specialized knowledge or distinctive experience in the field or solid managerial
- Lastly, they must have an upper-intermediate level of English and/or French language skill(s).
How to Apply for a Canada Start-Up Visa
1. Fill Out The Application Form
- You will fill out the Generic Application Form for
- Then click on the Validate button on the However, all the required fields must be filled.
- You will print the validated application form and make sure to include the barcode
- Then, sign and date the
2. Complete The Document Checklist
- Gather all the documents listed in the document checklist in the specified
- Seal all the required documents in an
- Then print out the document checklist and sign
- Ensure you include the document checklist as the cover page of your
3. Pay Your Application Fees
- You must pay your application fees which include processing fees for you and any member included in your
- And also pay for the right of permanent residence
- Third-party fees such as fees for medical exams, police certificates, and language
- Biometrics fees: Check the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) website for the approved biometrics
4. Submit Your Application
- Before you submit your application, double-check to be sure it’s
- Also, ensure that you have signed all the
- All processing fees must be paid and ensure you include receipts in your
- Include all supporting documents as
Put all documents in a 9” x 12” envelope, write a start-up visa on the outside of the envelope, and mail it to the appropriate address.
Who Can NOT Apply For Canada Start-Up Visa
If you are a foreign entrepreneur who has limited capital to invest in your start-up business in Canada, this is NOT the right program for you. One of the major criteria for the Start-Up Visa program is to get a letter of support or investment commitment from any Designated Organization in Canada. However, getting support from a Designated Organization will be impossible if you/your company does not have adequate capital to invest in your business.
Even though the start-up visa program is classified as no minimum investment is required. In the real sense, your business must be well-capitalized to get support from the Designated Organizations. It’s ignorant to think that with a great idea, Venture Capital or Angel Investors in Canada will invest in your venture and provide you with the seed capital.
Venture Capital and Angel Investors usually look for valuable companies with a history of generating millions in revenue before investing. As such, entrepreneurs with great products/services but with limited capital of less than $200,000 should not think of the Start-Up Visa program. Meanwhile, don’t be discouraged as there are alternative pathways that we will discuss below.
Advantages And Disadvantages Of Canada Start-Up Visa
You must consider the benefits and downsides of the Canada start-up visa program before taking any further steps. Furthermore, you need to fully understand what the program is all about and whether it’s right for you.
Advantages Of Canada Start-Up Visa
Listed below are some of the advantages of Canada’s start-up visa program. Scroll down!
- It’s a direct pathway to obtain permanent residence (PR) in
- It’s also available to all
- Furthermore, there are no limitations on business activities in
- You do not need a net worth requirement or
- Additionally, it offers the opportunity of a partnership of 5 individuals in the same start-up. A minimum of 10% of ownership is required for each
- Lastly, it provides the opportunity to relocate to Canada by obtaining a work permit while the PR is being
Disadvantages Of Canada Start-Up Visa
Listed below are some of the disadvantages of Canada’s start-up visa program. Read on!
- There’s a high competition to receive support from designated organizations in As such, it can be difficult and discouraging to obtain such support.
- The processing time for this program is lengthy, up to 3+ years to obtain your permanent
- Furthermore, you will need high capital investments by the founding partners to secure support from a designated
- You’ll also need a well-developed, viable, and scalable business model with a proven record of
- There is a moderate risk of refusals at the permanent residence stage and/or delays due to peer
How To Obtain A Letter Of Support For Canada Start-Up Visa Program
It’s quite difficult to obtain a letter of support from a Canadian Designated Organization. This is because you must demonstrate that your start-up has strong market validation or recurring scalable revenue. Even if you have an innovative idea, relevant skills, as well as capital, you’ll still need to work with specialized business consultants to develop, test, and validate your idea.
This, you must do before seeking an endorsement from a designated organization. Below are major steps to follow if you want to receive a letter of support from a Designated Organization.
- You will need to prepare your pitch deck/business concept or a Business
- You will also need to submit your application to a designated organization for review and
- Prepare for an interview with a designated
- Furthermore, you will sign an agreement with the designated
- Then pay the required fees for the designated
- Obtain a Letter of Support from the designated organization(s).
- Lastly, you will submit your application for permanent residency and work
Designated Organizations For Start-Up Visa
According to the eligibility requirements, you must provide proof (Commitment Certificate and Letter of Support) that your business is being supported by a designated organization.
Meanwhile, these documents are important to your start-up visa application. It will cover the relevant details of your arrangement with one or more designated organizations.
In the case of federal and provincial investor programs, applicants must invest their capital. However, no investment of their funds will be required here. Instead, those who meet the eligibility requirements must secure a $75,000 minimum from a Canadian angel investor, or a
$200,000 minimum from a recognized Canadian venture capital fund.
No need for investment capital if the applicant is accepted into a recognized Canadian business incubator.
List Of Designated Organizations
The type of designated organization you partner with will determine if you’ll either complete a start-up development program or receive funding from them. However, it will be in exchange for equity in your company to obtain your letter of support.
It’s one of the most essential requirements of the start-up visa. You must also receive a Commitment Certificate and Letter of Support from one or multiple Venture Capital Funds, Angel Investor Groups, and/or Business Incubators.
Processing Time For Start-Up Visa Program
The processing time for a Canada start-up visa may vary depending on the workload of the IRCC. Generally, the guidelines state that the waiting period for the final decision on an application can be between 3 – 5 years.
Reasons For Delay and Rejection Of Your Start-Up Visa Application
Oftentimes, the immigration officer will start a peer review if the authenticity or feasibility of the enterprise is questionable. Meanwhile, the peer review panel will confirm if the designated entity has carried out proper checks and investigations based on industry standards. Below are some of the red flags that may result in peer review or a denial of your start-up visa application.
- If the investing entity has an excessively high/low percentage of shares and has little to no role in the legal control of the
- If the applicant has little or no equity in the
- Also, if most of the applicants are all related to each other or without experience or educational
- If there’s no intellectual property brought to the project and the business plan appears to be very
- Furthermore, if the designated organization has charged unnecessarily high
- If a management team has little or no startup
- Additionally, if the applicants fail to prove their essential role in the
- If the applicant fails to make significant progress on startup during the period when the applicant was lawfully authorized to work in
We hope you find this ultimate guide on Canada start-up visa informative.
Frequently Asked Questions
FAQ 1. What will happen if the business fails?
You can still keep your Canadian permanent residence even if your business fails.
FAQ 2. Who qualifies as a dependent on the Canada start-up visa?
The main applicant’s family members (spouse and children) can qualify as dependent on the start-up visa. However, the children must be below the age of 22.
FAQ 3. Do I need to travel to Canada during the start-up visa process?
No, you do not need to travel to or reside in the country. However, since it requires immigrant entrepreneurs to have ongoing management of the qualifying business in Canada, you may be required to stay in the country to satisfy these requirements once you are approved. In addition, you as the applicant must demonstrate that you’ll immigrate to Canada and use the work permit to avoid validation problems.