Start-Up Visa

Canada’s Start-up Visa Program is suitable for entrepreneurs who have the skills and potential to build businesses in Canada that are innovative and can create jobs for Canadians.

The Start-Up Visa program grants permanent residence to immigrant entrepreneurs while assisting them to become established in Canada.

The program encourages immigrant entrepreneurs to grow their companies in Canada. Successful applicants link with private sector organizations in Canada, where they can receive funding, guidance and expertise in opening and operating their enterprise in Canada.

The purpose of this program is to recruit innovative foreign national entrepreneurs who will create new jobs and drive economic growth. To be eligible for the Start-up Visa Program, you must:

  1. Have a qualifying business – up to 5 people can apply as owners. Each applicant must hold minimum 10% of the voting rights AND the 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;

Applicants must be aware that an essential part of the operations of the business happens in Canada and while the business is incorporated, at the time you receive your permanent residence, you provide active and ongoing management of this business from within Canada.

  • Meet the language requirements – You must meet the minimum level of the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 5 in either English or French in all these four areas of speaking, reading, listening and writing.
  • Bring enough money to settle – When you apply, you will need to give proof that you have sufficient funds to settle in Canada. You cannot borrow this money from another person.
  • Province of Quebec have their own investment program. When you apply, you must plan to settle in a province other than the Province of Quebec.
  • Pass Canadian security and medical clearances;

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.

Investment Details

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has designated a number of venture capital funds, angel investor groups, and business incubator organizations to participate in the Start-Up Visa program. These organizations are able to assist entrepreneurs in establishing business contacts in Canada.

Successful applicants are required to secure a minimum investment for their Canadian start-up program. Applicants are not required to invest any of their own money. However, the minimum investments required are:

Below is a list of organizations the government has designated to work with entrepreneurs in the Start-Up Visa program.

Venture Capital Funds

A Venture Capital firm secures money from private investors and makes investments on their behalf. Applicants may require a seat on the company’s board of directors. You must get at least one of these groups to agree to invest a minimum of $200,000:

Angel Investor Groups

Business Angel Investor groups are comprised of individuals who invest their personal funds in an exciting business opportunity. You must get one or more investors connected to these groups to agree to invest a minimum of $75,000:

Business Incubators

Applicants do not need to secure any investment from a Business Incubator. However, applicants must be accepted into one of these programs:

Evidence of Commitment

In order to demonstrate that the applicant has obtained support from either a Venture Capital Fund, and/or Angel Investor Groups, and/or Business Incubators; the investor organization must submit a completed “Commitment Certificate” directly to IRCC. This document includes information regarding the agreement between the applicant and the investment organization. Its purpose is to summarize the relevant details of the commitment between the investment organization and the applicant.

In addition, the applicant will receive a “Letter of Support” from the investment organization, which the applicant will need to submit with their application for permanent residence. If there are two or more applicants as part of the same business venture, the commitment by the investment organization can be conditional upon one or more “essential persons” receiving their permanent residence. An essential person is someone who has been specifically identified as essential to the business by the investment organization. If for any reason the application of an essential person is refused, the applications of all others included in the Commitment Certificate will also be refused.

Support from Multiple Organizations

Applicants may receive support from multiple designated organizations, known as syndication. In this instance, all entities involved must be identified. Together, the designated organizations will provide IRCC with a single “Commitment Certificate” and one “Letter of Support” will be provided to the applicant(s).

As soon as a designated Venture Capital firm invests in a business, the minimum total investment amount that must be invested in that business is $200,000, even if a designated Angel Investor Group also invests in the same business.

If the business receives support from at least one designated Angel Group, but not designated Venture Capital Groups, then the minimum total investment amount that must be invested in that business is $75,000.

Express Entry Immigrants

Express Entry Immigrants to Canada: Who Are They, and Where Are They Going?

On January 1, 2015, the Government of Canada implemented the Express Entry Immigration system under the Economic Class including the Federal Skilled Worker Program.

