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Am I eligible for the Start-Up Visa Program?

What are the requirements to receive permanent residence under the Start-Up Visa Program?

Source: CIC News

The Start-Up Visa Program (SUVP) is for entrepreneurs who want to start and grow their companies in Canada. The program is created for entrepreneurs (and identified essential people within their businesses) who want to set up, work, and grow their businesses in Canada.

Under the SUVP, business owners are given permanent residence (PR), guidance, as long as Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is satisfied that their businesses can potentially:

  • Create jobs in Canada;
  • Be innovative within a sector or industry; and
  • Can compete on a global scale.

Successful applicants under the program will retain PR status, even if their business venture should fail after immigration to Canada.


To be eligible for the program, you must own a qualifying business. This means that at any point in time you (as an owner) will need to own at least 10% of the voting rights of the business. In addition, all owners (up to five may apply together) and the designated investment organization in Canada must (at all times) collectively own at least 50% of the total voting rights.

Individuals who have such ownership must then:

  • Prove their business has sponsorship and support from a designated organization in Canada;
  • Ensure they meet the minimum language requirement for either English or French;
  • Have sufficient funds to settle and live in Canada; and
  • Pass immigration security and medical clearance checks.
  • Proving support from a designated organization

As a prerequisite, you must have support from a designated organization in Canada, including proof of funding. A designated organization is a business entity that has been approved by the government to invest in or support start-ups.

These designated organizations will need to give you a letter of support, which you will then have to include in your application for PR. In addition, the designated organization must send a commitment certificate directly to IRCC outlining their support and expectations from the venture.

Support and sponsorship can also come from multiple organizations simultaneously (also called syndication). In these cases, all designated organizations need to be identified, and will collectively submit a single letter of support and commitment certificate.

Proof of funding

Under the SUVP you do not need to invest any of your own money—however, investment and proof of funding are required.

You will need to show a certain level of funding, depending on whether your business has support from a venture capital firm, or angel investor group. Note that if sponsorship is obtained from a business incubator, you do not need to show proof of obtained funding.

  • If sponsorship has been obtained from a designated venture capital group, CAD $200,000 in confirmed funding must be shown.
  • If sponsorship has been obtained from a designated angel investor group, CAD $75,000 in confirmed funding must be shown.
  • In cases of multiple sponsorships, the higher criteria for proof of funding will apply.

A peer review will also be conducted by a governing third body of your designated institution, to ensure that all necessary checks and protocols have been followed in accordance with the SUVP.

Have sufficient funds to settle in Canada

The government of Canada does not provide financial support for successful applicants within this program. Before arriving, you will need to prove that they have a sufficient number of funds for you and your family.

Minimum language requirements

To be eligible for the SUVP, applicants must show at least a Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) level of 5 in either English or French. The CLB is a Canadian system for assessing capability in listening, reading, writing, and listening. English testing happens through IELTS or CELPIP, while French testing can be assessed through TEF or TCF.

Medical and security clearance

Canada also has standard security and medical clearance checks that must take place in order to be admissible to enter the country. Police clearance certificates/checks may be needed to prove security clearance; while an Immigration Medical Exams (IME) may be requested for medical approval.

Applicants under the program will also have the option of obtaining a temporary work permit to arrive and begin work in Canada.