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Canada Startup Visa and Entrepreneur Visa Program

The Start-up Visa Program in Canada aims at immigrant entrepreneurs with the skills and potential for building businesses in the country that:

  • Are innovativef
  • Can create jobs for individuals in Canada
  • Can compete on an international scale

If an entrepreneur is able to get the required support for their start-up idea from one of the selected companies, they are likely to immigrate to Canada.

There are a number of reasons why Canada is a great place for building a business. Some of the greatest advantages include

  • A strong economy
  • Low taxes
  • Low business costs
  • Excellence in research and innovation
  • High quality of life

To be eligible for the Start-Up Visa Program:

Businesses to be supported by a designated company

Before an entrepreneur chooses to apply for the Start-up Visa Program, they are required to have the support of a designated company. Designated companies are business groups that have been approved by the Government of Canada for investing in or supporting possible start-ups.

If a designated company decides for supporting the start-up business, it will give a Letter of Support – it is a crucial document for a Start-up Visa application.

Investment Requirements

Entrepreneurs are obliged to secure a minimum investment of $200,000 if the investment comes from a designated angel investor group in Canada.

There is no need for an entrepreneur to secure any investment from a business incubator. Entrepreneurs have got to be accepted into a Canadian business incubator program.

Ownership Requirements

For the Start-up Visa Program, up to five people can apply for it as owners of a single business. However, to be able to meet the following ownership requirements:

  • Each applicant must hold no less than 10 percent of the voting rights in the business
  • The designated organization and the candidates are required to jointly hold over 50 percent of the voting rights in the business.

Note: Voting rights are the business owner’s rights within a company. The right to vote is attached to the business’s each share that is excellent at a given time.

Language Requirements

For the entrepreneur’s business to succeed in Canada, they should have the ability to communicate and work in English, French, or both.

An entrepreneur has to take a language test from an approved agency and incorporates the results with their application.

An entrepreneur should meet the minimum level of the CLB (Canadian Language Benchmark) 5 in either English or French in all of these four areas:

  • Speaking
  • Reading
  • Listening
  • Writing

Fund Requirements

An entrepreneur is required to show that they have sufficient money for supporting themselves and their dependents after arriving in Canada. No other person can lend them this money. However, they will need to give proof that they have the required money when they apply.

The amount an entrepreneur will need depends on the family size. The funds required as per the directives of the government are mentioned below:

Number of Family Members Funds Required (in Canadian Dollars)
1 $12,300
2 $15,312
3 $18,825
4 $22,856
5 $25,923
6 $29,236
7 $32,550
For each additional family member $3,314


Business Incubators

Designated companies, such as business incubators, are business groups that have been approved for investing in or supporting possible start-ups.

Companies select which business proposals to analyze. If one decides to assess yours, it will analyze the potential of your proposal and whether or not it will be successful. Each company has its own intake process for proposals as well as criteria used for their evaluation.

If a company opts to support the idea of your business, it will give you a Letter of Support.

To apply for the Start-up Visa Program, your business idea or venture has to get the support of one of the designated companies mentioned below:

Designated Business Incubators

You must be accepted into one of these programs:

  • Alacrity Foundation
  • Alberta Agriculture and Forestry

Ø  Agrivalue Processing Business Incubator

Ø  Food Processing Development Centre

  • Canada Accelerator Co (d/b/a HIGHLINE)
  • Communitech
  • The DMZ at Ryerson University
  • Empowered Startups Ltd.
  • Extreme Innovations
  • Genesis Centre
  • INcubes Inc.
  • Innovacorp
  • Innovate Calgary
  • Interactive Niagara Media Cluster o/a Innovate Niagara
  • Invest Ottawa
  • Istuary Idea Labs
  • Knowledge Park o/a Planet Hatch
  • Launch Academy
  • LaunchPad PEI Inc.
  • NEXT Canada
  • Real Investment Fund III L.P. o/a FounderFuel
  • Ryerson Futures Inc.
  • Spark Centre
  • Spring Activator
  • Toronto Business Development Centre
  • Waterloo Accelerator Centre
  • York Entrepreneurship Development Institute

Designated Venture Capital Funds

Questions about Start-Up Visa

How Can I Qualify to Get a Start-up Visa?

