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Navigating Canada’s Start-Up Visa Program: A Comprehensive Guide for Immigrant Entrepreneurs

Canada‘s Start-Up Visa Program offers a unique pathway for immigrant entrepreneurs to establish innovative businesses in Canada. This guide provides an in-depth overview of the program, eligibility criteria, and application process, tailored for prospective applicants and law firms advising clients on immigration matters.

Introduction to Canada’s Start-Up Visa Program

The Start-Up Visa Program is a Canadian immigration option specifically designed for immigrant entrepreneurs with the skills and potential to create businesses that are innovative, capable of creating jobs for Canadians, and competitive on a global scale. This program is an excellent opportunity for those with a business idea that can attract support from designated Canadian organizations.

Key Features of the Program

  • Innovation Focus: The business must be original and geared towards growth.
  • Job Creation: It should have the potential to create employment opportunities in Canada.
  • Global Competitiveness: The business should be viable on an international scale.

Eligibility Requirements for the Start-Up Visa

To qualify for the Start-Up Visa Program, applicants must fulfill several criteria:

  1. Qualifying Business: Establish a business meeting specific conditions, including ownership and operational requirements.
  2. Support from a Designated Organization: Obtain a letter of support from an approved Canadian investor organization.
  3. Language Proficiency: Demonstrate proficiency in English or French at a Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) level 5 in all four language abilities.
  4. Sufficient Settlement Funds: Show proof of sufficient funds to support oneself and dependents after arriving in Canada.

Detailed Business Ownership Requirements

  • At the time of receiving the commitment from a designated organization:
  • Each applicant must hold at least 10% of the voting rights in the business.
  • The applicants and the designated organization must jointly own more than 50% of the total voting rights.
  • At the time of receiving permanent residence:
  • Provide active and ongoing management of the business from within Canada.
  • The business must be incorporated in Canada and a significant part of its operations must be conducted in Canada.

Application Process and Fees

  • Fee Structure: The application fee starts from CAN$2,140.
  • Obtaining a Letter of Support: Engage with a designated organization to secure its endorsement and a letter of support.
  • Language Testing: Complete a language test from an approved agency and include the results with the application.
  • Financial Proof: Provide evidence of adequate settlement funds.

Optional Work Permit

Applicants who have already applied for permanent residence through the Start-Up Visa Program may be eligible for an optional work permit, allowing them to start developing their business in Canada while their application is processed.

Additional Application Requirements

Biometrics Collection

Applicants between 14 and 79 years must provide biometrics (fingerprints and photo). This step is crucial to avoid processing delays.

Medical and Security Clearances

  • Medical Exams: Mandatory for the applicant and family members.
  • Police Certificates: Required for applicants and family members over 18 years from every country where they have lived for six months or more since age 18.

Processing Times and Decision

Processing times can vary, and applicants are advised to keep their personal information, including address and family situation, up to date to avoid delays. The decision on the application will be based on meeting the eligibility criteria, medical exams, and police certificates.

Preparation for Arrival in Canada

Upon Arrival in Canada

  • Present valid travel documents and the Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR).
  • Provide proof of sufficient funds for settlement.
  • Complete an interview with a CBSA officer to confirm eligibility and finalize the immigration process.

Disclosure of Funds

Applicants carrying more than CAN$10,000 must declare these funds upon arrival in Canada to avoid fines or seizure.

Special Note for Quebec Applicants

Quebec administers its own business immigration program. Those planning to reside in Quebec should refer to the Quebec immigration website for specific guidelines and requirements.


This comprehensive overview of Canada’s Start-Up Visa Program is designed to assist potential immigrant entrepreneurs and law firms in understanding and navigating the application process effectively. For personalized assistance and further details, consulting with an immigration lawyer is recommended.

Guide to Canada’s Self-Employed Persons Immigration Program

Canada’s Self-Employed Persons Program presents a unique pathway for those looking to contribute significantly to the country’s cultural or athletic landscape. This detailed guide is designed to assist individuals and legal professionals in navigating the program’s intricacies.

Overview of the Self-Employed Persons Program

This program enables individuals to immigrate to Canada as self-employed persons, specifically targeting those with expertise in cultural activities or athletics. It’s an opportunity to leverage one’s skills in these areas to gain permanent residency in Canada.

Program Highlights

  • Targeted Fields: Emphasis on cultural activities and athletics.
  • Permanent Residency: A path to living permanently in Canada as a self-employed individual.

Financial Obligations

  • Application Fee: The process starts from a fee of $2,140.

Eligibility Criteria

To qualify for this program, candidates must meet specific criteria:

  1. Relevant Experience: Applicants must have significant experience in cultural or athletic activities.
  2. Commitment to Contribution: An ability and willingness to contribute significantly to Canada’s cultural or athletic scene.
  3. Program-Specific Selection Criteria: Fulfilling the program’s unique selection requirements.
  4. Health and Security Clearances: Meeting medical and security conditions.

Defining Relevant Experience

  • Period of Experience: At least two years of experience within the five years preceding the application, with additional years potentially earning more points.
  • Type of Experience:
  • For cultural activities: Self-employment or participation at a world-class level for two one-year periods.
  • For athletics: Similar criteria as cultural activities, focusing on athletics.

Selection Criteria

Applicants are evaluated based on:

  • Professional Experience: Demonstrated expertise in relevant fields.
  • Educational Background: Academic qualifications, if applicable.
  • Age: As it relates to the potential for long-term contribution.
  • Language Proficiency: Proficiency in English or French.
  • Adaptability: Ability to adjust to life in Canada.

Application Procedure

Required Documentation and Fees

  • Completion and Submission of Forms: Accurate and complete application forms are essential.
  • Fee Payment: Both processing and biometrics fees must be paid.
  • Supporting Documents: Submission of all necessary documentation.

Biometrics Collection

  • Biometrics Requirement: All applicants between 14 and 79 years need to provide biometrics.
  • Booking Appointments: Timely scheduling of biometrics appointments is crucial.

Additional Application Considerations

Medical and Security Checks

  • Mandatory Medical Exams: Required for both applicants and their family members.
  • Police Certificates: Necessary for applicants and adult family members from countries of residence since age 18.

Processing Times and Updates

  • Prompt notification of any changes in personal circumstances is vital to avoid application delays.

Final Steps and Arrival in Canada

Decision on Application

  • Based on eligibility, financial stability, medical exams, and police checks.
  • Applicants may need to provide additional documents or attend interviews.

Preparing for Entry into Canada

  • Required Documents: Valid passport, permanent resident visa, and Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR).
  • Financial Proof: Evidence of sufficient funds for settlement in Canada.

CBSA Interview upon Arrival

  • Verification of eligibility and documentation by a CBSA officer.
  • Confirmation of Canadian mailing address for the permanent resident card delivery.

Financial Disclosure Requirements

  • Declaration of Funds: Mandatory declaration of funds over CAN$10,000 upon arrival to avoid penalties.

Pax Law can help you!

Our team of skilled immigration lawyers and consultants is prepared and eager to support you to choose your immigration pathway. Please visit our appointment booking page to make an appointment with one of our lawyers or consultants; alternatively, you can call our offices at +1-604-767-9529.


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