Canada Startup Visa

The Start-Up Visa Program in Canada is designed to attract entrepreneurial talent from around the world, specifically tailored to those with promising business ideas. Start-Up Visa holders have the potential to not only create jobs but also contribute significantly to the Canadian economy by establishing and growing businesses. The Start-Up Visa (SUV) Canada immigration program has gained recognition for its role in attracting innovative entrepreneurs and fostering economic growth in the country. Obtaining a Start-Up Visa leads to permanent residence in Canada, paving the way for eventual Canadian citizenship.

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Key Features of the Canada StartUp Visa Program

The Start-Up Visa Program in Canada offers a range of unique features and benefits that sets it apart from other Canadian immigration pathways and start-up visas in other countries. For starters, one of the standout features of this program is that it leads to permanent residency. Applicants who are successful have the opportunity to become permanent residents along with their families. This allows them to live, work, and study all over Canada. Many entrepreneur programs that lead to immigration require applicants to make a significant investment into the country, but Canada does not. The program focuses on the innovative side of the start-up, fostering the business ideas and giving support to the entrepreneur instead of forcing them to invest. The program supports the applicant every step of the way, with a core emphasis on the innovation of building new businesses. It’s required for applicants to receive a commitment from a Canadian venture capital fund, angel investor group, or business incubator. This is to validate the potential of the business concept. The program’s aim is to attract top global talent around the world and these benefits are a way of fostering economic growth through the entrepreneur’s innovative ventures.

Canada Startup Visa Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible for the Start Up Visa Canada, you must have an innovative business concept that has the potential to create jobs and the potential to compete on a global scale. You must be able to secure a commitment from at least one designated Canadian organization that has experience in evaluating innovative business concepts. The organization has to provide you with a letter of support and you must submit it with your application. On top of having your business plan, you are required to be proficient in either English or French. You also must have completed at least one year of post-secondary education. It may enhance your application if you received your education in Canada. There is not a requirement for investing in the country, but you do need to be able to prove that you have sufficient funds to support yourself and your family. The financial amount you need to prove differs based on the size of your family, starting at $13,757 CAD if you’re immigrating alone.

Application Process

When applying for a Canada StartUp Visa, you need to apply online. The application requires a number of forms and supporting documents, if you are missing any required documents then your application will be denied without processing it. Required forms for anyone over 18 years old include the Generic Application Form for Canada (IMM 0008), Schedule A- Background/Declaration (IMM 5669), Additional Family Information (IMM 5406), and Supplementary Information- Your travels (IMM 5562). If they apply to you, you will also need to complete the Statutory Declaration of Comma-law Union (IMM 5409) and the Separation Declaration for Minor Travelling to Canada (IMM 5604). Other than the forms, you will need to submit a photo of each applicant and pay the fees online. On top of these forms, you need to submit a letter of support from a designated Canadian organization. In order to obtain one of these, you need to contact a designated organization and pitch your business plan to them, proving the potential of your business. If the organization sees potential in your innovative business, they will send you a letter of support which needs to be included in your application. You also need to submit medical exams, police certificates, and your language proficiency results before entering Canada. Once you have completed all of these, you can submit your application online.

Designated Organizations

Your business proposal must receive support from one or more of the designated Canadian organizations including venture capital funds, angel investor groups, or business incubators. These business groups are approved to invest or support potential start-ups coming to Canada with the Start-Up Visa.

Venture Capital Funds

There are quite a few venture capital funds that are among the designated organizations that can support a start-up visa application. Some of the designated companies include organizations such as BDC Venture Capital, Red Leaf Capital Corp, and Version One Ventures. You must incur a cost of at least $200,000 CAD when one of the designated venture capital funds invests in your innovative business. If they choose to support you, they must also provide you with a letter of support.

Angel Investor Groups

You can also propose your business plan to an angel investor group. There are eight designated angel investor groups that you can choose from, including Oak Mason Investments Inc and Keiretsu Forum Canada. You must get one or more investors that are connected to an angel investor group to invest $75,000 CAD into your business plan. They additionally must write you a letter of support for your application.

Business Incubators

There are many business incubators which you can work with if you choose to go this route. Business incubators include programs such as Brilliant Catalyst, Invest Ottawa, and Think8 Global Institute. You must be accepted into one of the business incubator programs. The program that accepts you must provide you with a letter of support.

Business Plan Requirements

A comprehensive business plan is a critical component to the StartUp Visa Canada application. It plays a pivotal role in demonstrating the potential of your innovative business. Your business plan allows the designated organizations to see the potential your business has to create jobs, grow, and make a positive contribution to the Canadian economy. The immigration authorities will use your plan to compare your proposed business with the criteria for the Start-Up Visa, making sure your goals align with the program.

