If you are a talented and brillant entrepreneur capable of creating a business in Canada that (i) is original and creative, (ii) will create work opportunities for residents, and (iii) could become an international player. This article will let you know the eligibility requirement, the application process and supporting documents you need to succeed in your application.

In order for you to be eligible for the Start-up Visa Program, you have five main requirements that you need to fulfill:

  1. Prove that your business is supported by a designated organization (see below). Those are Canadian venture capital firms, angel investors groups and business incubators, that need to issue you a Letter of Support. You need to contact them directly to ask for support.
  2. Show that the designated organization(s) that supports you hold(s) at least 50% of voting rights in the business and that you and a maximum of 4 others persons, hold the remaining 50% of voting rights, each one having at least 10% of voting rights.
  3. Prove that you meet the minimum language requirements, either in French or in English. You must meet the minimum level of the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 5 in all of these four areas: speaking, reading, listening, and writing. You can learn more about the French test and the English test requirement here.
  4. Bring enough money to settle. The amount needed, updated every year, depends on the number of family members that are coming with you. You will need to show proof that you own the money and that it is not borrowed. The funds must be readily transferable funds in a convertible currency. Find out more here.
  5. You must not intend to live in the province of Quebec.

The list of Designated Organizations that could help your application for the start-up visa program is set by Immigration, Refugees, and Immigration Canada (IRCC). You will have to contact them yourself to pitch your ideas and convince them to invest in your ideas. 

You can find the full list of Designated Organizations here.

You can only apply on paper. After filling and signing the required forms, gathering your supporting documents, and paying your fees, you will need to mail your application package to this address.

In regards to forms to fill and supporting documents to provide, we invite you to check our dedicated guide on the matter.

Based on your nationality, you could be required to give your biometrics (fingerprints scanning and photograph) for a fee of $85. Verify here if you are required to give them.

The sponsored person and their dependents will need to pass a Medical Exam with an IRCC approved doctor.

When applying to the Start-up Visa Program, you must pay a $1,575 Business Immigration application fee in addition to the $500 Right of Permanent Residence fee. You can pay your fees ($2,075) online here

For your spouse or common-law partner, you also need to pay a $825 Application fee and a $500 Right of Permanent Residence fee. For each dependent child, you need to add $225.

The processing fees are not refundable if the application processing started. The Right of Permanent Residence fee is refundable if the application is rejected, if you decide to cancel your application, or if you decide not to come to Canada.

Quebec has its own Businesspeople Immigration Programs. The Quebec equivalent of the Start-up Visa Program is the Entrepreneur Program.

It is quite different from the Federal program as you will need a minimum net worth of $900,000, and intend to invest at least $300,000 if inside de Montréal area, or $200,000 if outside. You won’t need to have your business supported by a designated organization.

The processing times are very slow, you might need to wait up to 5 years to get your “Certificate de Selection du Québec” (CSQ) after paying a little more than a $1000 fee for the CSQ application. And you will need then to apply to the federal government for your permanent residence, which can take a few months.

You can learn more about this program and how to apply here.

A Start-up Visa application is processed approximately within 12 to 16 months.

​You can find out the processing times here. You need to select “Economic Class”, then “Start-up Visa”.