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Entrepreneurs with between $200,000 and $500,000 can apply for the Canada Start-Up Visa (SUV) if they are considering business immigration opportunities. The SUV allows entrepreneurs to gain permanent residence in Canada for both themselves and their family members. The process is simple, but hiring a consultant or lawyer is recommended to navigate the process smoothly.

This guide will cover the specifics of obtaining Canadian permanent residency by investment, including the benefits and drawbacks of SUVs and a step-by-step approach for applying.

What Is the Start-Up Visa Program?

The Start-Up Visa Program is an immigration pathway for business owners to obtain permanent residency in Canada. 

What Are the Requirements for the SUV?

As a business immigration program, the requirements include having a set amount of capital or support from designated venture capital funds, angel investors or business incubators, which are companies authorized by the Canadian government to invest in and support start-ups for the SUV. Up to five business partners can participate in the same start-up.

How Long Does It Take to Move to Canada with the SUV?

Those who are accepted can move to Canada with their families in three to six months. The entire process of obtaining permanent residence, however, can take 2.5 to three years.

How Is the SUV Different from Other Business Immigration Options?

The SUV means that, unlike other forms of the Canada investor visa, you don’t have to invest personal funds. Instead, this Canada investment visa means that a designated venture capital fund, angel investor or business incubator provides the funds for you.

Here are the things you need to know about the Start-Up Visa in Canada for 2024.

What Caps Are In Place On The Start-Up Visa?

Canada currently has caps in place on the Start-Up Visa Program designed to reduce an application backlog.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada is limiting the applications it receives each year to those associated with no more than 10 start-ups per designated organization.

IRCC is encouraging designated venture capital funds, angel investor groups and business incubators to focus on the most promising Start-Up Visa proposals.

The caps are due to remain in place until 2026.

Start-Up Visa Canada: Requirements

Applicants can apply for the SUV if they:

  • Have a Letter of Support from a designated organization in Canada
  • Incorporate their start-up within Canada
  • Individually hold a minimum of 10 per cent voting rights in the company
  • Collectively possess over 50 per cent of the voting rights with the other applicants
  • Actively manage the business, with core operations in Canada both during and after the application process
  • Have language proficiency at Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 5 in English or French
  • Have adequate funds for settlement and operations, ideally more than $200,000

Find out if you’re eligible here.

Canada Start-Up Visa Success Rate

IRCC data between January 2023 and November 2023 suggests that the approval rate for the Start-Up Visa Program is 77.2 per cent. Over this period, the IRCC processed 3,334 applications for permanent residency, approving 2,577 of them. Of these, 267 applications were withdrawn and 490 were refused.

Overall, the processing period is a little over three years (37 months). Naturally, processing times can vary based on the volume of applications the IRCC receives and the specifics of your application. It’s important to consider this before applying. 

Start-Up Visa vs Other Business Immigration Programs

The SUV is not the only option for entrepreneurs relocating to Canada. There are alternatives you can explore, including:

Here are some more details about each.

Work Permits (C11, ICT, C10)

Professionals, business owners, entrepreneurs, and investors can all apply for work permits. If you are the business’s owner, you must prove that your business will significantly improve Canada’s social, cultural, or economic standing. This could be, for example, if it can create jobs or impart information and skills.

How Much Do Entrepreneurs Need to Apply for a Work Permit?

Entrepreneurs should have access to $200,000 or more to apply. Up to two business owners can apply to be the proprietors of a single company.

Depending on where you currently live, the processing period can vary between two and six months. 

What Is a CLB Score and What Do You Need to Qualify?

The Canadian Language Benchmark (or CLB) is a test score that proves your language ability in English or French.

Generally, most work permits don’t have any language requirements, but you need a CLB 6 to qualify for permanent residence.

Self-Employed Programs

The ideal candidates for this option are self-employed professionals working in creative or cultural fields, including sports. Your self-employed business must make a significant contribution to the cultural or athletic life of Canada.

What Are the Requirements for the Self-Employed Program?

To apply, you’ll need at least $50,000 and to meet CLB 5 language criteria.

What Are The Latest Developments In The Self-Employed Visa?

Canada put a pause on intake for the federal Self-Employed Visa as of April 30, 2024. The pause, intended to reduce an application backlog, will be in place until the end of 2026.

Quebec’s Self-Employed Visa remains open to applications.

Provincial Entrepreneur Programs

These programs are suited to individuals willing to start a business or invest in a particular province. It can be a new or existing business, but it should align with the target province’s economic development and diversification priorities. It also needs to contribute to the local economy. 

What Are the Requirements for Provincial Entrepreneur Programs?

The requirements and partnership limitations vary by province, but the lowest starting investment is $100,000 (Alberta). You also need a minimum language requirement of CLB 4. 

Advantages and Disadvantages of the Start-Up Visa

You should carefully consider the pros and cons of the Start-Up Visa before you apply. Make sure you understand what’s on offer so you can decide if it is right for you.

