Canada has a Start-up Visa program which aims to recruit dynamic entrepreneurs from around the world, bring them to Canada, and equip them with the resources they need (including money) to establish businesses that employ Canadians.

The Canada Start-up Visa program or the Entrepreneur Visa program encourages immigrant entrepreneurs to develop their startups in Canada. Successful applicants can tie up with private companies in Canada and receive help on funding and guidance on running their business.

The entrepreneur wanting to immigrate must have the support or sponsorship of a specified Canadian venture capital fund, angel investor or business incubator to qualify for the PR visa.

The IRCC has designated specific venture capital funds, investor groups and business incubators to be part of this visa program.

Under this visa program, candidates can come to Canada on a work permit which is sponsored by their Canada based investor and then apply for a PR visa once their business is established in the country.

However, this visa program has clear rules on the ownership and shareholding requirements for a startup to be eligible for this visa.

Eligibility requirements to apply for the Start-up Visa for Canada:
  • Have the minimum language eligibility requirements in English or French
  • Have completed at least one year of post-secondary education
  • Have enough funds to settle in Canada
  • Clear the medical tests and security requirements
  • Have proof that the business has the required support from a designated entity in the form of a Commitment Certificate and Letter of Support
  • Have a qualifying business
  • Have completed at least one year of post-secondary education
  • Fulfil the ownership requirements.

Startups that succeed in getting through this Entrepreneur Visa Program of Canada must be able to get the minimum required investment. If it is from a venture capital fund, minimum investment should be USD 200,000. If the investment is from an angel investor group, the investment should be at least USD 75,000. Applicants must also be a member of a Canadian business incubator program.

Applicants need not invest their own money in the business. Individuals who are granted PR visas through this entrepreneur visa program for Canada will retain their PR visa even if their startup is unsuccessful.

Qualifying for a work permit and later permanent residence under the Start-up Visa Program

After acquiring the Commitment certificate from a designated entity, the candidate can apply for a work permit.

To be eligible for permanent residency, the applicant must be actively involved in the management of a business in Canada that must be incorporated there. At the very least, the core company operations must take place in Canada.

Processing time for work permit and PR visa

The commitment letter or letter of support will take roughly 4 to 6 months if the entrepreneur has a viable business proposal. After receiving this letter, the candidate can apply for a PR visa. The processing time for a PR visa is estimated to be 18 months.

The startup visa program does not require applicants to invest their own money in the business. This program can a pathway to a PR visa for immigration candidates who want to be entrepreneurs.

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