Under Express Entry, Federal Skilled Workers across 347 eligible occupations who meet minimum entry criteria, submit an expression of interest profile to the Express Entry Pool.  The profiles of candidates in the pool are ranked under a Comprehensive Ranking System.  The highest ranked candidates will be considered for an invitation to apply for permanent residence. Candidates receiving an invitation must submit a full application within a delay of ۹۰-days.

Federal Skilled Workers are persons with suitable education, work experience, age and language abilities under one of Canada’s official languages and who are selected under the Express Entry Immigration system to apply for permanent residence.
To qualify for admission to the Express Entry Pool as a Federal Skilled Worker, applicants must meet the following conditions:
Essential Conditions:

  1. Possess one-year of continuous full-time paid work experience or the equivalent in part-time continuous employment within the previous 10 years in one of 347 eligible occupations listed under the applicable National Occupational Classification system; AND
  2. The work experience must be classified within Skill Type 0 (Managerial Occupations), Skill Level A (Professional Occupations), or Skill Level B (Technical Occupations and Skilled Trades) within the meaning of the National Occupational Classification system; AND
  3. Score sufficient points under the skilled worker point grid comprising of six selection factors. The current pass mark is 67 points;
  4. Undergo language testing from a recognized third party and demonstrate intermediate level language skills in English or French corresponding to the Canadian Language Benchmark of 7)
  5. Possess suitable settlement funding;
  6. Undergo a successful security background and medical examination.

Qualified applicants are evaluated against six factors to determine their eligibility for immigration to Canada. Applicants must obtain a total of 67 points out of a possible 100 in order to qualify. The selection factors are:

  • Education;
  • Language;
  • Employment experience;
  • Age;
  • Arranged employment;
  • Adaptability;

The new program seeks to select candidates with the highest probability of economic settlement success and contribution to Canada.  It maintains previous criteria with modification to the relative importance and point structure for each selection factor.

Selection Factors:

To be selected under the FSW program, applicants who possess sufficient work experience and language proficiency must accumulate a minimum of 67 points on the skilled worker selection grid, which allocates points for education, language, employment experience, age, arranged Canadian employment and adaptability.

Education – Maximum of 25 points

Factor Score Final
(Canadian equivalence established by a designated third party)
Doctorate ۲۵
Master’s or professional degree ۲۳
Two or more post-secondary degrees, of which one is three years or longer ۲۲
A three year or longer post-secondary degree ۲۱
A two-year post-secondary diploma, trade certificate or apprenticeship ۱۹
A one-year post-secondary diploma, trade certificate or apprenticeship ۱۵
Secondary School Educational Credential ۵
LANGUAGE (Abilities: Speak, Read, Write, Listen) Max. 28
۱st Lang Very high proficiency (per ability) (CLB 9) ۶
High proficiency (per ability) (CLB 8) ۵
Intermediate proficiency (per ability) (CLB 7)*
*Minimum threshold required to apply
Basic or no proficiency ۰
Possible maximum (all four abilities) ۲۴
۲ndLang Basic proficiency or higher (per ability) ۱
No proficiency ۰
Possible maximum (all four abilities) ۴
EXPERIENCE (NOC Skill Level O,A,B) Max. 15
One year*
*Minimum threshold required to apply
Two to three years ۱۱
Four to five years ۱۳
Six years or more ۱۵
AGE Max. 12
۱۸ to 35 years ۱۲
۳۶ years ۱۱
Less one point per year until 47 years
HRSDC-confirmed permanent offer of employment ۱۰
Applicants from within Canada holding a temporary work permit that is:
Validated by HRSDC, including sectoral confirmations ۱۰
Exempt from HRSDC validation under international agreements (e.g., NAFTA) ۱۰
Applicant has a minimum of 1 year skilled Work experience in Canada ۱۰
Applicant has previously studied in Canada ۵
Spouse has previously studied in Canada ۵
Spouse has previously worked in Canada ۵
Family relation over the age of 18 in Canada ۵
Arranged employment ۵
Spouse is proficient in an official language ۵
Total ۱۰۰

The maximum number of points awarded for education is 25, with maximum points awarded to applicants with doctoral degrees. Foreign credentials will be evaluated by a designated third party to determine their Canadian equivalent and points will be awarded based on that equivalence. At this time, organizations designated for credential evaluation are:

  • Comparative Education Service: University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies;
  • International Credential Assessment Service of Canada;
  • World Education Services;
  • Medical Council of Canada.

