Canada’s Start-up Visa Program is suitable for entrepreneurs who have the skills and potential to build businesses in Canada that are innovative and can create jobs for Canadians.
The Start-Up Visa program grants permanent residence to immigrant entrepreneurs while assisting them to become established in Canada.
The program encourages immigrant entrepreneurs to grow their companies in Canada. Successful applicants link with private sector organizations in Canada, where they can receive funding, guidance and expertise in opening and operating their enterprise in Canada.
The purpose of this program is to recruit innovative foreign national entrepreneurs who will create new jobs and drive economic growth. To be eligible for the Start-up Visa Program, you must:
- Have a qualifying business – up to 5 people can apply as owners. Each applicant must hold minimum 10% of the voting rights AND the applicants and the designated organization jointly hold more than 50% of the total voting rights attached to all shares of the corporation outstanding at that time;
Applicants must be aware that an essential part of the operations of the business happens in Canada and while the business is incorporated, at the time you receive your permanent residence, you provide active and ongoing management of this business from within Canada.
- Get a letter of support from a designated organization – Designated organizations are business group that have been approved to invest in or support possible start-ups.
- Meet the language requirements – You must meet the minimum level of the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 5 in either English or French in all these four areas of speaking, reading, listening and writing.
- Bring enough money to settle – When you apply, you will need to give proof that you have sufficient funds to settle in Canada. You cannot borrow this money from another person.
- Province of Quebec have their own investment program. When you apply, you must plan to settle in a province other than the Province of Quebec.
- Pass Canadian security and medical clearances;
Do you have an innovative business idea? If you can get support for your idea from one of the designated organizations, you may be able to immigrate to Canada.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has designated a number of venture capital funds, angel investor groups, and business incubator organizations to participate in the Start-Up Visa program. These organizations are able to assist entrepreneurs in establishing business contacts in Canada.
Successful applicants are required to secure a minimum investment for their Canadian start-up program. Applicants are not required to invest any of their own money. However, the minimum investments required are:
Below is a list of organizations the government has designated to work with entrepreneurs in the Start-Up Visa program.
Venture Capital Funds
A Venture Capital firm secures money from private investors and makes investments on their behalf. Applicants may require a seat on the company’s board of directors. You must get at least one of these groups to agree to invest a minimum of $200,000:
- ۷ Gate Ventures
- BCF Ventures
- BDC Venture Capital
- Celtic House Venture Partners
- Extreme Venture Partners LLP
- Golden Venture Partners Fund, LP
- Impression Ventures
- Innovation Platform Capital International LP
- iNovia Capital Inc.
- Lumira Capital
- Nova Scotia Innovation Corporation (o/a Innovacorp)
- Pangaea Ventures Ltd.
- PRIVEQ Capital Funds
- Real Ventures
- Relay Ventures
- ScaleUp Venture Partners, Inc.
- Top Renergy Inc.
- Vanedge Capital Limited Partnership
- Version One Ventures
- Westcap Management Ltd.
- Yaletown Venture Partners Inc.
- York Entrepreneurship Development Institute (YEDI) VC Fund
Angel Investor Groups
Business Angel Investor groups are comprised of individuals who invest their personal funds in an exciting business opportunity. You must get one or more investors connected to these groups to agree to invest a minimum of $75,000:
- Canadian International Angel Investors
- Ekagrata Inc.
- Golden Triangle Angel Network
- Keiretsu Forum Canada
- Oak Mason Investments Inc.
- Southeastern Ontario Angel Network
- TenX Angel Investors Inc.
- VANTEC Angel Network Inc.
- York Angel Investors Inc.
Applicants do not need to secure any investment from a Business Incubator. However, applicants must be accepted into one of these programs:
- Alacrity Foundation
- Alberta Agriculture and Forestry
- Biomedical Commercialization Canada Inc. (operating as Manitoba Technology Accelerator)
- Creative Destruction Lab
- Empowered Startups Ltd.
- Extreme Innovations
- Genesis Centre
- Highline BETA Inc.
- Interactive Niagara Media Cluster o/a Innovate Niagara
- Invest Ottawa
- Knowledge Park o/a Planet Hatch
- LatAm Startups
- Launch Academy – Vancouver
- LaunchPad PEI Inc.
- Millworks Centre for Entrepreneurship
- NEXT Canada
- North Forge Technology Exchange
- Platform Calgary
- Real Investment Fund III L.P. o/a FounderFuel
- Ryerson Futures Inc.
- Spark Commercialization and Innovation Centre
- Spring Activator
- The DMZ at Ryerson University
- Toronto Business Development Centre (TBDC)
- TSRV Canada Inc. (operating as Techstars Canada)
- Waterloo Accelerator Centre
- York Entrepreneurship Development Institute
Evidence of Commitment
In order to demonstrate that the applicant has obtained support from either a Venture Capital Fund, and/or Angel Investor Groups, and/or Business Incubators; the investor organization must submit a completed “Commitment Certificate” directly to IRCC. This document includes information regarding the agreement between the applicant and the investment organization. Its purpose is to summarize the relevant details of the commitment between the investment organization and the applicant.
In addition, the applicant will receive a “Letter of Support” from the investment organization, which the applicant will need to submit with their application for permanent residence. If there are two or more applicants as part of the same business venture, the commitment by the investment organization can be conditional upon one or more “essential persons” receiving their permanent residence. An essential person is someone who has been specifically identified as essential to the business by the investment organization. If for any reason the application of an essential person is refused, the applications of all others included in the Commitment Certificate will also be refused.
Support from Multiple Organizations
Applicants may receive support from multiple designated organizations, known as syndication. In this instance, all entities involved must be identified. Together, the designated organizations will provide IRCC with a single “Commitment Certificate” and one “Letter of Support” will be provided to the applicant(s).
As soon as a designated Venture Capital firm invests in a business, the minimum total investment amount that must be invested in that business is $200,000, even if a designated Angel Investor Group also invests in the same business.
If the 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 that business is $75,000.