1. Start-up Visa Program
2. Immigrant entrepreneurs
Fees are from 2,075 and the processing time is between 12 to 16 months.
Canada’s Start-up Visa Program targets immigrant entrepreneurs with the skills and potential to build businesses in Canada that:
- are innovative
- can create jobs for Canadians
- can compete on a global scale
To be eligible for the Start-up Visa Program, you must:
- have a qualifying business
- get a letter of support from a designated organization
- meet the language requirements
- bring enough money to settle
2.1. Have a qualifying business
A qualifying business means you created a business that meets the following conditions.
- At the time you get a commitment from a designated organization:
- each applicant holds 10% or more of the voting rights attached to all shares of the corporation outstanding at that time (up to 5 people can apply as owners)AND
- applicants and the designated organization jointly hold more than 50% of the total voting rights attached to all shares of the corporation outstanding at that time
- At the time you receive your permanent residence:
- you provide active and ongoing management of this business from within Canada
- an essential part of the operations of the business happens in Canada
- this business is incorporated in Canada
2.2. Get a letter of support from a designated organization
You must get a letter of support from a designated organization (a business group that has been approved to invest in or support possible start-ups).
You’ll need to:
- contact the designated organization to find out how to get its support
- convince the organization that you have a business idea that is worth supporting
- get a letter of support from the designated organization
The process to pitch your idea is different for each organization. Each organization has its own requirements. For example, you may be asked to present your business concept in person or submit a detailed business plan.
If you reach an agreement with a designated organization, it will send you a letter of support. You need to include this letter when you submit your application to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. This is the proof you need to show that the venture capital fund, angel investor group, or business incubator is supporting your business idea.
The organization will also send a commitment certificate directly to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.
If you don’t include the letter of support or meet any of the other requirements, your application will be refused.
Note: While your application for permanent residence is being processed, you can apply for a temporary work permit to get to Canada and start building your business.
2.3. Meet the language requirements
You must take a language test from an approved agency Must meet the minimum level of the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 5 in either English or French in all of these four areas:
2.4. Bring enough money to settle
The amount you need depends on the size of your family. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada updates these amounts every year.
(in Canadian dollars)
|For each additional family member||$3,492|
Depending on your situation, you may need to pay third parties for:
Note: When the application is approved, a permanent resident visa is issued. This visa includes your Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR) and your entry visa. The COPR must be used before it expires.
2.5. Work permits for Start-Up Visa applicants
Only foreign nationals who have received a Commitment Certificate and Letter of Support issued by a designated entity may be considered for a short-term work permit. The designated entity must support the request for a work permit.
To be eligible for a work permit, you must:
- plan to live in a province or territory other than Quebec
- pay the employer compliance fee
- have received a Commitment Certificate and a Letter of Support from a designated entity indicating that you are “essential” and there are urgent business reasons for your early entry to Canada and
- have sufficient funds to meet the low income cut off for your family for 52 weeks
Before submitting an application for a work permit, you must submit your ‘self-employed’ offer of employment, as well as pay the $230 employer compliance fee.
- Submit your offer of employment and pay the employer compliance fee
- Submit your offer of employment and pay the fee through the Employer Portal
- Create an offer of employment
3. Business groups in Canada
The Start-up Visa Program connects Canadian business organizations with immigrant entrepreneurs who have the skills and potential to build innovative businesses in Canada.
With the support of a designated organization, immigrant entrepreneurs can apply for permanent residence in Canada and launch their start-up here. Designated organizations include venture capital funds, angel investor groups and business incubators that have been approved to support these start-ups.
3.1. Get the designation
To become a designated organization, you must be a member of and be recommended by one of our partner industry associations:
- Canadian Venture Capital & Private Equity Association (CVCA)
- Makes recommendations for venture capital funds
- National Angel Capital Organization (NACO)
- Makes recommendations for angel investor groups and business incubators
The Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship designates organizations based on these recommendations. You’ll be considered designated on the date your organization name is added to the list of designated organizations.
3.2. Find a start-up to support
As a designated organization, you can develop your own process for receiving proposals from immigrant entrepreneurs. You can also develop your own criteria to assess them. It’s up to you to find potential immigrant entrepreneurs you’d like to support.
3.3. Make an investment or pledge your support
For an immigrant entrepreneur to be eligible for start-up visa, they must get your investment or support.
Here is the minimum investment or support you must give:
- if you are a designated venture capital fund, you must make a minimum investment of $200,000 into their business
- if you are a designated angel investor group, you must make a minimum investment of $75,000 into their business
- if you are a designated business incubator, you must accept the immigrant entrepreneur into one of your incubation/acceleration programs
You can team up with other designated organizations to meet the minimum investment or support required.
3.4. Send the commitment certificate
Once you’ve found a business you want to invest in or support, you must:
- send a commitment certificate, including a term sheet or client agreement, and
- give the immigrant entrepreneur a Letter of Support, to be included with their application
A commitment certificate is valid for 6 months after the date it is issued.
4. Application process for immigrant entrepreneurs
Applicants must submit an application for permanent residence under Start-up Visa before the commitment certificate expires. They must include the Letter of Support with their application.
If the entrepreneur wants to come to Canada while we process their permanent residence application, they can apply for a short-term work permit under the International Mobility Program. For the entrepreneur to be eligible for the work permit, you must have identified them as an “essential applicant” on their commitment certificate.
Peer review process
If more information is needed about the commitment made, Immigration, Refugees Citizenship Canada 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.
If the peer review identifies concerns with the commitment, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada will 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.
The entrepreneur can apply for a work permit before or after applying for permanent residence.