Start Up Visa Program

Canada’s Start-up Visa Program helps immigrant entrepreneurs to establish businesses in Canada by allowing foreign business owners and their families to apply for permanent resident status. While waiting for their permanent residence, foreign entrepreneurs who have applied to the Start-up Visa Program are eligible for a temporary work permit, allowing them to travel to Canada to launch their business.

Since launching as a pilot program in 2013, the Start-up Visa Program has admitted hundreds of immigrant business owners to Canada, with the number of admissions increasing each year.

As the Canadian economy continues to experience a sustained period of economic growth, the Start-up Visa Program is one of many immigration initiatives designed to help talented foreign workers find a home in the Canadian workforce.

The Start-up Visa Program is ideal for entrepreneurs with an existing business that is ready for investors. In order to be eligible to apply to the Start-up Visa Program, applicants must have already created their business and secured commitment from a designated Canadian business investment organization or incubator.

How to qualify for the Start-up Visa
There are four major requirements that entrepreneurial applicants must meet in order to apply for a start-up visa.

1. Have a qualifying business
To be considered a qualifying business, entrepreneur applicants must have created a business in which each applicant for immigration holds at least 10 percent of the voting rights attached to all shares of the corporation. Up to five newcomers can apply together as owners. As well, the applicants and the designated organization must jointly hold more than 50 percent of the total voting rights.

In order to secure permanent residence through the Start-up Visa Program, applicants must ensure that the business becomes incorporated within Canada with essential activities taking place in Canada through the active management of the foreign entrepreneurs.

2. Secure commitment from a Designated Entity
Before applying to the Start-up Visa Program, foreign entrepreneurs must secure the commitment of a designated organization that will support the business’ development in Canada.

3. Prove ability in English or French
All applicants for the Start-up Visa Program must demonstrate proficiency in one of Canada’s official languages, either English or French. To qualify for the program, candidates must show results from an approved language test demonstrating ability at Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) Level 5 or higher. The test results must be less than two years old at the time of application.

4. Meet IRCC’s proof of funds requirement
Interested applicants must show that they have enough money to support settlement in Canada for themselves and their family members.

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