Startup Visa Canada: The Complete Guide and Review

Updated: 3 April 2023

Are you an entrepreneur? Interested in coming to Canada and starting a business?

Then the Startup Visa program is just right for you.

The Canadian government started the program to attract entrepreneurs from all around the world and to give them the funding and the support needed to thrive in their businesses.  In return, Canada banks on these businesses to grow, add value to the overall economy and create more jobs for Canadians.

The startup visa application process will be fast-tracked. The goal is to approve successful applicants within weeks. The Canadian Entrepreneur Visa provides permanent resident status, which can then lead to citizenship.

We’ll first go through a quick four-step outlining the process. If it still looks interesting after analyzing these four steps, make sure to read the rest of the article. That’s where we get into more detail.

What You Will Find in This Article

How Canada Startup Visa Works: In Four Short Steps

Step #1: Get Your Business Supported by a Designated Investor

We will go over this step in detail below in the Eligibility section. You are required to get a letter of support from one of the designated investor organizations. The letter needs to state that they are going to fund your idea.

Step #2: Meet the Language Requirements

You have to be able to communicate and work in English, French, or both. You need to provide Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) with proof of language proficiency. This means that you must take a language test from an IRCC approved agency and meet the minimum language requirements.

Step #3: Prove Your Business Meets Ownership Requirements

A single business may have a maximum of five owners when you apply for the program. Each applicant must hold at least 10% of the voting rights in the business.  The designated investment organization and the applicant/s must together own more than 50% of the voting rights in the business.

Step #4: Have Sufficient Funds to Settle in Canada

You need to prove to the Canadian government that you have enough funds to support yourself and your family once you settle in Canada. The government does not provide any financial support for entrepreneurial immigrants.

In the below Eligibility section, you can find a table of required funds.

These are the steps of the program in a nutshell. Enough for you to sleep over and assess if it is right for you.

Well, if you already slept over it and cannot wait to start with the process, then feel free to go on with the rest of the article. We will now analyze the above steps in more detail.

Eligibility for Canada Entrepreneur Visa

Proof of Support by a Designated Investment Organization

If you are interested in immigrating to Canada through the Entrepreneur Startup Visa program, the first step is to find a Canadian angel investor group, business incubator, or venture capital fund to back you up. At least one of these entities must be willing to invest in your new startup.

Mind you, the investor organization must be a designated angel investor group, a qualified business incubator program, or a designated venture capital by the Canadian government to take place in the Entrepreneur Startup Visa program.

Each fund or group has its own application. Chances are, you will need to contact these groups and apply through various processes to submit and present your business idea to them. While some parties may expect you to have a complete business plan, others may not.

Spend some time researching these groups. Visit their websites and analyze what sort of startups they are interested in. Each group or fund may have varying objectives and choose to invest in specific sectors or types of businesses. On their websites, you may also find an outline of their application process.

Once you submit your idea and convince one of the designated incubators, angel investor groups, or venture capital funds to support your business, they will send you a letter of support.  They also provide the IRCC with a completed Commitment Certificate. The certificate lays out the details of the agreement and commitment between the designated organization and the candidate.

You may very well receive support from more than one investor. This is referred to as syndication.  In this case, the organizations supporting you will provide one joint Commitment Certificate to IRCC.

Once you have the letter from your investor or investors, you are now ready to apply for your Startup Visa, assuming that you tick all the other boxes.

The minimum amount you must secure for your business is:

  • 200,000 CAD if the investment is from a Canadian VC,
  • 75,000 CAD if the investment is from an angel investor,
  • 0 CAD, that’s right, zero, if your business is accepted in a business incubator program in Canada

Proof of Meeting the Minimum Language Requirement

You must be able to communicate and work in English, French, or both. This means that you must take a language test from an IRCC approved agency and meet:

  • Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 5 in speaking and listening and 4 in reading and writing in English
  • Niveaux de Compétence Linguistique Canadiens (NCLC) 5 in speaking and listening and 4 in reading and writing in French

Proof of Meeting the Education Requirement

You need to have completed a minimum of one year of study at a postsecondary institution. You also need to provide transcripts, a letter of good standing, diplomas, degrees, or certificates to show that you fulfill this requirement.

Proof of Sufficient Settlement Funds

You must have sufficient funds to support yourself and your family once you immigrate to Canada. The amount depends on your family size, here is a recent chart:

Number of Family Members Required Funds (Canadian Dollars)
1 12,960 CAD
2 16,135 CAD
3 19,836 CAD
4 24,083 CAD
5 27,315 CAD
6 30,806 CAD
7 34,299 CAD
For each additional family member 3,492 CAD

Source: IRCC

Although these are the minimum required funds, it is recommended that you bring in as many funds as possible when you move to Canada. New businesses and startups do not break even overnight, so you will need all the money you can get to sustain a livelihood for your family in the meantime.

Note: If you have more than 10,000 CAD with you when you enter the country, you need to notify a Border Services and Agency (CBSA) officer upon entry.

Proof of Security and Medical Clearances

You and your family members need to undergo a security clearance and a medical examination in order to determine whether you:

      • Pose a security threat to the country,
      • Have a severe health condition that would put a burden on the Canadian healthcare system.

