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What is Canada's Start-Up Visa for Entrepreneurs?

Blog posted on by Evelyn Ackah in Business Immigration to Canada, Entrepreneurs, Start-Up Visa Program, Permanent Residence and Start-Up Visa Program

What is Canada's Start-Up Visa for Entrepreneurs?

Entrepreneur Applications for Permanent Residence in Canada: Business Immigration to Canada

The Canadian government announced on October 2015 that Canada wants entrepreneurs! Canada’s Start-Up Visa is the first of its kind in the world, linking immigrant entrepreneurs with experienced private sector organizations that have expertise in working with start-ups:

Canada's Start-up Visa Program targets immigrant entrepreneurs with the skills and potential to build businesses in Canada that:

  • are innovative
  • can create jobs for Canadians
  • can compete on a global scale

Do you have an innovative business idea? If you can get support for your idea from one of the designated organizations, you may be able to immigrate to Canada.

There are many reasons why Canada is the best place to build your business. Canada's advantages include:

  • a strong economy
  • low taxes
  • low business costs
  • excellence in research and innovation
  • a high quality of life

Successful applicants to this program will be able to immigrate to Canada as Permanent Residents with no conditions attached to the success of their business.

What Is Canada's Start-Up Visa?

Naturally, it is not as easy as proclaiming yourself an entrepreneur and receiving immediate permanent residency. Qualifying for this program requires the following:

  • You will have to have to prove that a Canadian "angel investor" is committed to your business idea
  • You will have to pass standard health and security checks
  • You will have to demonstrate an ability to communicate fully in English or French. Applicants will need to take a CIC approved language test and hit the CLB 5 benchmark in one or both languages
  • You must have at least one proven year of study at a post-secondary institution
  • You will need to demonstrate that you have adequate income to support yourself while establishing the business (as well as your family if you have one immigrating with you). You cannot borrow this money from another person. You will need to prove you have this when submitting the application.

Clearly, this means that the first step is to obtain your financial commitment by an angel investor and the Canadian government has revealed its dedication to making this program a success by collabourating with several groups. CIC is aligned with Canada’s Venture Capital and Private Equity Association, the National Angel Capital Organization and the Canadian Acceleration and Business Incubation Association to identify the participating private sector organizations. A full list of designated organizations is made available at their website.

You will also want to spend time speaking to an immigration expert who is familiar with the new Start-up Visa program, and all other forms of visa programs.

Eligibility and Next Steps

Once you have the commitment in hand and a formal letter of support, you will need to prove that your business actually meets the formal ownership requirements. Currently, up to five people can apply for a visa as the owners of a single business. They must each have ten percent control and the designated organization (the angel investor) along with the applicants must have more than 50% voting rights as well. This must be shown when submitting the application along with the financial ability of the applicants.

You can obtain an application package from the CIC online, and it can be completed using a computer. You can learn about this at the Start-up Visa application page.

Naturally, it does take a lot of planning, and the first step is to be sure you can obtain solid financial backing and support through a designated organization. Once you have that letter of commitment, it is simply a matter of meeting the visa eligibility guidelines. Then you can be on your way to business ownership in Canada as a Permanent Resident.


Evelyn Ackah

Founder/Managing Lawyer

Ms. Ackah is passionate about immigration law because it focuses on people and relationships, which are at the core of her personal values. Starting her legal career as a corporate/commercial ...

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I have had the pleasure of working with Evelyn Ackah on various immigration, LMIA, permanent residency and border issues for the past seven years. Evelyn and her team are the ultimate resources for any employer seeking to navigate the ever changing legal climate in a timely and professional manner. Evelyn’s wealth of knowledge, experience and industry connections coupled with her ability to simplify complex legal processes have made her my ‘go-to’ resource for all issues pertaining to business immigration.

– Eileen Marley, Human Resources Business Partner - Corporate and Concord

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