The Entrepreneur Start-Up Visa Program

The Canadian government welcomes entrepreneurs who have innovative business ideas and the support of Canadian business development and investment organizations. The Start-Up Visa program is designed to attract new immigrants and provide them with opportunities to establish their businesses in Canada while they, in turn, create employment and growth opportunities in the province or territory that they choose to settle in. They do this by enabling successful applicants to connect with private sector organizations that will provide them with start-up funds and Canadian business guidance.

It should be noted that while successful applicants are asked to make every effort to ensure that their business succeeds, they will not lose their permanent resident status should things not work out as intended.

Am I eligible for the Entrepreneur Start-Up Visa Program?

You may be eligible to apply for this program if you meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • You can show that you have the financial means to support yourself upon arrival in Canada
  • You intend to settle in a province or territory other than Quebec (which has its own immigration programs)
  • You can show that your business has the support of a designated organization
  • You can show that you business meets the ownership requirements
  • You have English or French proficiency of at least Level 5 on the Canadian Language Benchmark (CBL)

How can I demonstrate that I have the support of an organization?

In order to be considered for permanent residence under this program, you will need to obtain the following:

  • An investment of at least $200,000 from a designated venture capital fund, or $75,000 from a designated angel investor group
  • Acceptance into a designated business incubator program

The investment organization or business incubator will be required to submit a Commitment Certificate directly to Immigration, Refugees & Citizenship Canada (IRCC). This document details the agreement between you and the organization. At the same time, the organization must provide you with a letter of support, which you will need to submit with your application for permanent residence

In the case of syndication, where you receive a commitment of support from more than one designated organization, they must all be named on your application. They can collectively provide IRCC with one Commitment Certificate, and they can send you one letter of support

Can I bring a business partner or associate to Canada with me?

IRCC allows up to five people to submit permanent residence applications that pertain to the same business venture. In this case, at least one of the individuals will be named as an “essential person”, without whom the business venture cannot succeed. The applications of the other individuals are conditional on acceptance of the of applications of the essential persons.

What is the peer review process?

The peer review process has been introduced as a measure to combat fraud and ensure that the agreements between designated investment organizations and international business ventures are valid. At the discretion of IRCC, a commitment may be subjected to an independent assessment by one of the following organizations

  • National Angel Capital Organization
  • Venture Capital & Private Equity Association

The peer review is not designed to provide a commentary on the feasibility of the business; instead, it is done to ensure that the investment organization has performed the necessary due diligence on the business it is supporting. This due diligence should include the following:

  • Verification that the business ownership meets the requirements of the program
  • Verification that the business will be incorporated in Canada
  • Confirmation that the business has been admitted into a business incubator program
  • A thorough evaluation of the proposed business model, confirmation that the business is focusing on a product or service with high growth potential, and an assessment of the management team
  • Verification of the ownership of intellectual property

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