Application Costs

Here is a breakdown of the fees:

Application Fee Required Funds (Canadian Dollars)
Main Applicant 1,540 CAD
Spouse 1,040 CAD
Dependent Child 150 CAD
Legal Fees May vary depending on the Law Firm

These fees are subject to change at the will of the Government of Canada.

Application Process

If you meet all the above eligibility requirements, you can apply for Permanent Residency. The processing time takes between 12 to 18 months.  Here are the phases:

Phase #1: Draft of Business Plan (1-2 months)

You need to provide a detailed CV for preliminary qualification, along with the other initial required documents.  We will delve into the documentation later on in the article.

You also need to put together your business plan draft at this phase.

Phase #2: Letter of Support (6-10 months)

At this stage, you need to have completed your business plan and submitted it to a designated investment organization.  As discussed above, this organization can either be one of the designated angel investor groups, business incubators, or a designated venture capital fund.

The designated entity or entities must have approved your proposed plan and submitted a support letter to you and a Commitment Certificate to IRCC.

Phase #3: Permanent Resident Application (8-12 months)

This is the final stage, where you apply for your Permanent Residency along with your investment letter and other necessary documents.

The state department assesses the submission and then accepts or rejects your request.

Required Documents

          • Detailed Resume (CV) of the candidate
          • Draft Business Proposal
          • Copy of Passport or Legal Travel Document
          • Birth Certificate
          • Marriage Certificate (if married)
          • Police Clearance Record from your country of origin and residence
          • Proof of Funds: a recent Bank Statement covering at least six months
          • Bank Reference Letter
          • Language Test Results (IELTS CLB Level 5 or NCLC Level 5)
          • Medical Examination Confirmation from a certified health institution
          • Letter of Support from a designated entity in Canada

All documents need to be legally translated to English or French and certified or apostilled from the corresponding country.  The immigration office may request additional documents if they seek to have further information.

How can Get Golden Visa help?

At Get Golden Visa, we are here to help you learn more about and apply for the Entrepreneurship Startup Visa in Canada.

We have experienced business immigration professionals, who provide prompt and cost-effective advice to any individual applying for the program.  We will assist you with all aspects of the process. Fill out a form and get in touch with us and let us help you in finding the right solution for your specific case.

Additional and Useful Bits of Information

Below, you can find some easy-to-consume information on the start-up visa program.

          • With your application, your family can also obtain Permanent Residency
            • This includes your spouse and children under the age of 22
          • You and your family can come to Canada and access the Canadian healthcare and education systems
          • This is a federal program, so you may choose to live in any Canadian province
          • You are eligible to apply for Citizenship after three years of living in the country
          • The Canada Startup Class is generally referred to as Startup Visa program (SUV)
          • The business must be incorporated in Canada
          • The government will only accept up to 2,750 applications per year

Frequently Asked Questions

What if the business fails?

You can still keep your Canadian permanent residence even if your business fails.

What is the Canada Startup Visa Program?

The SUV offers entrepreneurs and their families a chance to obtain permanent residency for starting a qualifying business in the country. It allows immigrant entrepreneurs to submit a business project along with other personal information.  Once approved by the immigration programs, the applicants can come to Canada.

Who qualifies as a Dependent on the SUV?

The main applicant’s spouse and children can qualify as dependent family members.  The children have to be under the age of 22.

What are the Main Advantages of Canada’s Startup Visa?

          • Permanent residence is granted for successful entrepreneurs and their family
          • PR also functions as a work permit
          • The applicants can then apply for citizenship
          • Canadian citizens are allowed dual citizenship
          • You do not have to provide a source of funds to apply
          • There is no age limit for the main applicant
          • It has a fast processing time

Do I need to travel to Canada during the SUV process?

No, you do not need to travel to or reside in the country. Though, since it requires the immigrant entrepreneurs to have ongoing management of the qualifying business in Canada, you may be required to stay in the country to satisfy these requirements once you are approved. You as the applicant must show a willingness to immigrate to Canada and use the work permit in order to avoid validation problems.

How much money should I bring?

Refer to the Eligibility section above to find a chart of the minimum funds you need to bring when you settle.

Do I need to Provide a Source of Funds for the settlement funds or the money I put in my business?

No. You are not required to prove a source of funds or path of funds, you are only required to show that you have sufficient funds to meet the requirements.

How can I qualify for the Start-Up Visa Program?

To qualify for the Start-up Visa, you must meet all the above eligibility requirements.

What is the typical processing time?

1st Phase, drafting the Startup Plan for the Startup Visa program (1-2 months)
2nd Phase, obtaining a Support Letter (6-10 months)
3rd Phase, Applying for Permanent Residence (8-12 months)

How difficult is the Language Selection?

You basically need to be comfortable in all aspects of communication in English, French, or both languages. You must show a minimum level of competency by taking the corresponding language tests. They can be taken in various locations across the world.

Are There Any Other Routes To Canada Permanent Resident Visa?

Yes, there are. You can refer to our article on How To Get Canada Permanent Resident Visa for further assistance.

For further reading, please check out our Frequently Asked Questions about Startup Visa Canada article.

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