Your application for coming to Canada through the Start-up Visa Program will be evaluated on a pass/fail basis. Four requirements should be met. You are required to

  • Have a Letter of Support from a selected angel investor group, venture capital fund, or business incubator
  • Meet the ownership requirements for a business meeting the criteria
  • Get scores of no less than CLB (Canadian Language Benchmark) 5 in all four categories for English or French
  • Have an ample amount of money to settle and provide for the living cost before earning an income

If all these requirements are met, your application will be assessed based on the standard permissibility criteria of the CIC. It includes health, criminality, and security. CIC is likely to request an independent peer analysis to make sure that due diligence was carried out by the chosen organization that issued your Letter of Support.

What Do I Need to Do to Get Support from an Investor Organization?

You will have to get in touch with an organization that has been selected as eligible for participating in the Start-up Visa Program.

You will need to persuade a designated organization to prove your business idea is worth their support.

If you come to an agreement with a designated organization, you will be sent a Letter of Support. This is proof that CIC requires showing that the angel investor group, venture capital fund, or business incubator supports your business idea.

How Do I Show that I Have the Support of Canadian Investors?

You will be given a Letter of Support by a designated organization once you come to an agreement. You need to incorporate this letter when your application is submitted to CIC.

Also, the designated organization will send a Commitment Certificate to CIC. The Letter of Support and the organization’s Commitment Certificate will be used by CIC to evaluate your application.

What is the Minimum Investment That I Would Need to Apply for a Start-up Visa?

You are required to secure a minimum investment of $200,000. This is when the investment comes from a designated venture capital fund in Canada.

You should secure a minimum investment of $75,000 if the investment comes from an angel investor group in Canada.

There is no need to secure any investment from a business incubator. However, you ought to be accepted into a Canadian business incubator program.

Will I Have to Invest My Own Money if I Want to Apply for a Start-up Visa?  

There is no need to invest your money. The minimum investment required is an investment that comes from a venture capital fund or angel investor group in Canada, which has been named as a participant in the program.

What Happens If I Receive Investment Support from Multiple Designated Venture Capital Funds or Angel Investor Organizations?

Receiving support from angel investor groups or numerous designated venture capital funds is called syndication. If you have syndicated support, then each investment entity incorporated in the syndication ought to be identified. Only one Commitment Certificate will be sent electronically to CIC and you will be provided with one Letter of Support.

The moment a designated venture capital firm invests in your business, the minimum total investment amount, which is required to be invested in your business, is $200,000. This is when a designated angel group invests in your business as well.

If your business receives support from no less than one designated angel group, but not designated venture capital groups, then the minimum total investment amount that should be invested in your business is $75,000.

How Much Money Will I Need to Show that I Can Cover Living Expenses When I Get to Canada?

The Canadian Government does not offer financial support to new Start-up Visa immigrants.

You have to show that you have an ample amount of money for supporting yourself and your dependents after arriving in Canada. This money cannot be borrowed from another person. When you apply, you will have to give proof that you have the money.

The size of your family determines how much money you need. These amounts are updated every year.

The Number of Family Members Funds Required (in Canadian Dollars)
1 $12,300
2 $15,312
3 $18,825
4 $22,856
5 $25,923
6 $29,236
7 $32,550
For each additional family member $3,314


If I Have a Start-up Visa, What Happens if My Business Fails?

If your business fails, it is not going to have an adverse effect on your permanent resident status. We recognize that not every business will be successful, and this program is designed so that the risk is shared between the public and private sectors.

Apply | International Start-Up Track


  • The applicant is the venture’s founder; co-founder(s) will be considered
  • Any adult age or background
  • A unique and innovative idea that is the raw, seed, early, or growth stage
  • For-profit start-up
  • Applicant(s) is able to arrive in Toronto, ON, for the program. Successful candidates will receive a letter of invitation from an APS-recommended education facility, in order to obtain the right visa

An ability to converse in English equivalent to a minimum of CLB (Canadian Language Benchmark) 5

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