Immigrate with a start-up visa: About the process
Canada’s Start-up Visa Program targets immigrant entrepreneurs with the skills and potential to build businesses in Canada that:
- are innovative
- can create jobs for Canadians
- can compete on a global scale
Do you have an innovative business idea? If you can get support for your idea from one of the designated organizations, you may be able to immigrate to Canada.
Want to live in Quebec?
The Province of Quebec is in charge of its own business immigration program. If you plan to live in Quebec, visit Quebec’s immigration website.
12 to 16 months
You may need to give biometrics with your application. This processing time includes the time you need to give your biometrics.
Immigrate with a start-up visa: Who can apply
To be eligible for the Start-up Visa Program, you must:
- have a qualifying business
- get a letter of support from a designated organization
- meet the language requirements
- bring enough money to settle
Have a qualifying business
A qualifying business means you created a business that meets the following conditions.
- At the time you get a commitment 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 (up to 5 people can apply as owners) AND
- applicants and the designated organization jointly hold more than 50% of the total voting rights attached to all shares of the corporation outstanding at that time
- At the time you receive your permanent residence:
- you provide active and ongoing management of this business from within Canada
- an essential part of the operations of the business happens in Canada
- this business is incorporated in Canada
Get a letter of support from a designated organization
You must get a letter of support from a designated organization (a business group that has been approved to invest in or support possible start-ups).
You’ll need to:
- contact the designated organization to find out how to get its support
- convince the organization that you have a business idea that is worth supporting
- get a letter of support from the designated organization
The process to pitch your idea is different for each organization. Each organization has its own requirements. For example, you may be asked to present your business concept in person or submit a detailed business plan.
If you reach an agreement with a designated organization, it will send you a letter of support. You need to include this letter when you submit your application to us. This is the proof you need to show that the venture capital fund, angel investor group, or business incubator is supporting your business idea.
The organization will also send a commitment certificate directly to us. We’ll use both your letter of support and the organization’s commitment certificate to assess your application. Please note, we may ask you for more business information in order to take a final decision on your application.
If you don’t include the letter of support or meet any of the other requirements, we’ll refuse your application.
Did you know?
While your application for permanent residence is being processed, you can apply for a temporary work permit to get to Canada and start building your business. See work permits for start-up visa applicants.
Meet the language requirements
The ability to communicate and work in English, French or both languages will help your business succeed in Canada.
You must take a language test from an approved agency and include the results with your application, or we won’t process it.
You must meet the minimum level of the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 5 in either English or French in all of these four areas:
Use your test results to find your CLB level.
If you don’t meet the minimum language skills, we’ll refuse your application.
Bring enough money to settle
The Government of Canada does not give financial support to new start-up visa immigrants.
When you apply, you’ll need to give proof that you have the money to support yourself and your dependants after you arrive in Canada. You can’t borrow this money from another person.
The amount you need depends on the size of your family. We update these amounts every year.
(in Canadian dollars)
|For each additional family member||$3,492|
How much money should you bring?
Find out how much it costs to live where you’re planning to settle in Canada.
Bring as much money as possible to make moving to Canada and finding a home easier.
Immigrate with a start-up visa: How to apply
You need to give your bio-metrics
In most cases, you now need to give your fingerprints and photo (biometrics) after you apply. Find out where biometrics fits in the application process.
How to apply
Get the application package
Fill out the application form
- Fill out the Generic Application Form for Canada [IMM 0008] (PDF, 553.83KB) on your computer
- Click the “Validate” button on the form. If there are any fields you still need to fill out, they will be outlined in red
- Print the validated application form. Make sure to print all pages of the application form and the barcode page. The barcode page will come up after you validate the form. If you have more than one package, place a separate barcode page on each one.
- Sign and date the form where asked
Complete the document checklist
- Gather all supporting documents and information in the order identified in the Document Checklist (PDF, 371.86KB)
- Check off each item
- Place all identification and supporting documents in a sealed envelope
- Print out the document checklist and sign it
- Include the document checklist as the cover page of your application
You must include all the forms, supporting documents, signatures, language test results and the proof of payment of the processing fees. If any are missing, your application will be incomplete. We’ll send it back to you without processing it.
All of your answers must be complete and true. If we find that you gave us false information or left out important details:
- your application could be refused
- you could be found inadmissible and
- you could be barred for five years from applying to come to Canada for any reason
Pay your application fees
In most cases, your fees will include:
- processing fees for you and anyone you include on your application
- the Right of Permanent Residence Fee (RPRF)
- third-party fees
You have to pay your fees online (force opens in new tab).
In most cases, you must pay a biometrics fee when you submit your application. Otherwise, you may experience delays. The biometrics fee covers the cost of collecting fingerprints and a digital photo.
After you pay the biometrics fee with a complete application, we’ll send you a letter confirming that you need to give your biometrics and where you can go. You must show this letter when you give your biometrics.
You must give your biometrics in person. Make sure to book an appointment if this service is offered. Find a collection point close to you.
Depending on your situation, you may need to pay third parties for:
The instruction guide can help you understand which fees apply to you.
Submit your application
If there are multiple people applying for permanent residence (PR) as partners in a qualifying business, we won’t process any applications until all have been received.
Each business partner must submit their own application. Do not submit all applications in one envelope.
If a team member will no longer be submitting a permanent residence application you must use the web form to tell us as soon as possible.
To make sure you have a complete application, you must:
- answer all questions
- sign your application and all forms
- pay your processing fees and attach a copy of the receipt to your application
- include all the supporting documents
If you forget something, we’ll send your application back to you. You’ll have to fix any errors and resubmit it.
Mail your complete application to the address in the instruction guide.
Don’t send your application to any other processing centre or visa office.