The Canadian Start-Up Visa Program is a progressive route that facilitates the immigration of pioneering entrepreneurs who seek permanent residency in Canada. It also encourages the establishment of their newly-formed businesses. Introduced in 2013, this VISA initiative was developed to draw in and retain high-powered business owners who can boost the Canadian economy and generate more employment opportunities. 

With respect to the immigration programs falling under the business categories, the start-up visa (SUV) program enables the owners of creative start-ups or well-established foreign businesses to apply for permanent residence in Canada. It even includes the relocation of other founding members of the same business, provided they meet the specific eligibility criteria.

The Start-Up VISA Program — An Overview

Introduced by the Canadian government, the start-up visa program was aimed at captivating entrepreneurs from around the world and providing them with the necessary financing and support to succeed in their businesses. It was designed in the belief that such businesses would add to the economic growth of the country while creating more jobs for the Canadian population. 

The application process for this particular immigration program is more fast-paced in comparison to other initiatives that facilitate PR applications. Here, the ultimate objective is to ensure the approval of applications in less than a month’s time. It is vital to remember that this type of immigration program grants applicants the right to permanent residence in Canada with the scope of applying for citizenship down the line. 

The Start-Up VISA Program — The Eligibility Requirements

Opting for the start-up visa route for Canadian immigration comes with certain conditions that need to be met by applicants. They are as follows:

  • Business Qualifications — The first thing to ensure is that the applicant runs a functional, legitimate business that effectively meets the SUV program requirements. The applicant must reserve at least 10% of the voting rights associated with the shares of the business. Additionally, more than 50% of the total shares in the startup business must be jointly owned by foreign nationals and their Designated Organisation.

  • Approval from a Designated Organization — An applicant’s eligibility under the start-up visa program largely depends on their ability to find an angel investor, venture capital fund, or business incubator to financially invest in their business. The point to be noted here is to ensure that the organization is a designated one, i.e. it meets the following requirements:
  1. In the case of angel investors, the applicant’s business must secure a minimum investment of $75,000. Candidates can also proceed with multiple investments where the total amounts to $75,000.
  2. In the case of venture capital funds, the applicant must acquire a minimum investment of $200,000 for their start-up business. They may also qualify to receive investment funds from two or more designated venture capital funds, provided the total amount stands at $200,000.
  3. In the case of designated business incubators, the applicant must ensure that his start-up business is accepted into their business incubator program.
  • Language Requirements — Prior to submitting an application for permanent residence through the start-up visa programme, candidates must meet the language proficiency eligibility requirements. Candidates should speak English, French, or both with ease. In order to verify the same, candidates must pass a language exam administered by an organization approved by the IRCC.

  • Academic Requirements — Applicants seeking permanent residence in Canada need to furnish certain proof of education. It is required to prove that they have studied at a postsecondary institution for at least a year. To demonstrate that they fulfill this requirement, they must additionally present transcripts, a letter of good standing, diplomas, degrees, or certificates.

  • Financial Statement — One of the most important requirements under the start-up visa program is for the applicants to provide evidence of sufficient available, unencumbered settlement funds. This essentially proves that they are capable of financially supporting themselves after immigrating to Canada.

  • Security and Health Clearance — The start-up visa immigration program requires candidates to undergo a security clearance check in addition to a medical fitness examination before they can be considered eligible for immigration. This helps the Canadian government ensure that the applicant does not pose any security risk to the nation or suffer from any medical condition that could potentially cause hindrance to the Canadian healthcare system. 

The Start-Up VISA Program — Understanding the Application Process

On successfully meeting all the eligibility criteria required for obtaining permanent residence under the start-up visa program, candidates can officially start building their application. It should be noted that the total processing time for the same can be anywhere between 12 to 18 months. Here’s how you can go about it:

STEP 1: The first step begins with the official application form.

  • Complete the Generic Application Form.
  • Before clicking “Validate,” ensure that you have filled out all the required fields on the form.
  • Make sure to print the application form that has been validated and include the barcode page.
  • Date and sign the document.

STEP 2: Next comes the submission of relevant documents.

  • Assemble all the documents listed in the document checklist’s prescribed order.
  • Put all required papers in a sealed envelope.
  • Take a print of the checklist and sign it.
  • Put the document checklist on the application’s cover page.

STEP 3: This step involves the payment of the application fees. Application fees cover processing costs for you and any applicants you list. It includes –

  • Fees for the right to permanent residence.
  • Fees to third parties, such as those for police reports, medical examinations, and language tests.
  • Biometrics fees.

STEP 4: Now comes the final submission of the completed application. Before submission, it is vital to –

  • Ensure the application is complete.
  • Verify that all the forms contain your signature.
  • Confirm that all the payment charges have been made with payment receipts attached.
  • Ensure it contains all supporting documents.

Finally, all the relevant forms and documents need to be placed inside a 9” x 12” envelope with ‘start-up visa’ written on the outside of it and mailed to the appropriate address.


For companies, business owners, and foreign employees, immigration to Canada can be extremely challenging. To properly navigate this difficult process, it is often essential to seek out professionals with the knowledge, expertise, and patience. 

Kurzfeld Law provides specialized legal assistance for all corporate and business immigration cases. For additional information on how we can assist you with your immigration needs, get in touch with us.