City of Toronto

Canada’s Start-Up Visa Program

What is the Start-up Visa Program?

The Start-Up Visa is Canada’s premier immigration program for entrepreneurs and business innovators. In 2015 Canada recognized the need to attract innovative companies to help Canada compete in the upcoming fourth industrial revolutions. Technical innovation is a key priority for the Government of Canada as seen this it’s Global Talent Stream programs.  The program is specifically designed to quickly bring immigrants to Canada, as permanent residents, who have the skills to build an innovative enterprise, employ Canadians and compete on a global scale. No other industrialized country has this type of visa program. 

How does the Start- Up Visa program work?

While the Government of Canada recognizes that innovative companies require larger markets, investment capital and mentorship for long-term market growth, it does not have the technical or deep industry specific knowledge to evaluate start-up companies. Thus, Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) recognized a group of Canadian angel investors, venture capital firms and Canadian business incubator as “Designated Organization.”

What is a Canadian Designated Organization?

A Designated Organization is an established Canadian business group that has been approved by the government to invest or support a foreign company that would like to enter Canada through a Letter of Support. Each of Designated Organization typically has a unique industry focus: fintech, bio-tech, consumer goods, app development, electronics, industrial design.

Entrepreneurs from around the world “pitch’ their ideas directly to Designated Organizations to see if it is willing to invest in the company as an investor or provide their time and business knowledge to help kick-start the business in Canada by welcoming the company to join their respective business incubator. If a business owner is able to convince organization that it has an idea worth supporting and a commercial agreement is reached, a Letter of Support will be issued to the company that will allow the owners and their family to apply for immediate permanent residency.  

What is the investment requirement for the Start-up Visa Program?

There is NO investment requirement required by the foreign company to be eligible for the Start-up Visa program. One of the most important aspects of the Start-Up Visa program is fact that it is not a performance-based program. The Canadian government understands the risks associated with starting a new business, thus the owner’s status in Canada is not linked to the success or failure of the company. Canada is more interested in the merits of the idea and its potential for growth.

What are the key requirements for the Start-Up Visa program?

  • Have a business  where each partner owns a minimum of 10% (maximum of five owners can apply);
  • Receive a Letter of Support from a Designated Organization;
  • Meet the government’s English or French language requirements;
  • Bring enough money to settle in Canada.

Does your business have what it takes to be a top entrepreneur in Canada?

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