Language – Minimum threshold of 16 points, Maximum of 28 points

Only applicants capable of demonstrating an intermediate to high level proficiency in one of Canada’s official languages, English or French, will be considered. Applicants who meet the minimum threshold must score at least 16 points under this selection factor. Higher language proficiency can lead to an allocation of up to 24 points.

The benefits of bilingualism are considered marginal to an individual’s successful economic establishment in Canada and the new point system limits points for a second official language to a maximum of 4.

Employment Experience – Minimum of 9 points, Maximum of 15 points

The new program requires a minimum of 1-year to qualify and the maximum consideration is 6-years.

Age – Maximum of 12 points

Up to 12 points will be allotted to candidates between the ages of 18 and 35 years. Each year above the age of 35 will reduce the allocation by ۱, with no points being awarded as of age 47.

Arranged Employment – ۰ or 10 points

Points are allotted to individuals with a validated offer of employment in Canada. In an effort to streamline labour market related processes and reduce processing times for employers and their potential employees, the Arranged Employment Opinion process will be replaced with the Labour Market Opinion (LMO) employment validation process which is generally used in processing applications for Canadian work permits.

In order to validate an employment offer and obtain points for this selection factor, a candidate’s proposed employer must demonstrate to Human Resources and Skills Development Canada that the hiring of a foreign worker will have neutral or positive economic effects on the local labour market.

Candidates with a validated employment offer will gain 10 points under this factor, and an additional 5 points in the Adaptability selection factor for a total of 15 points.

Adaptability – Maximum of 10 points

Applicants who have at least 1 year of full time Canadian work experience in a managerial, professional, technical or skilled trade occupation will be awarded maximum points. As mentioned above, a validated offer of employment will provide 5 adaptability points. Other considerations awarding points under this selection factor include: A close adult relative living in Canada; Applicant or spouse has studied in Canada; Spouse has previous Canadian work experience; Spouse has knowledge of one of Canada’s official languages.

CIC policy confirms that the Federal Skilled Worker Program, while well-tailored to select highly educated individuals, does not favour applications from the skilled trades. In an effort to ensure the Canadian labour market attracts sufficient trades workers, qualified trades’ candidates may now apply for permanent residence under the Federal Skilled Trades Program.

Self-Employed Immigration

Canada Self-Employed Immigration

The government of Canada, as well as the government of the province of Quebec, provide immigration programs for individuals who are self-employed in certain industries.

Federal Self-Employed Persons Program

To qualify for business immigration to Canada under the Self-Employed Persons Program, an applicant must demonstrate that he or she has relevant agricultural, artistic, or athletic experience that will allow the applicant to be successfully self-employed in Canada and to make a significant contribution to his or her field.

  • Quebec Self-Employed Category

The Quebec Self-Employed category of Canadian immigration was designed to allow qualified individuals the opportunity to obtain Canadian permanent residence provided that they can effectively establish themselves in the Province of Quebec by practicing a trade or profession for their own account.

Canada Immigration – Self-Employed Person

The Self-Employed Persons Program is open to individuals with self-employed experience as farmers, athletes (at an international level), or artisans.

To qualify for business immigration to Canada under the Self-Employed Persons Program, an applicant must demonstrate that he or she has relevant agricultural, artistic, or athletic experience that will allow the applicant to be successfully self-employed in Canada and to make a significant contribution to his or her field.

Relevant experience consists of at least two years of experience either self-employed or participating at a world class level in art, culture, recreation, or sport activities designated by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) (see the list below).

Applicants who wish to purchase a farm must have at least two years of farm management experience.

Applicants are also assessed based on their education, experience, age, English/French language ability, and adaptability.