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Business and Investor Visas

The Start-Up Visa program

The Start-Up Visa program

This visa grants permanent residence to immigrant entrepreneurs and encourages them to establish their businesses in Canada. Successful applicants have the opportunity to join their business with private sector organizations in Canada and receive funding, guidance and other expertise with regard to running and operating a business in Canada.

The Start-up visa program has been developed to encourage foreign national entrepreneurs to invest in Canada, create new jobs and thereby drive economic growth.

Eligibility requirements

  • Meet minimum language requirements in English or French (CLB 5 on all sections)
  • Have enough funds to settle in Canada
  • Plan to settle in a province other than Quebec
  • Submission of medical checks and police checks
  • Prove your business is supported through a designated organization
  • Show that your business meets all ownership requirements

*No more than five foreign nationals may apply for permanent residence as part of the same business venture under this program

Investment requirements

  • IRCC has designated a number of  venture capital funds, angel investor groups, and business incubator organizations   to participate in the Start-Up Visa program.
  • Those who are successful are required to secure a minimum investment for a Canadian start-up. If the investment is from a venture capital fund then the investment must be at least $200,000. If it is from an angel investor group, it should be at least $75,000. 
  • Applicants must be accepted into a Canadian business incubator program.
  • Applicants are not required to invest any of their own money.
  • Even if the Canadian start-up is unsuccessful in the future, candidates that are granted permanent residence through this program will retain their permanent resident status.

Evidence of Commitment

To show that candidates have got investor support from either a venture capital, an angel investor or a business incubator, they would need to submit a Commitment Certificate to the IRCC, which would include information regarding the agreement between the applicant and relevant investment organization outlining the details of the commitment between the two parties.

The applicant will also be required to submit a letter of support which they receive from the Investment organization, along with their application for permanent residence.

If there are two or more applicants as part of the same business venture, the commitment by the investment organization can be conditional upon one or more “essential person(s)” receiving their permanent residence. (An essential person is someone 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 could accept support from more than one organization. This is known as syndication. If this is the case, then all entities involved must be identified and will together provide a single commitment certificate to the IRCC and a joint letter of support to the applicant.

Peer Review Process

Since the Start-up visa is still a pilot program, it will need to go through a peer-review process to ensure that the investment between the applicant and the investment organization is legitimate. This assessment by the panel will confirm that the investment organization has carried out the proper checks and investigations according to industry standards.

The peer review panel will check for the following:

  • 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
  • makes sure the focus of the business is on a high-growth potential product or service

The maximum number of applications processed under this program is 2,750 per year and the program duration is limited to five years as it is still a pilot program.

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