June 17, 2021

David Hill

Start-up visa to Canada — how to get one and move your business to Canada

Canada is widely considered one of the easiest countries in the world to start a business. Natural resources are abundant in the country, the labor force is highly skilled, and the government is stable.

Entrepreneurs and investors who wish to immigrate to Canada with their business ventures can choose from a variety of options, including the Provincial Nominee Program and Start-up Visa Program. Upon successful completion of your business immigration application, your entire family can move to Canada.

Canada Start-Up Visa Program is the first of its kind in the world and is a pilot project for immigration to Canada. As part of the Start-Up Visa Program, successful applicants are connected with private sector organizations based in Canada that assist with funding, as well as guiding them through the process of establishing and operating a business in Canada. Successful applicants will become permanent residents of Canada under this new immigration program. 

Note: Those interested in starting their own business in Quebec cannot participate in this program.

The Canadian government is looking for newcomers who have entrepreneurship skills and are talented and innovative enough to start, run, or buy a business in the country. The government believes that the Canadian economy can continue to grow and diversify through foreign investment.

Canadian Immigration Start-Up Visa Eligibility Requirements

1. Commitment Certificate and Letter of Support

A letter of support is obtainable from an investor organization. It is given to applicants who can convince an angel investor group or venture capital fund to invest in their proposed venture. Citizen and Immigration Canada must also be provided with a Commitment Certificate by the investor organization, summarizing the plans and commitments of the investor.

Entrepreneurs who wish to immigrate to Canada must meet the due diligence requirements of government-approved designated entities and have or develop a viable business idea.  In the Canadian start-up ecosystem, business consultants and corporate immigration lawyers are responsible for ensuring that start-up business plans comply with all conditions required by the industry.

2. Investment Requirement

For investment from a designated venture capital fund, applicants must secure at least CAD 200,000, and for an angel investor group, at least CAD 75,000. For this Canadian immigration program, applicants do not have to invest any of their own money.

3. Language Requirement

It is essential that the applicant can speak English and/or French fluently. The applicant must provide testing results from a recognized agency and must have an English or French CLB 5 level at the minimum.

4. Academic Requirement

Applicants must have completed one year of postsecondary study. Furthermore, the applicant must show evidence of good standing at a post-secondary school for at least one year. This requirement can be met with transcripts, certificates, diplomas, degrees, or letters of good standing.

5. Sufficient Settlement Funds

Applicants must have sufficient funds for settlement in Canada to support themselves, their partners, and other dependants. Depending on the number of family members accompanying the applicant, the amount of money required will differ.

6. Medical and Security Clearances

A medical examination and security clearance is required for all Canadian immigration programs to determine whether applicants and accompanying family members pose a security threat or have a condition that would place an unreasonable burden on the Canadian health care system.

Peer Review Process

The Canadian government designates several agencies for reviewing commitments made between investment organizations and applicants to prevent fraud and ensure commitments are confirmed.

What happens if the business fails?

Participants in this program will be allowed to keep their permanent Canadian residence regardless of whether their business fails.

What is the Duration of this Pilot Project?

As a pilot program, the Start-Up Visa is set to last for five years, but it may be extended or turned into a permanent immigration program if it proves to be successful. For this immigration program, the Canadian government will accept only 2,750 applications per year.


For aspiring entrepreneurs with a viable start-up business project, the process of obtaining a commitment certificate or letter of support from a designated entity can take about six months. After receiving a letter of support, a permanent residence application can be submitted. From the time the application is submitted to when the visa is issued, it should take about 18 months.