The start-up visa program gives an opportunity to entrepreneurs who have an innovative business idea to immigrate to Canada if they meet the eligibility and admissibility requirements. Canada targets immigrants which will build businesses that:
- are innovative
- can create jobs for Canadians
- can compete on a global scale
Eligibility rules for the Start-up Visa Program
- You must have a qualifying business:
When you get commitment from an organization:
- The applicant must hold at least 10% of the voting rights attached to all shares of the company
- Only up to 5 people can apply as owners
- Together with the designated organization, you must hold at least 50% of the voting rights attached to all shares of the company
When you get your permanent residence:
- You need to actively participate and manage the business from Canada
- howThe business must be incorporated in Canada and the most essential part of the business needs to happen in Canada
- You must have a letter of support from a designated organization:
- Make contact with the designated organization
- Share your business idea to convince the organization that the idea is worth supporting with writing or pitching it in- person depending on the organization
- If the designated organization is satisfied, you will receive a letter of support which needs to be included in your Start-Up Visa (SUV) application
- You must meet the language requirements:
- You must demonstrate that you are able to communicate and work in English, French or both languages with taking a language test from an approved agency and show that you meet the minimum level of the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 5 in either English or French in speaking, reading, listening, and writing.
- Bring enough money to settle and live in Canada before you make money from your business:
- You must show that you have enough money to live in Canada before your business is profitable and you can’t use the investment money from the designated organization for your own living expenses
Admissibility rules for the Start-up Visa Program
Like all applicants you must meet the admissibility requirements and not be inadmissible to Canada. Inadmissibility means that someone is not legally allowed to enter or remain in Canada. Things that can make someone inadmissible to Canada include:
- Criminal activity, including convictions, formal charges without convictions, or even arrests
- Serious medical conditions that can result in an excessive burden on the healthcare system
- Medical conditions that are a danger to public health or public safety.
7 things you should know if you want to apply for the Start-Up Visa program
- You are not limited to a support from only one designated organization, you can have multiple designated venture capital funds or angel investor groups which is known as syndication.
- If you get syndicated support, all parties involved must be identified and only one commitment certificate will be sent electronically and one letter of support will be provided to you.
- The minimum total investment amount is $200,000 for a designated angel group even if a designated angel group also invests.
- The minimum investment that you need to apply to the program is minimum investment of $200,000 for a designated Canadian venture capital fund, a minimum investment of $75,000 from a designated Canadian angel investor group and for a financial investment from a business incubator you don’t need investment you only need Canadian business incubator program.
- You can’t use the investment money for your own personal living expenses in Canada.
- You are not required to invest your own money – the minimum investment comes from designated Canadian venture capital fund or angel investor group.
- You will keep your permanent resident status even if the business fails.
How to get investment from a designated organization
You first need to contact the designated organization and convince them you have a business idea worth supporting. The rules are different for every organization, they choose which business proposals to review. For example, you may be asked to submit a business plan present it in person or in writing. If they like your idea and you reach an agreement they need to send you a letter of support which you must include when you submit the application for start-up visa as proof of their support. The organization will also send a commitment certificate directly to the IRCC.
For you to get a start-up visa your business or venture must get the support of one or more of the designated organizations listed below:
What is a letter of support?
A letter that is given to the applicant by the designated angel investor group or venture capital fund as a proof that they will support the business idea.
Designated organizations are business groups that are approved to invest in or support possible start-ups through the Start-up Visa Program.
Venture capital funds
You must get at least one of these groups to agree to invest a minimum of $200,000:
- 7 Gate Ventures
- Arete Pacific Tech Ventures (VCC) Corp
- BCF Ventures
- BDC Venture Capital
- Celtic House Venture Partners
- Extreme Venture Partners LLP
- First Fund
- Golden Venture Partners Fund, LP
- iNovia Capital Inc.
- Intrinsic Venture Capital
- Lumira Ventures
- Nova Scotia Innovation Corporation (o/a Innovacorp)
- PRIVEQ Capital Funds
- Real Ventures
- Red Leaf Capital Corp
- Relay Ventures
- ScaleUp Venture Partners, Inc.
- Tangentia Ventures
- Top Renergy Inc.
- Vanedge Capital Limited Partnership
- Version One Ventures
- WhiteHaven Venture
- Westcap Management Ltd.
- Yaletown Venture Partners Inc.
- York Entrepreneurship Development Institute (YEDI) VC Fund
Angel investor groups
You must get one or more investors connected to these groups to agree to invest a minimum of $75,000:
- Canadian International Angel Investors
- Ekagrata Inc.
- Golden Triangle Angel Network
- Keiretsu Forum Canada
- Oak Mason Investments Inc.
- TenX Angel Investors Inc.
- VANTEC Angel Network Inc.
- York Angel Investors Inc.
