Canada is an ideal country for entrepreneurs to start their businesses thanks to a bolstered economy, excellent quality of life, and a welcoming atmosphere. The Canadian government, too, is keen on improving the country and has introduced a string of initiatives to attract foreign entrepreneurs to start businesses there for business visa. One such initiative is the Canada Startup Visa Program. The Canada Startup Visa was implemented in a bid to attract foreign entrepreneurs to invest in and contribute to the Canadian economy. It aims to bring talented entrepreneurs worldwide with innovative business ideas and the potential to create jobs for Canadians. In addition, the program provides a pathway to permanent residency in Canada for foreign entrepreneurs who can secure the support of designated organizations in Canada.


What is the start-up visa program?

The Canada Start-up Visa Program is a strategic program that provides a pathway for foreign entrepreneurs to obtain permanent residency and establish a business. This program works as a “wild card” of sorts. Its objective is to attract innovative entrepreneurs who have the potential to start successful businesses and generate employment in Canada. In addition, this program requires foreign entrepreneurs to secure the support of designated organizations in Canada that are approved to invest in or support start-ups. With the start-up industry booming in Canada, this is an excellent time for business owners and entrepreneurs around the globe to mark their presence in this country. 

What are the requirements for Canada's start-up visa?

Foreign entrepreneurs and business owners must meet the following requirements to qualify for Canada’s start-up visa. They are – 

  1. Qualify for a letter of support and commitment support from a designated organization in Canada.
  2. Have a business idea that is innovative, scalable, and has the potential to create jobs for Canadians.
  3. Possess sufficient language skills in either English or French. Precisely, you should meet the minimum level 5 of the Canadian Language Benchmark in the two aforementioned languages in speaking, reading, writing, and listening.
  4. Have enough funds to settle in Canada and support themselves and their family members for at least one year.
  5. Pass a security and medical examination. 

Designated organizations for a start-up visa

Canada has six types of designated organizations that can provide endorsement for entrepreneurs seeking a start-up visa –

  1. Venture Capital Funds – These Canadian venture capital funds are members of the Canadian Venture Capital and Private Equity Association (CVCA). They are willing to invest at least $200,000 in a qualifying start-up.
  2. Angel Investor Groups – These are angel investor groups that are members of the National Angel Capital Organization (NACO) and are willing to invest at least $75,000 in a qualifying start-up.
  3. Business Incubators – These business incubators are members of the Canadian Association of Business Incubation (CABI) and focus on innovative and scalable businesses.
  4. Business Accelerators – These are business accelerators that focus on innovative and scalable businesses and have been approved by the Start-up Visa Program.
  5. Designated Organizations – These are designated organizations approved by the Start-up Visa Program, including venture capital funds, angel investor groups, and business incubators and accelerators.
  6. Provinces or Territories – Provinces or territories in Canada can also be designated organizations and endorse entrepreneurs who wish to start a business within their jurisdiction.

List of designated organizations

Here is a list of some of the designated organizations that support the start-up visa program:

  • MaRS Discovery District
  • Creative Destruction Lab
  • NextAI
  • Ryerson Futures Inc.
  • Invest Ottawa
  • Propel ICT
  • FounderFuel
  • BDC Venture Capital
  • Extreme Venture Partners
  • Vanedge Capital

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How to apply for a start-up visa

To apply for a start-up visa, foreign entrepreneurs must follow these steps:

  1. Secure a letter of support from a designated organization in Canada. It would help if you convinced them that your business idea is innovative, viable, and has the potential to create jobs and contribute to the Canadian economy.
  2. Complete the application for a start-up visa after checking the eligibility criteria and doing the needful to qualify.
  3. Apply along with all the required documents, including a business plan, financial statements, and the letter of support from the designated organization, to the appropriate IRCC office, along with the processing fee. You may also need to pay a biometrics fee and undergo biometric screening.
  4. Wait for the application to be processed. Processing times can vary, but it typically takes several months to process a Start-up Visa application.

You will receive a Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR) document if your application makes it through. In an unfortunate instance if your application is rejected, you may have the option to reapply.

What is the processing time for Canada's start-up visa?

The processing time for Canada’s Startup Visa can vary depending on the volume of applications received and the complexity of each application. According to the official website of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), the current processing time for a Startup Visa application is approximately 12 to 16 months. It’s always a good idea to check the IRCC website for the most up-to-date information on processing times, required documents and information for a smooth process.

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Let's make it happen!

The Canada Startup Visa program is a great opportunity for foreign entrepreneurs with innovative business ideas to start and grow their businesses in Canada. The program provides a pathway to permanent residency in Canada without requiring applicants to invest their funds or meet net worth or investment criteria. The program requires foreign entrepreneurs to secure the support of designated organizations in Canada that are approved to invest in or support startups. If you are a foreign entrepreneur with an innovative business idea, the Canada Startup Visa program may be the right choice for you. Contact us today to let us help you with your Canada Startup Visa. 

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