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  • Writer's pictureC&A Insights Team

Canadian Start-Up Visa: Guide for Foreign Entrepreneurs

Updated: May 15

Canada's Start-up Visa program allows overseas entrepreneurs and their teams (up to 5 people) to immigrate and establish a business in Canada.

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Canadian Start-Up Visa: Guide for Foreign Entrepreneurs

"Coming out of the pandemic, the clear message we are sending with the startup visa program is that Canada is open for business. Undoubtedly, Canada will bolster its economic growth and employment by bringing in international students, at least some of whom will become tech founders, as well as business owners." - The Honourable Marco E. L Mendicino, P.C., M.P., Minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship

What is the Start-up Visa (SUV) Program?

The Start-up Visa program was implemented to attract immigrant entrepreneurs who want to establish a business in Canada. Through this program, Canada targets immigrants with the potential to start businesses that are innovative, competitive on a global scale, and which can create jobs for Canadians. 

What are the Program Streams for a Start-up Visa (SUV)?

The Start-up Visa program consists of three streams categorized based on the type of organization that agrees to fund your business idea:

1. Venture Capital A venture capital (VC) fund is a sum of money investors committed to investing in early-stage companies. For this stream, you must get one of the designated organizations for the stream to invest a minimum of $200,000 in your business.

2. Angel Investor An angel investor is an individual who offers funding to promising startup companies in exchange for equity or royalty of the business. For this stream, you must get one or more angel investors associated with one of the designated organizations of the stream to invest a minimum of $75,000 in your business.

3. Business Incubator A business incubator is a program that offers start-up companies support in the form of mentorship, investing, and more. For this stream, you must be accepted into one of the designated programs of the stream for your business proposal to receive development approval.

For a list of all designated organizations for the Start-up Visa program click here.

Who Can Apply?

To qualify for the Start-up Visa Program, you must:

1. Have an eligible business:

An eligible business is one in which each applicant of the business holds 10% or more of the voting rights attached to the corporation shares and one in which more than 50% of the total voting rights are jointly held by the applicants and the designated organization funding the business.

2. Get the support of a Designated Organization:

You must receive a letter of support from a designated organization of the Start-up Visa program and include it in your application.

3. Meet the language requirements:

You must take a language test from an approved agency and obtain results that prove that you have basic proficiency in English or French [Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 5 or greater]

4. Have sufficient funds to settle in Canada:

Your business proposal will receive financial support, but you must be able to financially support yourself and any dependents you may bring with you to Canada. Hence, you must have a minimum of $500,000 in net worth (combined between the principal applicant and spouse)

5. Be between 20-70 years old 6. Have a clear medical, security, and criminality record to be admissible to Canada 

What is the Application Process?

To apply for the SUV, you must fill in all the documents required in the application package, pay your application fees, and wait for the submission of your application. Applying for the start-up visa requires attention to detail, as applications with missing or incorrect documents/information can be refused and the applicants barred from applying to any immigration stream for a determined period. After the submission of an application, the process can be illustrated like this:

Application Process for Canadian Start-Up Visa

Is the Program Limited to Specific Industries?

The Canadian Start-up Visa program is generally open to innovative businesses in any industry of operation. With that said, each designated organization of the program may prioritize certain industry sectors over others. Therefore, it’s important for you to be as enlightened as possible on the Canadian economy so that you can pitch your business idea in an attractive way. Here is a non-exhaustive list of some common industries applicable to the SUV program:

  1. Advanced manufacturing or engineering

  2. Energy

  3. Internet

  4. Big data analytics

  5. Software development

  6. Artificial intelligence

  7. Robotics

  8. Life sciences

  9. Financial technology

  10. Clean technology

  11. Healthcare/health technology

  12. Biotechnology

  13. Environmental technology

How We Can Help You:

We are a leading professional immigration consultancy firm located in Vancouver, Canada. Our expertise encompasses different kinds of immigration pathways including applications for work permits, visitor visas, family sponsorships, study permits, permanent residency, and Express Entry, among others… We are regulated by the Canadian government and are always well-informed about the rules and requirements of the different immigration pathways. We are well-qualified to assist you in your Start-up Visa application as we:

  1. Work only with government-approved designated organizations for all three SUV funding streams

  2. Ensure that you meet the program qualifications

  3. Help you develop a creative business concept incorporating input from your designated funding organization

  4. Prepare you and your teammates for the interview process

  5. Increase your chances to obtain a letter of support from a designated organization

  6. Assist with and review your work permit and permanent residence application

  7. Prepare a submission letter unique to each client

  8. Undertake any legal challenges that may arise to ensure your success in the process

Want to learn more? Check out our Business Immigration services here!

A Cautionary Note: The foregoing provides only an overview and does not constitute legal advice. Readers are cautioned against making any decisions based on this material alone. Rather, specific legal advice should be obtained, and the readers are asked to refer to the government website for the most updated information.


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