You must be accepted into one of these programs:
- Alacrity Foundation
- Alberta Agriculture and Forestry
- Alberta IoT Association
- Biomedical Commercialization Canada Inc. (operating as Manitoba Technology Accelerator)
- Brilliant Catalyst
- Creative Destruction Lab
- DMZ Ventures
- Empowered Startups Ltd.
- Extreme Innovations
- Genesis Centre
- Highline BETA Inc.
- Innovation Cluster – Peterborough and the Kawarthas
- Innovation Factory
- Interactive Niagara Media Cluster o/a Innovate Niagara
- Invest Ottawa
- Knowledge Park o/a Planet Hatch
- LatAm Startups
- Launch Academy – Vancouver
- LaunchPad PEI Inc.
- Millworks Centre for Entrepreneurship
- NEXT Canada
- North Forge East Ltd.
- North Forge Technology Exchange
- Pacific Technology Ventures
- Platform Calgary
- Pycap Inc (o/a Pycap Venture Partners)
- Real Investment Fund III L.P. o/a FounderFuel
- Roseview Global Incubator
- Spark Commercialization and Innovation Centre
- Spring Activator
- The DMZ at Ryerson University
- Think8 Global Institute
- Toronto Business Development Centre (TBDC)
- TSRV Canada Inc. (operating as Techstars Canada)
- University of Toronto Entrepreneurship Hatchery
- Waterloo Accelerator Centre
- York Entrepreneurship Development Institute
You must have reached Canadian Language Benchmark 5 in listening, reading, writing and speaking if you want to apply for start up program visa, which you can show by taking a language test. The test must be given by a designated language testing agency and you need to pass and include the results with your application.
- You must arrange for the testing and pay the costs yourself
- Submit the original test results with your application because if you don’t the application won’t be processed
Language tests and agencies designated to conduct these tests are:
English (CELPIP G-Test)
- Paragon Testing Enterprises Inc.
Note: CELPIP has two tests: “CELPIP-General (CELPIP-G)” and “CELPIP-Academic (CELPIP-A).” You must take the “CELPIP-G” test.
- Cambridge Assessment English
- IDP Australia, and
- The British Council
Note: IELTS has two options for the reading and writing tests: “General Training” and “Academic.” You must take the “General Training” option.
French (TEF Canada)
- The Paris Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Note: You must submit results from the following TEF Canada tests as proof of your French language proficiency:
- compréhension de l’écrit
- compréhension de l’oral
- expression écrite
- expression orale
They accept TEF results if you wrote your test before March 1, 2020. If you wrote the test on or after March 1, 2020, you need to provide TEF Canada test results.
French (TCF Canada)
- France Education International (FEI)
Note: You must submit results from the following TCF Canada tests as proof of your French language proficiency:
- compréhension de l’écrit
- compréhension de l’oral
- expression écrite
- expression orale
Note: Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) centres are not approved testing agencies for people who apply for a start-up visa.
Proof of Necessary Settlement Funds
The government and institutions of Canada can’t help you to start settling in Canada – you need to have the money to support yourself and your family without borrowing from another person. The amount varies on the number of dependents you will have with you in Canada.
Note: Any time you arrive in Canada, if you are carrying more than CAD$10,000, and you must tell this to the CBSA officer. If you don’t, you could be fined and your funds could be seized.
|Settlement Funds required
(in Canadian dollars)
|For each additional family member||$3,586|
Not enough funds
When you get the support of the designated organization and you have the letter of support and commitment certificate you may be considered for a work permit so you can support yourself while in Canada.
To be eligible for a work permit, you must:
- plan to live in a province or territory other than Quebec
- ensure the employer compliance fee is paid
- have support of the designated organization and the letter of support and commitment certificate
- 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.
Start Up Visa Application Process
As of October 14, 2022, it is now mandatory to apply online for a Start Up Visa; it is not allowed to apply on paper any longer. However, if you require accommodations or you can’t apply online you can ask for the application to be in another format.
Steps of the application process:
- Sign in or create a Permanent residence online application portal account so you can apply for permanent residence
Note: You should only create a new account if you’re:
- starting a new permanent residence application or
- applying to get a PR card/PRTD using this portal
2. You must fill out these digital forms online for yourself and any family members coming with you
- Generic Application Form for Canada (IMM 0008)
- Schedule A – Background/Declaration (IMM 5669)
- Additional Family Information (IMM 5406)
- Supplementary Information – Your travels (IMM 5562)
3. You must also fill out these PDF forms electronically signing for the entire application and uploading it online
Note; Use your checklist to make sure you include all the forms and documents you need.
