Startup Visa Program

This program is intended for immigrant entrepreneurs with the ability to found businesses in Canada that are novel, can create employment opportunities for Canadians and that can participate in the world market.[1]

A- Eligibility Criteria[2]

To be eligible, a foreign national must: have a qualifying business; have a letter of support from a designated organization; meet the language requirements; and bring enough money to settle.

1. Qualifying Business

A business will qualify if:

  • at the time of getting a letter of support from a designated organization, each applicant holds 10% or more of the voting rights attached to all shares of the corporation outstanding at that time and the applicants and designated organization jointly hold more than 50% of the total voting rights attached to all shares of the corporation outstanding at that time; and
  • at the time of receiving permanent resident (PR) status, the applicant provides active and ongoing management of this business from within Canada, an essential part of the operations of the business happens in Canada, and this business is incorporated in Canada.

2. Letter of Support from a Designated Organization

A designated organization is a business group that has been approved to invest in or support possible startups. The organization must be contacted about how to get its support; it must be convinced that the business idea is one worth supporting; and a letter of support must be obtained from the organization and submitted with the application. Each organization has its own protocols for assessing prospects which may include a presentation and/or business plan.

3. Meeting the Language Requirements

An applicant must take a language test from an approved agency and include the results with the application. The threshold is whether the applicant has a Canada Benchmark Level (CLB) score of 5 or more in either English or French in the areas of speaking, reading, listening and writing. One must arrange for one’s own language test and pay the associated cost. The results must be included with the application; the immigration office will use the results to determine the CLB score. Language test results from the past two years can be used.

Currently approved language tests are:

  • For English:
  • IELTS – General Training
  • For French:
  • TEF Canada
  • TCF Canada

Currently approved language test agencies are:

  • For English
  • For CEL PIP-G, Paragon Testing Enterprises Inc.
  • For IELTS – General Training, Cambridge Assessment English, IDP Australia and The British Council
  • For French
  • For TEF Canada, the Paris Chamber of Commerce and Industry
  • For TCF Canada, France Education International (FEI)


4. Money Requirement

There are certain monetary thresholds that applicants must meet which prove that they are able to support themselves and their dependents if they were to come to Canada. These amounts are based on the size of the applicant’s family.


B- Application Process[3]


1. Before applying

A foreign national who wishes to apply to the program can access the application package and guide to applying from the Government of Canada website.

2. Filling in the application

The Generic Application Form for Canada (IMM-0008) can be filled in on a computer. Once done, click the “Validate” button and a bar code page will appear. Both the entire application and bar code page should be printed. The form should be signed and dated when prompted.

3. Gathering all supporting documents

The Document Checklist guides the foreign national in the types of documents to get and the order in which to get them. Each item should be checked off once completed. All identification and supporting documents are to be placed in a sealed envelope. The Document Checklist must be printed and signed and included as the cover of the application.

4. Pay your application fees

Application fees include the processing fee, the Right of Residence fee, the biometrics fee, and third-party fees. The first three of these fees are payable at the time of submitting the application. The processing fee covers the cost involved in processing the application; the biometric fee the cost involved in collecting fingerprints and a digital photo. The Right of Residence fee is payable on the submission of any application for PR. Third-party fees are amounts that may be payable to third parties for medical exams, police certificates, language tests, etc.

5. Submit your application

In terms of submitting the application, if there are multiple applicants in respect of the same startup business, neither application will be processed until all of them have been received; however, if one of the applicants decides to withdraw his/her application then the IRCC should be promptly notified of this. As well, if there are multiple applicants in respect of the same startup business, they must submit their applications individually, and not together in a single envelope.

In order to be processed, an application must be complete. This means that all of the questions must be answered, all of the forms must be signed, the processing fees must have been paid and the receipt(s) attached to the application, and all supporting documents must have been included.

The processing time for is currently about 12-16 months.


C- After applying[4]

After a foreign national has applied, he/she has the option of applying for a temporary work permit to get to Canada and start building his/her business while the PR application is being processed.

The IRCC will send him/her:

  • a letter verifying that his/her application is complete and signed, that he/she paid the processing fee; and that he/she has provided all required documents;
  • a letter telling him/her to give biometrics; and
  • a letter about how to get the medical exam.

The IRCC may also request:

  • further information or documentation that would assist them in making a decision;
  • a police certificate from the applicant any of their family members over the age of 18; and/or
  • an interview.


  • as a result of a medical exam the foreign national’s health is determined to be such that it would be a danger to Canada’s health or safety or would cause too great a demand on health or social services in Canada, then the application may be rejected.
  • as a result of investigations (including reviewing police certificates) that the foreign national has a criminal record, they may not be allowed to enter Canada.

If the IRCC approves the application, it will send the foreign national a Permanent Residence Visa. This will include a Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR) and entry visa. The foreign national must have both when he/she arrives in Canada.

If the IRCC refuses the application, the foreign national has the option of legally challenging that decision by applying for judicial review at Federal Court.


D- Arriving in Canada[5]

If an application is approved when the foreign national is already in Canada, the IRCC will contact them about next steps. There is a mandatory interview with an immigration officer.

If an application is approved when the foreign national is outside Canada, upon arriving in Canada there is an interview with a Canada Border Security Agency (CBSA) officer.


[1] “Immigrate with a start-up visa: About the process”:

[2] “Immigrate with a start-up visa: Who can apply”:

[3] “Immigrate with a start-up visa: How to apply”:

[4] “Immigrate with a start-up visa: After you apply”:

[5] “Immigrate with a start-up visa: Prepare to arrive”: