The Start-up Visa Program in Canada: Innovation and Permanent Residency

Canada, known for its welcoming attitude towards immigrants, has established a unique program called the Start-up Visa Program. The program is designed to attract innovative entrepreneurs from around the world to start their businesses in Canada. This initiative provides a streamlined pathway for foreign entrepreneurs to obtain permanent residency in Canada by founding a start-up or partnering with a promising start-up to come to Canada and establish its technology in the North American ecosystem. The program targets immigrant entrepreneurs with the potential to build businesses in Canada that:

    • are innovative;
    • can create jobs for Canadians; and
    • can compete on a global scale.

To be eligible for the Start-up Visa Program, applicants must meet the following requirements:

    1. Have a Letter of Support from a Designated Organization (i.e. Canadian venture capital fund, angel investor group, or business incubator);
    2. Meet ownership requirements to be considered a Qualifying Business;
    3. A sufficient Language Test Scores in English;
    4. Proof that they have Sufficient Funds to support themselves in Canada.

Given the current processing time of 36 months, applicants and their families are eligible to obtain work permits that are eligible for 1 year to start their companies in Canada while waiting for their permanent residency applications to be accepted.

Prior to applying, potential applicants should focus on the following steps to increase their eligibility for the Start-up Visa Program:

    1. Develop a Business Plan: Create a comprehensive business plan that outlines the innovative nature of your start-up, its scalability and competitive advantage, and the potential benefits it can bring to Canada’s economy;
    2. Research Designated Organizations: Identify and establish connections with designated venture capital funds, angel investor groups, or business incubators that align with your start-up’s industry and goals; and.

The Government plans to admit 465,000 permanent residents to Canada in 2023, 485,000 in 2024 and 500,000 in 2025. Of these totals, the Government of Canada plans to allocate approximately 3,500 in 2023, 5,000 in 2024 and 6,000 in 2025 admissions for federal business, including the Start-up Visa Program.

Compared to other Canadian permanent residency programs, the Start-up Visa Program offers unique advantages:

    1. No Minimum Requirement: Unlike other programs, the Start-up Visa Program does not impose a specific net worth requirement. In addition, applicants are not assessed on a points-based system. This flexibility makes the program accessible to international entrepreneurs regardless of their financial capacity or personal history.
    2. Supportive Ecosystem: Canada’s vibrant and supportive start-up ecosystem provides entrepreneurs with access to funding, human capital, mentorship, networking opportunities, and government support programs.
    3. Unconditional Permanent Residence: If the start-up is unsuccessful, individuals will retain their permanent residence status.

Canada’s Start-up Visa Program offers a promising opportunity for international entrepreneurs to not only pursue their innovative ideas but also obtain permanent residency in a country that values diversity and entrepreneurship. By meeting the requirements of the Start-up Visa Program, aspiring entrepreneurs gain access to the vibrant Canadian start-up ecosystem and the opportunity to become valued members of a multicultural and welcoming Canadian community.

Please contact us to see if the Start-up Visa Program is the right Canadian immigration pathway for you.


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