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Permanent Residency for for Immigrant Entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneur Start-Up Visa

Obtain Permanent Residence by starting a business in Canada.

Canada’s Start-Up Visa Program is designed to attract immigrant entrepreneurs with dynamic skills, who have the potential to establish businesses in Canada that are innovative, can create employment opportunities for Canadians, and can compete on a global scale. 

The program grants successful Applicants and eligible dependents permanent residence in Canada and provides assistance with becoming established. Applicants receive leadership support, guidance and access to funding to assist with opening and operating their business in Canada through the designated Canadian organization that elects to support them.

Up to five (5) people can apply as owners.

Processing Time

  • 12 to 16 months

If biometrics are required, the processing time will include the time you need to give your biometrics.

Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible to apply, Applicants must meet the following requirements:

  • Have a qualifying business (see what constitutes a Qualifying Business);
  • Obtain a letter of support from a designated organization;
  • Obtain the minimum required investment (if going through a venture capital fund or angel investor group);
  • Meet the minimum language requirement of CLB 5 in all abilities (English or French);
  • Pass the medical and security clearances;
  • Have enough funds to settle in Canada; and
  • Intend to reside in a province other than Quebec.

Qualifying Business

A Qualifying Business must meet the following conditions:

  • At the time of obtaining a commitment from a designated organization:
    • Each Applicant holds at least 10% of the voting rights attached to all shares of the corporation outstanding at that time; 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 of obtaining permanent residence:
    • Applicants are providing active and ongoing management of the business from within Canada;
    • An essential part of the operations of the business happens in Canada; and
    • The business is incorporated in Canada.

Investment Requirements

There is a designated number of organizations that may provide commitment to Applicants. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has authorized certain venture capital funds, angel investor groups and business incubator organizations to partake in the Start-Up Visa Program.

Successful applicants must:

  • Secure an investment of at least $200,000 from a venture capital fund; OR
  • Secure an investment of at least $75,000 from an angel investor group; OR
  • Be accepted into a business incubator program.

Support from multiple organizations is acceptable. The designated organizations must be identified and jointly provide IRCC with a single Commitment Certificate and provide the Applicant(s) one Letter of Support.

In a situation where multiple designated organizations are providing support, the minimum total investment amount is determined by the requirements of the contributing organization that invests first (i.e. if the business receives an investment from an angel investor group, but not a venture capital fund, the minimum total investment must be $75,000).

Peer Review

In order to help preserve the integrity of the Start-Up Visa Program and ensure that the activities of the designated organization and the Applicant are in line with industry standards, immigration officers may request an independent assessment of a commitment. These assessments are to be conducted by a peer review panel of experts assembled by the Applicant’s industry association.

The panel of experts are responsible for the following:

  • Assessing the level of due diligence performed by the designated organization;
  • Assessing the terms of the commitment, and if applicable, the investment, to ensure the terms are consistent with industry standards;
  • Ensuring that the business has been or will be incorporated in Canada;
  • Ensuring that the business ownership has been verified and meets the requirements of the Program;
  • Ensuring that the designated organization:
    • Considered the viability of the proposed business model;
    • Assessed the business venture’s management team; and
    • Verified the ownership of the intellectual property.
  • Ensuring that the focus of the business is on a high-growth potential product/service; and
  • Validate whether the business was accepted into a business incubator program, if applicable.

Work in Canada While You Wait

The Start-Up Visa Program provides Applicants with the option to apply for a short-term Canadian Work Permit under the International Mobility Program while they await a decision on the permanent residence application.

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