A proper business plan should include an executive summary. This provides a concise overview of your business, why it is unique, and your short and long term goals. You need a business description that describes key components of your business in detail, including the product or services you offer, your target market, and how your business will address a gap in the market. You should include market research that you have conducted, demonstrating that you understand the industry and the market and your competition in Canada. A business plan should have marketing and sales strategies, financial projections, and an explanation of how you plan to use the investment from designated organizations. You should also specify how your business will create jobs in Canada. Finally, make sure to acknowledge the potential risks and challenges you might face and how you plan to face them as well as an exit strategy which will ensure a potential return on your stakeholders investments.

Required Documents for Canada Start-up Visa

The Start-Up Visa application is a large process that has a plethora of support documents that applicants need to submit. These documents will substantiate your eligibility for the program and your business concept. It is required that these documents are in either English or French. If your documents are in a different language, you must get them translated by a certified translator. Below is a list of Canada StartUp Visa requirements when submitting your application.

Commitment Certificate from a Designated Organization

You need to provide a letter of support from one or more designated Canadian venture capital funds, angel investor groups, or business incubators.

Language Test Results

Proof of language proficiency through language test results is required- these must be IELTS for English or TEF for French.

Educational Credentials

You must include copies of your educational credentials, such as a diploma, degree, or certificate, along with an Educational Credential Assessment report if you studied outside of Canada.

Settlement Funds

You must provide evidence of sufficient funds to support yourself and your family in Canada. This can be in the form of bank statements and other financial documents.

Passport and Travel History

It is required to submit a copy of your valid passport along with a history of your travel and immigration status.

Police Clearance Certificate

It is mandatory to include police clearance certificates or records from all countries that you have resided for six months or more since you were 18 years old.

Medical Examination Records

You must submit results of a medical examination conducted by an approved physician. You must meet Canada’s health and safety standards.

Digital Photographs

When submitting your application, it's important to include recent digital photographs that meet certain guidelines. These guidelines typically cover aspects such as the photo's dimensions, background, and clarity. Ensuring that your photographs follow these requirements is essential for a successful application.

Proof of Business Ownership

You must provide documentation showing your ownership in the business. This can be a shareholder’s agreement or articles of incorporation.

Business Plan

You must include your comprehensive business plan that outlines the innovation of your business concept, market research, financial projections, and how it will create jobs for Canadians.

Proof of Work Experience

You should provide documentation verifying your work experience, including reference letters, job descriptions, and employment contracts.

Certified Translations

If any of your documents are not in English or French, you must provide certified translations along with the original documents.

Processing Time

The processing time for a Canada Start Up Visa application usually takes around 12 to 16 months, but this can differ with the volume of applications being received. The processing time is always changing, and although 12 to 16 months being the average processing time, the current processing time is around 37 months. This takes the amount of time that it takes for the designated organizations to write you a letter of support and the amount of time the immigration authorities take to process your application. These times may be affected by the designated organization taking longer than normal to provide you with a letter of support, submitting an application with errors or missing documents, or needing additional information based on your personal application. The complexity of your business plan may also affect the amount of time it takes to process your application. Business plans that are more complex may require additional review.

Permanent Residency and Naturalization Path

The Canadian Start Up Visa provides a pathway to obtaining permanent residency in Canada, which can even eventually lead to obtaining Canadian citizenship. Once your Start-Up Visa is granted, then you will obtain permanent residency in the country, along with your immediate family members. In order to qualify for Canadian citizenship, permanent residents must meet a few obligations. In order to hold permanent residency, it is essential to make sure your business continues to create jobs and have a positive impact on economic growth. It is required to be in the country for at least 2 years (730 days) within the last 5 years to keep permanent residency.

The naturalization process refers to the process by which eligible permanent residents become Canadian citizens. To apply for Canadian citizenship, permanent residents must have spent at least 3 years (1,095 days) in the country within the last 5 years. It is required to have filed income taxes in Canada and it is mandatory to be proficient in either English or French if the applicant is between 18 and 54 years old. When applying for citizenship, applicants will be given a test on Canadian history, values, institutions, and symbols. If your citizenship is approved, you will be able to attend a citizenship ceremony where you will receive your official certificate.


There is no specific age limit for the Startup Immigration Canada program.

Yes, you can apply for the program while in Canada as a temporary resident. You must maintain your legal status in the country while the application is being processed.

Yes, it is required to own at least 10% of the voting rights in the business. Additionally, applicants and the designated entity must collectively hold more than 50% of the total voting rights attached to all outstanding shares of the corporation at that time.

If you wish to change your business idea once you have already received a letter of support from a designated organization, then you must consult with the organization. While it is possible that they will still wish to support you, it is possible that this decision will affect their support in your business. If they withdraw support from your business, you will lose your eligibility for the program.