Start-up Visa Immigration

The 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. IRCC is looking for the next big hit, similar to Google or Apple, to 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 significant and plausible.

<<Read: What is happening with the Start-up Visa and Self-employed Class applications 2021>>

Letter of Support from a Designated Organization

The most challenging 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 Businesses

A good 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 must 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 needs to meet all requirements, so be careful with adding people to the application.

<<Check the latest version of NOC, NOC 2021, which replaces the old skill levels with TEER categories>>

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. 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 test’s ability 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 are no minimum investment funds for the Start-up Visa. However, consider the following:

  • Legal mandates
  • IRCC expectations
  • Designated organizations expectations

IRCC Expectations

IRCC expects you to have minimum settlement funds per 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.

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 a highly complex process. You may alternatively consider the work-permit-for-job-creators root instead.

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    Al Parsai, MA, DTM, RCIC
    Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant
    Ashton College Instructor – Immigration Consulting
    Author – 88 Tips on Immigration to Canada

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    This article provides information of a general nature only. Considering the fluid nature of the immigration world, it may no longer be current. Of course, the item does not give legal advice. Therefore, do not rely on it as legal advice or immigration advice. Consequently, no one could hold us accountable for the content of these articles. Of course, if you have specific legal questions, you must consult a lawyer. Alternatively, if you are looking for immigration advice, book an appointment.

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    Al Parsai

    Al Parsai is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (class L3 RCIC-IRB – Unrestricted Practice) in Toronto, Canada. He is an adjunct professor at Queen's University Law School and Ashton College. Al, who holds a Master of Laws (LLM) degree from York University, is a member of CICC and CAPIC organizations. Al, the CEO of Parsai Immigration Services, has represented thousands of applicants from more than 50 countries to the immigration authorities since January 2011.

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