SUV Pros

  • Provides a direct pathway for permanent residence.
  • There are no limitations on business activities within Canada.
  • There is no required net worth or verification.
  • It’s open to all nationalities.
  • It allows for a partnership of five individuals.
  • There’s an opportunity to relocate to Canada while your permanent residence application is processed.

SUV Cons

  • There’s a lengthy processing time before you can obtain permanent residence.
  • There’s high competition to obtain support from designated organizations in Canada.
  • You need an extremely well-developed, viable, and scalable business model that has a proven track record.
  • You often need high capital investments to obtain support from a designated organization or venture capital fund, especially in competitive fields.
  • There is a moderate risk of refusal at the permanent residence stage.

How to Get a Start-Up Visa: Step-by-Step

If you still want to apply for the SUV, there are three basic stages:

  1. Ensuring your potential as an entrepreneur.
  2. Submitting an application.
  3. Working on building your business in Canada.

Follow the steps below to apply.

1. Conceptualize Your Business

Before you apply, you need to make sure you have a strong and viable business concept. Start with a clear business plan so that you can create a proposal; we can help you with this if you need assistance.

You’ll need:

  • Competitor research
  • Market strategy
  • Operational plan, including details on what parts of your business will be carried out in Canada

Your business idea needs to attract support, so make sure it’s viable and scalable. Our business team can help you brainstorm, research, craft a unique value proposition, and draft a business proposal. 

2. Find a Designated Organization

In Canada, there are 84 designated organizations, which include venture capital funds, business incubators and angel investor groups. Try to pick one that fits with your business, as each one works in a different industry and has distinct interests.

Furthermore, they each have different criteria Most charge administrative fees of between $10,000 and $50,000.

You can start by researching their investment histories to see what start-ups they have supported in the past. It’s worth noting that popular options may be competitive.

3. Get a Letter of Support

After selecting several designated organizations you want to pitch, follow the instructions on their websites to apply for the Start-Up Visa Program. You will have to pitch your business concept to them and explain why your business idea is viable and worth supporting.

If they are convinced, they will issue a Letter of Support, which you need for your application. Our team has years of experience with this process, so we can help you prepare a presentation, pitch, and obtain a letter of support.

4. Prepare Your Documents

Next, gather all your documentation, including the letter of support.

You’ll also need your business plan, proof of language proficiency (CLB 5 or higher), proof of settlement funds, and anything else listed in the application guide.

5. Submit Your Application

Fill out the application forms and submit them with the required documents. You’ll need to submit:

  • A Pitch Deck that communicates your business vision
  • Articles of Incorporation that prove legal business formation
  • A Capitalization Table detailing the ownership structure of the business
  • Your business logo
  • A comprehensive list of suppliers or customers
  • Documentation of intellectual property
  • Financial statements
  • Financial forecasts

Making sure you get everything right at this stage can prevent any delays down the line. Again, our team can help you craft and submit a compelling application.

6. Start Your Business

Following submission, you can start to launch and grow your business. Remember, you must launch it in Canada.

It’s important to follow anything you set out in your business plan and stick to any commitments you made to the designated organization. 

If you’re an essential member of the start-up and need to relocate to Canada urgently, you can also apply for a work permit. This means you can move to Canada while your application is processed.

7. Update IRCC About Your Progress

You’ll need to keep IRCC updated about your progress with your business. IRCC may reject your SUV application if they are not satisfied with the business’s progress, which makes it crucial to provide regular updates.

Rejections can also occur if you have a poor business model or appear to lack serious intent. Fortunately, you can mitigate these concerns by proactively providing updates every six months. This can demonstrate your commitment and avoid any concerns about the viability of your business. 

8. Wait for a Decision

After reviewing your application, IRCC will let you know its decision. They will use the information you provided in your application to contact you.

If accepted, you’ll obtain permanent resident status. However, if your application fails, you will be given the reasons why. If applicable, you’ll also receive information about how to address the issue or appeal.

Get Help with Your SUV Application

Relocating to Canada isn’t a journey you have to undertake alone. Our knowledgeable team can offer you the assistance you need to make sure your application is submitted correctly. So, whichever immigration path you decide on, our advice can support you can help you every step of the way. 

Start your application today.


Our most frequently asked questions on the Canada SUV.

How much money is required for a Start-Up Visa in Canada?

Ideally, you need enough funds to settle and establish a business in Canada. Typically, this means having access to more than $200,000.

What is the approval rate for a Canada Start-Up Visa?

The approval rate for the SUV is just over 77%, according to IRCC data collected between January 2023 and November 2023.

What are the new changes in the Start-Up Visa?

In 2024, Canada announced key changes to the Start-Up Visa Program. These include:

  • Allocating additional spots to the program, tripling the expected number of permanent residents.
  • Introducing the possibility to apply for a three-year open work permit while the permanent residency application is pending.
  • Implementing priority processing for applications supported by designated organizations with committed capital or endorsed by a business incubator in Canada’s tech network.

Is there an age limit for getting a Start-Up Visa in Canada?

No, there isn’t an age restriction for the Start-Up Visa; but, to apply for permanent residence in Canada, you need to be older than 18.