Start-up Visa Immigration

Javier is a computer programmer from Spain. Javier recently came up with the idea of an innovative app for iPhone and Android cell phones. His app may also run on tablet and desktop environments.  Javier believes his app will revolutionize the way we purchase our grocery in the future. He has deeply researched the global market and believes he can sell this product to giant companies such as Walmart, 7-Eleven, and Carrefour. Javier wants to establish his business in Canada to have easy access to the North American and South American market. He also knows treaties such as CETA could help him easily access the European market as a Canadian business. Javier has heard about an immigration option to Canada called Start up Visa. He knows this program could help him immigrate to Canada and even a get a work permit upfront to start his business as quick as possible.

Start-up visa immigration program targets entrepreneurs and innovative business people. The purpose is to encourage these people to immigrate to Canada and create businesses that could succeed locally and globally. In fact, IRCC is looking for the next big hit, similar to Google or Apple, get established in Canada via this program. Of course, not every start-up will turn into Google, but at least the idea needs to be big and plausible.

Letter of Support from a Designated Organization

The most difficult phase of this program is to convince a designated organization to offer you a letter of support. You need to work on your business plan and try to perfect it. Then approach any of the designated organizations and try to receive their support. Visit the following article for a list of designated organizations.

If an organization approves your idea and supports you, then you may not add new partners to the business, so make up your mind before approaching a designated organization.

Acceptable Business

An acceptable business needs to meet the following.

  • The business idea must receive a letter of support from a designated organization
  • Each immigration applicant needs to own at least 10% of the voting shares of the business
  • The minimum combined voting shares for the applicants and the designated organization needs to be at least 51% of the total voting shares
  • The applicant’s role must be integral to the management and day to day operations of the business
  • You need to incorporate the business in Canada

The maximum number of applicants per application is five. Each of them need to meet all necessary requirements, so be careful with adding people to the application.

Minimum Language Requirements for Start up Visa Immigration

You need to take at least one of the following tests.

  • CELPIP: Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program  (Only CELPIP General is acceptable. Don’t take General-LS)
  • IELTS: International English Language Testing System (Only IELTS General is acceptable. Don’t take IELTS Academic)
  • TEF Canada: Test d’évaluation de français
  • TCF Canada: Test de connaissance du français

You only need to take one of the tests per language. If you present multiple test results under the same language, the officer considers the latest test results. They won’t combine the results with each other. While taking the second language test is not mandatory, it could enhance the view of the immigration officer towards your application.

The following table shows the minimum scores under each ability of the test for the Start up visa program applicants.

Test Language Speaking Listening Reading Writing
CELPIP English 5 5 5 5
IELTS General English 5.0 5.0 4.0 5.0
TEF Canada French 225 180 150 225
TCF Canada French 6 369 375 6


The figures above are the minimums. You need to meet the minimum under each ability (i.e. speaking, listening, reading, and writing). Even if your score falls under the minimum for one of the abilities you may not apply. Of course, the higher your score, the better, because of the following reasons.

  • The immigration officer will have a better feeling about your application
  • You can run your business more effectively in Canada, as you know our official language(s)

Settlement Funds

There is no minimum investment funds for the start up visa. However, consider the following:

  • Legal mandates
  • IRCC expectations
  • Designated organizations expectations

Legal mandates

Under subsection 12(2) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA), “a foreign national may be selected as a member of the economic class on the basis of their ability to become economically established in Canada.” This means your application must convince the officer you do not intend to use social welfare, when you move to Canada. You also need to meet the requirements of section 39 of IRPA, where it says, “A foreign national is inadmissible for financial reasons if they are or will be unable or unwilling to support themself or any other person who is dependent on them, and have not satisfied an officer that adequate arrangements for care and support, other than those that involve social assistance, have been made.”

Considering these important sections of IRPA, you need to both show you have the financial means and the ability to be financially self-sustained in Canada.

IRCC Expectations

IRCC expects you to have minimum settlement funds in accordance with LICO. Read the following article for more information.

Keep in mind these are the minimums.

Designated Organizations Expectations

Although there is no minimum investment for this method of immigration, the designated organization may demand a certain amount of investment in the business from your side. Generally speaking, the majority of successful people under this program are wealthy business owners.

Application Process for Start up visa

You need to follow these steps to become a permanent resident of Canada under the Start up visa program. The exact steps could slightly vary depending on your circumstances.

  1. Come up with a business idea.
  2. Perfect your business plan and approach a designated organization. You may need to register your corporation in Canada and also transfer funds during this process. Most applicants need to visit Canada before receiving a letter of support.
  3. Get the letter of support from the designated organization.
  4. Initiate the immigration application.
  5. Apply for a work permit. If you receive the work permit, you may initiate your business even before becoming a permanent resident of Canada.

If you meet the requirements of this method of application and if you are not inadmissible to Canada, you could become a permanent resident of Canada.

Note 1: The federal immigration programs such as Startup visas are for people who want to settle in any province or territory of Canada, but Quebec.

Note 2: The Start up visa program is an extremely complex process. You may alternatively consider the work-permit-for-job-creators root instead.

If you wish to visit or move to Canada or if you have encountered any issues with the immigration authorities, you may fill out our free assessment form or book a consultation session to assess your potential opportunities or offer you immigration, visa, or citizenship advice.

Al Parsai, MA, DTM, RCIC
Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant
Ashton College Instructor – Immigration Consulting

This article provides information of a general nature only. It may no longer be current. It does not give legal advice nor should you rely on it as legal advice. If you have specific legal questions, you should consult a lawyer. If you are looking for immigration advice, book an appointment. All the characters in the articles are fictional, unless otherwise clearly stated. Any resemblance in names, dates, and places (whether individuals, organizations, regions, or countries) is coincidental.

Related Posts

Can international students quit their studies in Canada?

Apr 19, 2021

IRCC accepts 90,000 immigrants from temporary residents in Canada

Apr 15, 2021

Criminality versus serious criminality in immigration to Canada

Apr 13, 2021

Dependent type A B C in immigration to Canada

Apr 11, 2021

Al Parsai

Al Parsai is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC) in Toronto, Canada. He also teaches the official immigration consulting courses at Ashton College in Vancouver, Canada. Al who holds a Masters degree from Yorkville University is a member of ICCRC and CAPIC organizations. Al, the CEO of Parsai Immigration Services, has represented hundreds of applicants from more than 30 countries to the immigration authorities since January 2011.

Do you have any questions?