What you should know about the Start-Up Visa Program in Canada
Canada is one of the most desirable countries for immigrant entrepreneurs to grow their early-stage companies. Statistics show that first and second-generation entrepreneurs make up almost 35 percent of all start-ups in the country. Canada’s wide embrace of cultural diversity and business innovation undoubtedly aids in the nation’s global popularity, but it is the Start-Up Visa Program in Canada that is really making international entrepreneurs flock to the hockey-loving nation.
What is the Start-Up Visa Program in Canada?
Canada’s Start-Up Visa Program for immigrant entrepreneurs offers Canadian permanent residence, targeting people who have the skills and potential to build businesses in Canada that are innovative, can create jobs for Canadians, and can compete on a global scale.
The Start-Up Visa Program (“SUV”) connects candidates with a designated organization such as a business incubator, who helps establish their business in Canada. Initially, entrepreneurs can come to Canada on a work permit supported by their designated organization before qualifying for permanent residence once their business is in full operation.
What requirements are needed to enter Canada’s start-up Visa Program?
Basic eligibility requirements for the Start-Up Visa in Canada include having a:
- Qualifying Business for Canada
- Commitment Certificate and Letter of Support from a Designated Organization
- Sufficient and Available Funds
- Proficiency in English or French
What businesses qualify for the Start-Up Visa Program in Canada?
At the time of commitment from a designated organization:
- An SUV candidate must hold 10% or more of the voting rights attached to all shares of the corporation (up to 5 people can apply as owners)
- An SUV candidate 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
How do I get a Commitment Certificate and Letter of Support for the SUV Program?
Every designated organization in the SUV program has different requirements on how start-ups gain its support and in turn, receive a commitment certificate and letter of support needed for their SUV application. You will need to correspond directly with the organization to pitch that your business is worth supporting. This may be an in-person meeting, a formal proposal, or an application for their business incubation program.
How much money is required for the start-up Visa Program in Canada?
SUV applications require proof of sufficient and available funds to support yourself and any dependents after you arrive in Canada.
What language skills do I need for the Start-Up Visa Program?
Proficiency in English, French, or both languages is required. A language test must be taken from an approved agency and your results must be submitted with your SUV application. You must meet the minimum level of the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 5 in either English or French in four areas: speaking, reading, listening, and writing.
How do I start the process of entering the Start-Up Visa Program in Canada?
An SUV-designated business incubator program not only helps meet SUV requirements, but you will gain invaluable knowledge that will prepare you for business in Canada. Learn about accepted business culture, common business practices, and government regulations. You may also be given networking opportunities so you can form connections before arriving in Canada.
Located between Toronto and Ottawa, Innovation Cluster Peterborough and the Kawarthas is one of few rural business incubators in Canada designated to offer a Start-Up Visa Program and has supported more than 40 companies owned by immigrant entrepreneurs since 2021. Start the conversation by asking questions and learning how you can begin your journey to Canada.