Start-Up Visa Program

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New Start-Up Visa opens for applications on April 1, 2013!

The Start-Up Visa Program enables immigrant entrepreneurs to launch innovative businesses that will create jobs in Canada and, eventually, compete globally. The Start-Up Visa Program links immigrant entrepreneurs with private sector groups in Canada that have experience working with start-ups and can provide essential resources.

Note: The Province of Quebec establishes its own immigration requirements. If you plan on living in Quebec, see Quebec-selected skilled workers for more information.

What is the minimum investment that I would need to apply for a start-up visa?

You must secure a minimum investment of $200,000 if the investment comes from a designated Canadian venture capital fund.

You must secure a minimum investment of $75,000 if the investment comes from a designated Canadian angel investor group.

Will I have to invest my own money if I want to apply for a start-up visa?

No, you are not required to invest any of your own money. The minimum investment required is an investment that comes from a Canadian venture capital fund or angel investor group that has been named as a participant in the program.

What happens if my business fails?

Failure of your business will not affect your permanent resident status. We recognize that not every business will succeed and this program is designed so that the risk is shared between the public and private sector.

How do I show that I have the support of Canadian investors?

The designated venture capital fund or angel investor group will give you a letter of support once you reach an agreement. You need to include this letter when you submit your application.

When you receive an investment commitment from a Canadian investor, the private sector organization will send a commitment certificate directly to CIC for the assessment to begin.

How can I qualify to get a start-up visa?

Your application to come to Canada through the Start-Up Visa Program will be assessed on a pass/fail basis on four requirements

You must have:

  • A commitment of support from a designated Canadian venture capital fund or angel investor group;
  • An ability to communicate in either French or English;
  • Completion of one year of study at a post-secondary institution; and
  • An adequate amount of money in order to settle and provide for the cost of living prior to earning an income.

If those requirements are met, your application would then be reviewed on CIC’s standard admissibility criteria, including health, criminality and security.

Find out more about the four eligibility requirements.

To be eligible to receive a start-up visa for a business venture, you must:

have received a letter of support;

A letter of support is a letter given to the applicant by the designated angel investor group or venture capital fund.

To get a letter of support, you must:

You must include your letter of support with your application.

meet the language requirements;

Language requirements

Being able to communicate and work in English, French or both will help your business in Canada.

You must prove your ability in English or French in these four areas:

  • speaking,
  • reading,
  • listening, and
  • writing.

You must meet the minimum level of CLB 5 in either English or French for all four language abilities.

If you do not meet the minimum language skills, we will refuse your application.

You must take a language test from an agency approved by CIC and include the results when you apply. If you do not, we will not process your application and we will return your fees.

You will not have another chance to prove your language proficiency. The visa officer will only use test results that you provide when you apply.

Use your test results to find your CLB level.

Acceptable documents for language requirements

You must send us proof that you meet the language requirement for the start-up visa (Canadian Language Benchmark/Niveau de compétence linguistique canadien 5). An original of any of the following documents showing that you meet the language requirement will be accepted as proof:

  1. Designated third-party test results that you already sent to CIC for a previous application as a Federal Skilled Worker or for the Canadian Experience Class, if the results are dated no earlier than two years before you apply.
  2. New third-party test results, including:
    1. CELPIP General (Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program General test); or
    2. IELTS – General training (International English Language Testing System); or
    3. Test d’Évaluation de Français (TEF) (in French only).

meet the education requirements; and

You must provide proof of your education with your application. Specifically, you will need:

  • proof of having completed at least one year of post-secondary education
  • proof that you were in good standing during at least one year while you were attending a post‑secondary institution

Your proof of education may be in the form of transcripts and a letter of good standing, or certificate or diploma or degree.

have sufficient settlement funds.

Have sufficient settlement funds

The Government of Canada does not provide financial support to new start-up business visa immigrants.

You must show that you have enough money to support yourself and your dependants after you arrive in Canada. You cannot borrow this money from another person. You must be able to use this money to support the costs of living for your family.

