What is the start-up visa program?

The start-up visa program is for entrepreneurs who want to start a business in Canada.

Which kinds of businesses qualify for the start-up visa program?

This immigration program applies to entrepreneurs who want to start a business that:

  • Is innovative.
  • Can create jobs for Canadians.
  • Can be internationally competitive.

For detailed information on the eligibility criteria for the program, visit Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada’s (IRCC) web page about the program's eligibility.

Before You Apply

There are four main criteria that you and your business must meet before you are eligible for the start-up visa program.

1. Have the Support of a Designated Organization

Your start-up or new business must receive support fromdesignated organization before you can participate in the visa program.

These investors are Canadian venture capital funds, angel investors and business incubators who all have their own application process and selection criteria. Make sure you research each organization carefully to find the best match for your business idea.

If your business idea is selected by a designated organization, you will receive a letter of support that you must include in your application.

2. Business Ownership Criteria

Five people can apply for a start-up visa for the same business so long as:

  • Each applicant controls at least 10% of the voting rights of the business.
  • The designated organization and the applicants together control more than 50% of the business’ voting rights.

3. Language Requirements

Each applicant must prove that they meet or exceed the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 5 in either English or French in:

  • Speaking
  • Reading
  • Listening and
  • Writing

4. Your Financial Requirements

In your application, you will have to prove you have enough money to support yourself and any dependents who are coming with you to Canada.

IRCC’s eligibility page outlines how much money you must have depending on the number of dependents that are included in your application.

For More Information

Last updated: April 1, 2019 4006296