Start-Up Visa Program

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada’s (Immigration Canada) Start-Up Visa Program is designed for those who have entrepreneurial experience who wish to build businesses in Canada that are innovative, that will create employment opportunities for Canadians, and that will complete on a global scale.

A maximum of five (5) people can apply for the Start-Up Visa Program as owners of one single business. To qualify under the Start-Up Visa Program, a foreign national must demonstrate that:

  • The business is supported by one of Immigration Canada’s designated organizations, and that the designated organization has issued a Letter of Support; 
  • They have secured the minimum investment (if required):
    • CAD $200,000 if the investment comes from a designated Canadian venture capital fund
    • CAD $75,000 if the investment comes from a designated Canadian angel investor group
  • The business meets the ownership requirements:
    • Each applicant must hold at least 10% of the voting rights; and
    • The designated organization and the applicant(s) must jointly hold more than 50% of the voting rights in the business. 
  • They have, at minimum, CLB (Canadian Language Benchmark) 5 in all four abilities, in either English or French; and
  • They are able to support themselves (and their family members) financially once in Canada by meeting settlement fund requirements. 

If multiple people (up to a maximum of five) are applying as owners of one single business, one person will be designated to be the “essential person”. The “essential person” is a person who is considered to be essential to the business, and has been specified as being essential by the designated organization. If the “essential person’s” application is refused, all related persons’ application will also be refused. 

Immigration Canada will assess the foreign national to determine if they qualify under the Start-Up Visa Program, as well as completing the required medical and criminal inadmissibility assessments. If the application for permanent residence is successful, Immigration Canada will issue a document called a Confirmation of Permanent Residence. With this document, the foreign national may then complete the landing process in order to obtain permanent resident status.

Under the Start-Up Visa Program, the permanent residence status of a foreign national is not tied to the success of their business. Therefore if the foreign national’s business fails, they will still maintain their permanent residence status.