- Schedule 13 – Business Immigration Programs – Start Up Business [IMM 0008 SCHEDULE 13] (PDF, 1.43 MB)
Note: Complete and sign by hand these PDF forms and get the third party to sign it by hand also, if they apply to you
- Statutory Declaration of Common-law Union [IMM 5409] (PDF, 0.78 MB), if this applies
- Separation Declaration for Minors Travelling to Canada [IMM 5604] (PDF, 1.99 MB), if this applies
Using an Immigration Consultant or Immigration Lawyer to Apply for a Start Up Visa
Any time you work together with an immigration lawyer or consultant on your Canadian immigration application, you will be required to declare to IRCC that you have a relationship with this representative.
Only Authorized Paid Representatives are allowed to represent you on your Start Up Visa Application. It is also considered misrepresentation to work together with a lawyer or consultant but not declare this relationship to IRCC by submitting a Use of Representative form with your application.
To register your Canadian immigration lawyer or immigration consultant for your Start Up Visa application, you must:
- sign the Use of Representative form digitally or by hand
- upload it with your application
Application Fees for Start Up Visa
- processing fees for you and the dependents you include on your application. For the principal applicant alone, the Start Up Visa application fee is $2140.
- the Right of Permanent Residence Fee (RPRF) $515
- fee for biometrics (digital photo and fingerprints) $85
Note: you must pay the biometric fees and make an appointment when you submit your application or you may experience delays. After you pay it you will get a confirmation letter and where you can go in person with making an appointment. You must show the confirmation letter when you give your biometrics.
- third-party fees depending on your situation for:
Before Submitting Your Start Up Visa Application
You must make sure that the application is complete and without any errors because it will be rejected. You must:
- answer all questions
- electronically sign your application (type your full name exactly as shown on your passport)
- include your processing fee receipt
- upload all the supporting documents
You must include:
- all the forms
- supporting documents
- language test
- proof of payment on the processing fees
Including Business Partners in Your Start Up Visa Application
If you have multiple people and business partners that are applying with you, each partner must submit their own Start Up Visa application. All of the applications must be received together before they are processed and you must inform the IRCC if a partner will no longer submit for a permanent residence application.
Complete and truthful application
All of the information you provide on your Start Up Visa application must be true and complete, because:
- your application could be refused
- you could be found inadmissible and
- you could be barred for five years from applying to come to Canada for any reason
What happens after you apply for a Start Up Visa
- Get your biometrics (everyone between 14 and 79 years old needs biometrics. After you pay, from the day you get the confirmation letter you have 30 days)
- Your application will undergo a completeness check for all forms, information, documents, and fees
- You and your family (even if they are not coming with you) will complete medical exams
- You and any family members 18 years of age and older must provide police certificates of any country you lived more than 6 months
- The decision on your application will be made if you
- You will be issued a permanent residence visa if your application is approved
Start Up Visa Application Processing Times
Current processing time for the Start Up Visa is approximately 31 months as listed on the IRCC website. The processing time listed by IRCC is a guideline and not a guarantee – some applications can be faster and some can be slower.
Things you can do to avoid delays in processing of your Start Up Visa application:
- disclosing any changes about your personal information, changes to address, phone , birth of child etc
- to not contact the visa office if not necessary about the same issue
Delays on your application
- there will be delays if they need to do more background checks on you if there are some criminal or security problems connected to your application
- some family issues or situation that are not resolved for example custody of a child can make delays on the application
- the application can be delayed if the visa office needs to contact abroad or other visa offices to verify the information you gave
Check the Satus of your Start Up Visa Application
If you want to know the status of your application you can check it after the visa has started processing it on this page:
Settling in Canada
- Already in Canada
Someone from the visa office will contact you and you will have to make a short interview with an immigration officer in which he will make sure that all the documents are valid, see if you still meet the terms to immigrate to Canada and confirm your Canadian address.
Note: If you changed your address within 180 days of your status you must notify the visa office.
For your interview you can:
- make an appointment at one of our offices in Canada (best option)
- go to a Canadian “port of entry” (border crossing), and present:
- proof that you have the funds to support yourself and your family
- your Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR) and your permanent resident visa (if we gave you one)
- If you’re outside Canada
Upon your arrival in Canada you will be welcomed by an officer from Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).
When you arrive:
- You must have a valid passport and/or travel documents (you can’t immigrate with a diplomatic, government service or public affairs passport)
- You must enter Canada with a valid permanent resident visa and your Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR) before the expiry date on the visa
- Show proof that you have enough money
- You will be asked questions to see if you are still eligible to enter Canada
- Your address will be confirmed so they can send you the permanent resident card
You won’t be allowed into Canada:
- if you give false or incomplete information or
- if you don’t convince the officer that you meet the conditions to enter Canada
Note: If you change your address within 180 days of arriving in Canada, you must notify the visa office using this online tool.
Get Help With Your Start Up Visa Application
The Start Up Visa application process is complex with multiple steps and . Contact us and we can provide information and help for the application process.