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What is Start-up Investor Visa Program?

The Start-up Visa Program helps immigrant entrepreneurs to set up a business in Canada while being able to apply for Permanent Residency. The add-on benefit to get a Start-up Visa is that once you acquire a temporary work permit, you can launch your business in Canada and meanwhile apply for a PR. 

The Canadian economy has statistically sustained economic growth and the start-up visa program is one amongst many immigration initiatives that is designed for aspiring entrepreneurs to grow as a Canadian workforce. 

The Start-up Visa was launched as a pilot program in 2013 and was made a permanent program in 2017. Since then, it has made residing and running a business in Canada possible for hundreds of immigrant entrepreneurs. 

There are two broad categories of Start-up Visa, one for Canadian entrepreneurs and the other for foreign investors. In order to be eligible for an immigrant investor, he/she should have an already running business and a secured commitment from a designated investment incubator or organization. 

In order to be eligible for the start-up visa, the foreign entrepreneur must qualify for four major requirements, as discussed below.


What are the qualifying factors for a Start-up Visa program? 

1. Have a qualifying business

In order to be eligible for the start-up visa, the applicant must have an already existing business in which the applicant must hold a total of at least 10% voting rights attached to all shares of the business corporation. 

The applicant entrepreneur and the designated organization he is committed to must hold more than 50% of the voting rights of the business. Also, up to 5 partners can apply together as owners. 

Furthermore, the applicant must note that in order to procure a PR via start-up visa, the business must be incorporated in Canada with its essential management activities taking place in Canada by the foreign investor. 


2. Secure approval from a Canadian Designated Entity

One of the most important steps before applying for the start-up visa is to secure a commitment from a designated organization that shall help your business development in Canada. 

A designated organization’s commitment is considered only through a Letter of Support which must be included as part of your application. The Letters of Support that you receive are valid for 6 months from the date of issue.

There are three categories of the designated organizations:

Designated Angel Investor Group: A designated angel investor group has to invest a sum of at least $75,000 into the applicant’s business. The immigrant applicant can also qualify with more than one investment from the following angel investor groups that can total up to $75,000. 

  • York Angel Investors Inc. 
  • VANTEC Angel Network Inc.
  • TenX Angel Investors Inc. 
  • Oak Mason Investments Inc.
  • Southeastern Ontario Angel Network 
  • Keiretsu Forum Canada 
  • Golden Triangle Angel Network
  • Ekagrata Inc.
  • Canadian International Angel Investors


Designated Venture Capital Funds: A designated venture capital fund must confirm an investment of at least $200,000 into the applicant’s business. Here too, the applicant can qualify with more than one commitment from designated venture capital funds totaling up to $200,000.

  • Yor Entrepreneurship Development Institute (YEDI)
  • 7 Gate Ventures
  • BCF Ventures
  • BDC Venture Capital 
  • Yaledown Venture Partners Inc.
  • Westcap Management Ltd. 
  • Version One Ventures
  • Celtic House Venture Partners
  • Extreme Venture Partners LLP
  • Golden Venture Partners Fund, LP
  • Vanegde Capital Limited Partnership 
  • Top Renergy Inc.
  • Scaleup Venture Partners Inc.
  • Impression Ventures 
  • Innovation Platform Capital International LP
  • iNovia Capital Inc.
  • Lumira Ventures

  • Real Ventures
  • Nova Scotia Innovation Corporation
  • Relay Ventures 
  • PRIVEC Capital Funds
  • PANGEA Ventures Ltd.


Designated Business Incubators: A designated business incubator must accept the candidates into its business incubator program. The applicant can refer to the list below for their business venture. 

  • Alberta Agriculture and Forestry
  • Agrivalue Processing Business Incubator
  • Food Processing Development Centre
  • Alacrity Foundation
  • York Entrepreneurship Development Centre
  • Waterloo Accelerator Centre 
  • VIATEC
  • Biomedical Commercialisation Centre Canada Inc.
  • Creative Destruction Lab
  • Empowered Startups Ltd.
  • Extreme Innovation
  • Genesis Centre
  • Highline Beta Inc.
  • Innovacorp
  • TSRV Canada Inc.
  • Toronto Business Development Centre 
  • The DMZ at Ryerson University
  • Spring Activator
  • Interactive Niagara Media Cluster o/a Innovative 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 111 L.P
  • Ryerson Futures Inc.
  • Spark Commercialization and Innovation Centre 
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3.Qualify your Language Proficiency (in English or French)

Every immigrant applicant must have proficiency in one of Canada’s official languages, English or French. To be eligible for the Startup visa program each candidate must take a language proficiency test from an approved institution: 

For English:

  • CELPIP;

For French:

  • TEF
  • TCF

The qualifying test result must be of a CLB (Canadian Language Benchmark) Level 5 or higher. The test result must not be older than 2 years at the time of application. 


4. Meet IRCC’s proof of funds requirement

Foreign immigrant applicants must show that they have enough monetary funds to settle in Canada for themselves and their sponsored family.


Number offamily members Funds required(Canadian dollars)
1 $12,960
2 $16,135
3 $19,836
4 $24,083
5 $27,315
6 $30,806
7 $34,299
For each additional family member $3,492

A step-by-step guide to apply for Start-up Visa Program: 


If a foreign entrepreneur meets all the qualifying eligibility mentioned above, they must prepare and submit an application using form IMM 5759 on the IRCC website.  

All the components of the application form must be compiled together and sent by mail or courier directly to IRCC’s Centralized Intake Office in Sydney, Nova Scotia.


Step1: Complete your application form:

  • Fill out the Generic Application Form of Canada 
  • Go to the option “validate” on the form, and make sure that you filled all the required fields
  • Print the completed application form, and make sure you include the barcode page
  • Put your signature and date on the form


Step2: Check all the documents list

  • Gather all documents listed above 
  • Place all necessary documents in a single sealed envelope
  • Print out the document checklist and date it along with your signature
  • Include the checklist of all the documents as the cover page of your application


Pay your application fees

  • Application fees include your processing fees along with anyone else’s too listed on your form 
  • Another fee includes the right of PR fee
  • Any third-party fees including that of medical exams, police certificates, and language testing
  • The biometrics fees


Submit your application

  • Verify everything before submitting your application form 
  • Ensure that you have put your signature and right date all forms
  • Pay all the necessary processing fees and include receipts in your application
  • Include all supporting documents to complete the process. 
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What is the application fee and processing time for the start-up visa?


The application fee for the Start-up Visa Program is $1,575 CAD.

$500 CAD is that of permanent residence, $825 CAD is paid for an accompanying spouse/common-law partner plus a $500 right of permanent residence fee, and $225 per dependent child. 

Processing of application generally takes 12-16 months. However, as mentioned above, the applicant can apply for a temporary work permit enabling them to start their business in Canada before the approval of their permanent residence application. 

Once your application is approved, the principal applicant and the sponsored family members will receive Canadian permanent resident status.

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