Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) strongly favours qualified entrepreneurs from foreign nations. This is because they often have the potential to foster innovation, attract investment, and create jobs in Canada. For this reason, having an entrepreneurial background is a major asset for foreigners looking to immigrate to Canada and obtain permanent residency.
Note: Foreigners looking to live in Quebec cannot use this program as a means of business immigration.
Through the Start-up Visa Program, foreigners can immigrate to Canada and obtain permanent residence if they:
Qualification for the Start-up Visa Program requires that you meet the program eligibility criteria, as well as the admissibility requirements to enter Canada.
You may be denied a visa or entry into Canada for:
To be deemed eligible for the Start-up Visa Program, you must satisfy the following requirements:
Prior to application for business immigration, your intended business venture must be assessed by and gain the support of one or more designated organizations. These entities are approved to invest in or lend support to potential start-ups through the Start-up Visa Program. To be approved, the commitment needs to satisfy one of the criteria below:
Your application will be assessed to verify that your enterprise is a viable venture in Canada. If one of these entities decides to support your business enterprise, it will contact you with a Letter of Support.
Note: You must include this letter in your application as proof of support, otherwise it will be refused entirely.
The organization will also contact CIC with a Commitment Certificate that will be used to assess your application as well. Once this has been acquired, you may apply for a temporary work permit. This is a good option for applicants who want to start growing their venture during the processing period of their permanent residency application. At the time permanent residence is received, the business must be actively managed, operated and incorporated in Canada.
At the time a commitment is received from a designated organization, it is essential that the business is active within Canada at that time. This is necessary to qualify for business immigration on the Start-Up Visa. Furthermore:
One business can support a maximum of five different applicants, however it is important to recognize that joint ventures come with risks. Indeed, if one partner’s application is withdrawn or rejected, all applications may be refused.
As it is the backbone of communication, language proficiency is crucial for the success of any business venture. Applicants for the Start-up Visa Program are required to take a language proficiency test. The results will reflect whether they have acquired adequate language abilities for them to successfully establish themselves and their business enterprise within Canada.
English and French are the official languages in Canada. You may choose to complete either an English or French proficiency test. You may also opt to both tests in order to increase your chance of approval. The language tests will evaluate your abilities in:
You must achieve a minimum level 5 on the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) in all four areas of assessment, otherwise your application will be refused.
Financial support is not provided to start-up visa immigrants by the Government of Canada. Your application will require that you prove you have the financial means to support yourself and any family members or dependents who may accompany you to Canada. You cannot acquire such funds from another person.
The required amount varies depending on the size of your family, as well as the annual cost of living statistics. It is recommended that you research the cost of living in the specific Canadian province in which you intend to establish yourself, your family and your enterprise.
This can be found on the Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) website. It includes an instruction guide and document checklist designed to help you fill out the forms correctly. You must include all of the information, documents, signatures, and fees that are asked for. If your application is missing any required information, it will be returned to you without processing.
In most cases, these fees include:
You must send your application to the address provided in the instruction guide. It is highly recommended that you review your application in order to ensure that you have:
It is important to note that if you are caught embellishing on or omitting any details, you will face consequences. In other words, if you misrepresent yourself by providing false information or leaving out crucial details:
If your application is approved, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) will issue you a permanent resident visa. This includes both your Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR) and your entry visa. You must have both with you upon arrival to Canada, as well as a valid passport and/or travel documents.
For a detailed list of government-elected entities who can support your start-up visa, visit this page.
If you require more information regarding the Start-up Visa Program, please complete our free online evaluation form here.
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