You will need to provide proof of your funds when you submit your application for immigration.

The amount of money you need to support your family is determined by the size of your family. These amounts are updated every year.

Number of Family MembersFunds Required (in Canadian dollars)
7 or more$29,414

How much money should you bring?

Find out how much it costs to live where you are planning to settle in Canada.

Bring as much money as possible to make moving and finding a home in Canada easier.

Disclosure of funds

If you are carrying more than C$10,000, tell a Canadian official when you arrive in Canada. If you do not tell an official, you may be fined or put in prison. These funds could be in the form of:

  • cash
  • securities in bearer form (for example, stocks, bonds, debentures, treasury bills) or
  • negotiable instruments in bearer form (for example, bankers’ drafts, cheques, travellers’ cheques or money orders).

See the updated list of the venture capital funds and angel investor groups that participate in the Start-Up Visa Program

The new start-up visa will link innovative entrepreneurs with private sector organizations in Canada that have experience working with start-ups and can provide entrepreneurs with essential resources. As a way to help these in-demand entrepreneurs fulfil their potential and maximize their impact on the Canadian labour market, they will require the support of a Canadian angel investor group or venture capital fund before they can apply for a start-up visa.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) worked with industry umbrella groups, namely Canada’s Venture Capital and Private Equity Association (CVCA) and the National Angel Capital Organization (NACO), to identify eligible private sector organizations to partner in this program.

The umbrella organizations relied on specific criteria to determine which of their members are eligible to participate in the Start-Up Visa Program.

To receive designation to participate in the Start-Up Visa Program, a venture capital (VC) fund had to be a full member in good standing of the CVCA. VC funds that met this criterion and manage over $40 million in capital were automatically eligible to participate. VC funds that manage less than $40 million had to apply to the CVCA to participate in the Start-Up Visa Program. A number of factors were considered, including referrals from current CVCA members and interviews that the CVCA conducted with the limited partners of the fund.

Angel investor groups seeking to participate in the Start-Up Visa Program applied to NACO, of which they had to be a member in good standing. They were then assessed according to a number of criteria which included the level of deal flow in the past year, evidence of a thorough due diligence process, and evidence that all members of the group are accredited investors.

Immigrant entrepreneurs will require investment commitments from a venture capital fund or an angel investor group in order to apply for permanent resident status through the Start-Up Visa Program. An applicant must secure a minimum investment of $200,000 if the investment comes from a designated Canadian venture capital fund or a minimum investment of $75,000 if the investment comes from a designated Canadian angel investor group. Applicants will also need to meet general program requirements, such as language proficiency and academic experience.

The following is a list of the venture capital funds and angel investor groups that will participate in the Start-Up Visa Program:

Venture Capital Funds

Angel Investor Groups

Toronto, April 18, 2012 — Recognizing the importance of innovation and entrepreneurship as a driver of the Canadian economy, Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney launched consultations today on whether to create a new and specialized program to attract immigrant entrepreneurs.

The announcement is the latest in a series Minister Kenney has made about transforming Canada’s immigration system into a fast and flexible system focused on jobs, growth and prosperity.

“Our Government’s top priority remains jobs, growth and long-term prosperity. Canada cannot afford to lose out in the competition for foreign entrepreneurs among immigrant-receiving countries,” said Minister Jason Kenney. “We need to proactively target a new type of immigrant entrepreneur who has the potential to build innovative companies that can compete on a global scale and create jobs for Canadians.”

Economic Action Plan 2012 highlighted Canada’s commitment to supporting entrepreneurs, innovators and world class research. It also announced the Government’s intention to build a fast and flexible economic immigration system whose primary focus is on meeting the new and emerging needs of the Canadian economy. This will include changes to Business Immigration Programs, which will target more active investment in Canadian growth companies and more innovative entrepreneurs.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) intends to consult with industry associations in the development of a “start-up” visa program for innovative entrepreneurs in the coming months. Linking immigrant entrepreneurs with private sector organizations that have experience and expertise working with start-ups will be important as newcomers often require outside assistance in successfully navigating the Canadian business environment.

