Canada Startup Visa

Canada Startup Visa and Entrepreneur visa Program

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

If an entrepreneur can get support for their start up idea from one of the designated organizations, they may be able to immigrate to Canada.

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

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

To be eligible for the Start-up Visa Program:

Business to be supported by a designated organization

Before an entrepreneur can apply for the Start-up Visa Program, they must have the support of a designated organization. Designated organisations are business groups that have been approved by Canadian government to invest in or support possible start-ups.

If a designated organization decides to support the start-up business, it will give a Letter of Support which is essential document for Start up Visa application.

Investment Requirements

Entrepreneur must secure a minimum investment of $200,000 if the investment comes from a designated Canadian venture capital fund.

Entrepreneur must secure a minimum investment of $75,000 if the investment comes from a designated Canadian angel investor group.

Entrepreneur does not need to secure any investment from a business incubator. However, entrepreneur must be accepted into a Canadian business incubator program.

Ownership requirements

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

  • Each applicant must hold at least 10 percent of the voting rights in the business and
  • The designated organization and the applicants must jointly hold more than 50 per cent of the voting rights in the business.

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

Language requirements

The ability to communicate and work in English, French, or both will help entrepreneur business succeed in Canada.

An entrepreneur must take a language test from an approved agency and include the results with their application

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

  • speaking
  • reading
  • listening
  • writing

Fund requirements

An Entrepreneur must show that they have enough money to support themselves and their dependants after they arrive in Canada. They cannot borrow this money from another person. They will need to give proof that they have the money when they apply.

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

Number of Family MembersFunds 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 organizations – such as Business Incubators – are business groups that have been approved to invest in or support possible start-ups.

Organizations choose which business proposals to review. If one decides to review yours, it will assess the potential of your proposal and whether or not it will succeed. Each organization has its own intake process for proposals and criteria used to assess them.

If an organization chooses to support your business idea, it will give you a Letter of Support.

To apply for the Start-up Visa Program, your business idea or venture must get the support of one of the designated organizations listed below

Designated Business Incubators

You must be accepted into one of these programs:

  • Alacrity Foundation
  • Alberta Agriculture and Forestry
    • Agrivalue Processing Business Incubator
    • 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 Angel Investor Groups

You must get one or more investors connected to these groups to agree to invest a minimum of $75,000:

  • Angel One Network Inc.
  • Canadian International Angel Investors
  • First Angel Network Association
  • Golden Triangle Angel Network
  • Oak Mason Investments Inc.
  • TenX Angel Investors Inc.
  • VANTEC Angel Network Inc.

Designated Venture Capital Funds

You must get one or more of these groups to agree to invest a minimum of $200,000:

  • BDC Venture Capital
  • Blackberry Partners Fund II LP (doing business as Relay Ventures Fund II)
  • Celtic House Venture Partners
    • Celtic House Venture Partners Fund III LP
    • Celtic House Venture Partners Fund IV LP
  • DRI Capital Inc.
  • Extreme Venture Partners LLP
  • Golden Opportunities Fund Inc.
  • iNovia Capital Inc.
  • Lumira Capital
  • New Brunswick Innovation Foundation Inc.
  • OMERS Ventures Management Inc.
  • Pangaea Ventures Fund III, LP
  • PRIVEQ Capital Funds
    • PRIVEQ III Limited Partnership
    • PRIVEQ IV Limited Partnership
  • Real Ventures
  • Rho Canada Ventures
  • Summerhill Venture Partners Management Inc.
  • Tandem Expansion Management Inc.
  • Top Renergy Inc.
  • Vanedge Capital Limited Partnership
  • Version One Ventures
  • Wellington Financial LP
  • Westcap Mgt. Ltd.
    • Canadian Accelerator Fund Ltd.
  • Yaletown Venture Partners Inc.

Questions About Start-up Visa

How can I qualify to get a Start-up Visa?

