If you have an innovative idea and would like to open a business in Canada, you’ll need a visa. More specifically, you will have to apply for the Canada Startup Visa Program for Entrepreneurs.
Canada’s Startup Program offers great opportunities to new foreign businesses trying to get a foot in Canada. However, you will have to meet eligibility requirements before you qualify for a Canadian startup visa.
Read on to find out about the eligibility requirements, the application process, and other information you should know before you apply for a Canada startup visa.
Do I Qualify for the Canada Startup Program?
To qualify for Canada’s Startup Program, you will initially have to meet eligibility requirements for a Canadian visa.
Eligibility requirements for a Startup Visa
If you qualify for a Canadian visa, you will have to meet the specific criteria for a Startup visa as well. Those are:
- You must have a qualifying business.
- You must have a support letter from a designated organization.
- You must have sufficient funds.
- You must meet the language requirements.
In order for your business to qualify, they must meet these requirements:
- All business owners (a maximum of five) have to hold at least 10% of the company’s voting rights.
- The business owners and the designated organization have to hold a minimum of 50% of the company’s voting rights.
What is a designated organization?
If you want to open a business in Canada, you must first get the support and investment of a designated organization.
A designated organization is an organization that the Canadian government has designated to cooperate in the Startup visa. These organizations can invest in and support new businesses through the Startup Program. They are divided in:
- Venture capital funds
- Angel investor groups
- Business incubators
You should research the different organizations and see which is the best fit for your own startup. Then, you should contact any organizations you found suited and see whether they are interested in investing in your company.
If you get the support of a designated organization, it will give you a Letter of Support. Once you have the letter, you can apply for Canada’s Startup Visa program. You will have to attach the letter to your application. Your designated organization will also send a completed Commitment Certificate directly to the IRCC.
If you receive support from more than one organization, they will have to join and send the IRCC a joint Commitment Certificate and provide you with a joint Letter of Support.
Sufficient funds for a Canadian Startup visa
When you get to Canada, you will need to have enough funds to provide for yourself or any family members that are coming with you.
You won’t receive any financial support, so you will have to bring enough money to be able to live in Canada until your business starts to bring financial gains.
You will need to have a minimum of $12,669 for yourself, and approximately $3,400 for each additional member.
Language requirements for a Canada Startup visa
In order to live in Canada, you have to be able to communicate in either or both of its official languages: English and French.
To prove your proficiency, you will have to take a test before you apply, and attach the results along with your application. Canada has a list of approved agencies on the IRCC page, such as such as IELTS or CELPIP for English, or TEF Canada or TFC Canada for French.
You have to reach at least the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 5 in either language. You will be tested on your reading, listening, speaking, and writing skills.
How to Apply for a Canada Startup Visa?
After you have confirmed your eligibility for a Canada Startup Visa, you can start the application, fill the necessary forms, and collect the necessary documents for Startup visa application.
Compile the document file
You will have to “Validate” the documents, print and sign them, and complete your application package. This will include all the necessary documents and fees.
The documents required for a Canada Startup visa include:
- The standard documents required for any Canada visa application.
- Copies of travel documents/passport. They must show the name and date of birth, passport number, the date of expiry as well as changes made to name, birth date, expiry date etc.
- Proof you have passed the language proficiency test.
- The Letter of Support from your Designated Organization.
- Birth certificates.
- Marriage certificate or divorce/annulment certificate. (If applicable)
- If married more than once, provide documents for each marriage.
- Death certificate for former spouse/common-law partner. (If applicable)
- If you have a common-law partner: Statutory Declaration of Common-Law Union (IMM 5409 – original) and proof you have lived together for a minimum of 12 months (it could be proof of shared apartment lease, shared bills, shared address on documents etc.)
- Information on your child, such as birth certificates, adoption papers, or proof of custody. (If applicable).
- National IDs or family or household registry/book. (If applicable)
- Police Certificates and Clearances. They should be from every country/territory you’ve lived in for six or more months.
- Pictures according to Canada’s requirements.
- Fee receipts.
Application Forms needed for a Startup visa application
- Generic Application Form for Canada [IMM 0008]
- Additional Dependants/Declaration [IMM 0008DEP]
- Schedule A – Background/Declaration [IMM 5669]
- Schedule 13 – Business Immigration Programs – Start Up Business
- Additional Family Information [IMM 5406]
- Statutory Declaration of Common-law Union [IMM 5409]
- Separation Declaration for Minors Travelling to Canada [IMM 5604]
- Supplementary Information – Your travels [IMM 5562]
- Use of a Representative [IMM 5476]
You will have to mail the completed application to the address you are provided with.
After you apply for a Canadian Startup visa, you will also have to provide your biometric information, such as fingerprints and pictures. Your visa application officers will inform you when and how to do that.
However, you will not be allowed to apply unless you have received support from a designated organization and they have sent their Commitment Certificate to the IRCC and given you your Letter of Support.
Make sure you have all your documents and fees attached to the application, otherwise they will send it back to you.
Temporary Work Permit for Startup Visa
You can apply for a temporary Canadian work visa to set up your business before you apply for your residence permit for the Startup Visa.
You can only apply for the work permit after you have received your Letter of Support and Commitment Certificate from your designated organization.
Other than receiving the support from your designated organization, you will need to pay an employer compliance fee and have enough income to provide for yourself and your family.
You will also have to make an offer of employment through IRCC’s Employer Portal. You will have to provide your business information details, your personal information, and a job details form.
However, a short-term work permit before the Startup visa is optional.