This “start-up” visa initiative is an example of the type of small-scale programs that would allow CIC to try innovative approaches to economic immigration. Under the proposed changes, the Government could create new, short-term programs under the Economic Immigration Class. These programs would be limited to no more than 2,750 applications per year and would end after five years. If a program proves successful during the five-year trial period and the Department wishes to maintain it, CIC would be required to formally introduce the new economic class in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations.

“Our Government is committed to strengthening the immigration system to make it truly proactive, targeted, fast and efficient in a way that will sustain Canada’s economic growth and deliver prosperity for the future,” said Minister Kenney.

News Release — Historic New Immigration Program to Attract Job Creators to Canada

Minister Kenney Announces New Start-Up Visa, First of its Kind in the World

Toronto, January 24, 2013 — Canada will launch a brand new program on April 1 to recruit innovative immigrant entrepreneurs who will create new jobs and spur economic growth, Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney announced today.

Our new Start-Up Visa will help make Canada the destination of choice for the world’s best and brightest to launch their companies,” said Minister Kenney. “Recruiting dynamic entrepreneurs from around the world will help Canada remain competitive in the global economy.

The Start-Up Visa Program will link immigrant entrepreneurs with private sector organizations in Canada that have experience working with start-ups and who can provide essential resources. The Program is part of a series of transformational changes to Canada’s immigration system that will make it faster, more flexible and focused on Canada’s economic needs.

As a way to help these in-demand entrepreneurs fulfil their potential and maximize their impact on the Canadian labour market, they will require the support of a Canadian angel investor group or venture capital fund before they can apply to the Start-Up Visa Program. Initially, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) will collaborate with two umbrella groups: Canada’s Venture Capital & Private Equity Association (CVCA) and the National Angel Capital Organization (NACO). These groups will identify which members of their associations will be eligible to participate in the Program. CIC is also working with the Canadian Association of Business Incubation to include business incubators in the list of eligible organizations as soon as feasible.

CVCA is honoured to partner with the Government of Canada in the launch of the Start-Up Visa Program,” said Peter van der Velden, President of the CVCA and Managing General Partner of Lumira Capital. “Through this Program, we want to attract high-quality entrepreneurs from around the globe and help build best-in-class companies in Canada.

We’re excited to be a part of the Start-Up Visa Program,” said Michelle Scarborough, Board Chair of NACO. “Working with CIC and angel groups across the country, this initiative will create Canadian jobs and position Canada as a leader in innovation.

The Start-Up Visa is the first of its kind and will be a powerful incentive to attract individuals with great potential who will have a real impact on the Canadian economy. By providing sought-after immigrant entrepreneurs with permanent residency and immediate access to a wide range of business partners, Canada will position itself as a destination of choice for start-ups. Linking forward-thinking immigrant entrepreneurs with established private sector organizations is essential to the success of both investors and entrepreneurs in building companies that will compete globally and create Canadian jobs.

Jobs, growth and long-term prosperity remain priorities for the Government of Canada, and this new Start-Up Visa Program underscores our commitment to supporting innovation and entrepreneurship in the Canadian labour market,” Minister Kenney concluded.

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Photo of Minister Kenney will be available later today.

For further information (media only), please contact:

Alexis Pavlich
Minister’s Office
Citizenship and Immigration Canada

Media Relations
Communications Branch
Citizenship and Immigration Canada

Lauren Linton
Director of Marketing
Canada’s Venture Capital and Private Equity Association 

Karen Parucha
Marketing and Events Manager
National Angel Capital Organization 

Michael Donahue
Canadian Association of Business Incubation


Building a stronger Canada: Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) strengthens Canada’s economic, social and cultural prosperity, helping ensure Canadian safety and security while managing one of the largest and most generous immigration programs in the world.