Your application to come to Canada through the Start-up Visa program will be assessed on a pass/fail basis. Four requirements must be met. You must :

  • have a Letter of Support from a designated angel investor group, venture capital fund or business incubator
  • meet the ownership requirements for a qualifying business
  • get scores of at least Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 5 in all four categories for either English or French, and
  • have an adequate amount of money to settle and provide for the cost of living prior to earning an income.

If these requirements are met, your application will be reviewed based on CIC's standard admissibility criteria, including health, criminality and security. CIC may request an independent peer review to ensure that due diligence was performed by the designated organization that issued your Letter of Support.

What do I need to do to get support from an investor organization?

You will need to contact an organization that has been designated as eligible to participate in the Start-up visa Program.

You will need to convince a designated organization that you have a business idea that is worth supporting.

If you reach an agreement with a designated organization, it will send you a Letter of Support. This is proof required by CIC to show that the angel investor group, venture capital fund or business incubator is supporting your business idea.

How do I show that I have the support of Canadian investors?

The designated organization will give you a Letter of Support once you reach an agreement. You need to include this letter when you submit your application to CIC.

The designated organization will also send a Commitment Certificate directly to CIC. CIC will use both your Letter of Support and the organization's Commitment Certificate to assess your application.

What is the minimum investment that I would need to apply for a start-up visa?

You must secure a minimum investment of $200,000 if the investment comes from a designated Canadian venture capital fund.

You must secure a minimum investment of $75,000 if the investment comes from a designated Canadian angel investor group.

You do not need to secure any investment from a business incubator. However, you must 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?

No, you are not required to invest any of your own money. The minimum investment required is an investment that comes from a Canadian venture capital fund or angel investor group that 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 multiple designated venture capital funds or angel investor groups is known as syndication. If you have syndicated support, then all investment entities involved in the syndication must be identified. Only one Commitment Certificate will be sent electronically to CIC and one Letter of Support will be provided to you.

As soon as a designated venture capital firm invests in your business, then the minimum total investment amount that must be invested in your business is $200,000, even if a designated angel group also invests in your business.

If your business receives support from at least one designated angel group, but not designated venture capital groups, then the minimum total investment amount that must 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 Government of Canada does not give financial support to new Start-up Visa immigrants.

You must show that you have enough money to support yourself and your dependants after you arrive in Canada. You cannot borrow this money from another person. You will need to give proof that you have the money when you apply.

The amount you will need depends on the size of your family. We update these amounts every year.

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?

Failure of your business will not affect your permanent resident status. We recognize that not every business will succeed and this program is designed so that the risk is shared between the public and private sector.


Apply | International Start Up Track

Eligibility
  • Applicant is the venture’s founder; co-founder(s) will be considered;
  • Any adult age or background;
  • A unique and innovative idea that is in raw, seed, early, or growth stage;
  • For-profit startup
  • Applicant(s) is able to arrive to Toronto, ON for program. Successful applicants will receive a letter of invitation from an APS recommended education facility, in order to obtain appropriate visa;
  • An ability to communicate in English equivalent to a minimum of Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 5;
  • Completion of one year of study in a post-secondary institution;
Apply

Our services:

We can assist you in choosing the right path to be chosen by a designated organisation.

Our guidance will help you in setting up a relationship with a Designated Organisation (Incubator, Angel group or a Venture Capitalist group). Designated organizations are business groups that have been approved by ICCRC to invest in or support possible start-ups.

ICCRC’s Approved Organizations choose which business proposals to review. If one organisation decides to review your start up, it will assess the potential of your proposal and whether or not it will succeed. Each organization has its own intake process for proposals and criteria used to assess them. Our job is to help you present the proposal in the way that the designated organisations like to receive them for the maximum chances of acceptance.

If an organization chooses to support your business idea, it will give you a Letter of Support.

Please contact us, to apply for the Start-up Visa Program and speak to our experts

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