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How Foreign Entrepreneurs can start their Canadian life with the Start-Up Visa Program

Updated: Apr 30, 2023

Are you an entrepreneur with an innovative business idea capable of creating jobs and potentially competing on a global scale? If yes, Canada’s Start-up Visa Program (“Program”) is for you. Read on to know how you can make Canada your new home!

The Program was introduced to address the demographic and labor market challenges faced by Canada. To maintain its economic growth and competitiveness, and aims to welcome new and innovative talent. While there is no definitive list of businesses set out under the Program, some of the successful business ideas include tech startups, e-commerce ventures, digital media companies, and renewable energy projects, among others, as these require a focus on innovation.

To apply for the Program, your business idea must receive support and funding from one or more of the Designated Organizations i.e., Venture Capital Funds ($200,000), Angel Investor Groups ($75,000), or Business Incubators, as identified by IRCC.

Your application may be subjected to an independent Peer Review process to protect against fraud and ensure that the business activities are aligned with the industry standards for the support offered by Designated Organization.


Other eligibility requirements to qualify for the program include the following:

1. It must be a business that meets the requirements stated to be referred to as Qualifying Business, i.e.,

a. each applicant must hold 10% or more of voting rights and the applicants along with the Designated Organization jointly hold more than 50% of the voting rights when you get the Letter of Support from the Designated Organization;

b. the business is incorporated in Canada, an essential part of the business operations is based there and the applicant provides active and ongoing management of the business at the time of receipt of the Canadian Permanent Residency.

2. You must meet the language requirements to communicate and run a successful business in Canada. The Program requires you to achieve CLB 5 in English or French in all 4 areas – speaking, writing, listening, and reading through a language test from an approved agency.

3. To run the business and support yourself and the dependents, you are required to submit proof of funds along with the application. The amount for proof of funds depends on the size of the family relocating with you and it is updated every year by IRCC. It is crucial to bring in enough funds to transition smoothly and restart your business life in a new country.

With an approximate processing time of 35 months and a fee of $2,140, the Government of Canada recognizes the business needs and thereby allows you, the foreign national who has received the Letter of Support and a Commitment Certificate from the Designated Organization, to apply for a temporary work permit. This work permit is not an open work permit, i.e., it is issued only to support you to establish and/or continue to run the business in Canada while your Permanent Residency application filed under the Program is being evaluated by IRCC.

The Designated Organization is required to indicate why the applicant is urgently needed in Canada before they have become a permanent resident to issue a temporary work permit.


IRCC evaluates the application if the following are met:

1. You meet the eligibility criteria

2. You have sufficient funds to support yourself and your dependents on arrival in Canada

3. You pass the medical examination and police certificate

On approval, you will be issued a Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR) and your entry visa to enable you to travel. IRCC does not extend COPR, so ensure to use it before its expiry.

It is noteworthy that your permanent resident status is not affected even if the business fails. The Program intends on sharing this risk of failure between the public and private sectors.

As of October 14, 2022, you are mandatorily required to apply online under the Program. While submitting the application, all answers must be true and complete. Error in the same can lead to refusal of the application and you could even be banned for the next 5 years from applying to enter Canada for any reason.

At Yanique Russell Law, we assist clients with an interest in the Program through our turnkey solutions. With the expertise of our Immigration Lawyer, we ensure that all applications are submitted error-free, avoiding any delays and hassles in the process. Learn how we can help you or directly schedule a consultation call here.

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