Bring Your Innovative Business Idea to Canada - Immigration Blog about US & Canadian Immigration matters.
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Bring Your Innovative Business Idea to Canada


If I am a Foreign National, How do I Start a Business in Canada?

If you’re thinking about starting a business in Canada, you probably know that anyone who even wishes to work in Canada must have a work permit. This may lead you to understand, you’ll probably need some special documentation if you’re going to start a business in Canada. At the very least you’ll need a work permit, but what else? Canada truly is a land of opportunity. That is why this article will break down the process of starting a business in Canada to ensure you go about this exciting endeavor by following all the regulations set out by the Immigration and Refugees Protections Act (IRPA).

What is a Start-Up Visa?

A start-up visa is exactly what it sounds like; it is a visa which gives you permission to start-up a company. This visa was designed for entrepreneurs. The goal was to help those with creative minds come to Canada if they wish to help the Canadian economy grow. Technically, a start-up visa is not permanent status, though; it does give good, direct opportunity for individuals to become a permanent resident once they have one. Essentially, a start up visa is a method of business immigration. Nevertheless, a startup visa technically authorizes temporary stays.

Am I Eligible for a Start-Up Visa?

Through the start-up visa program, individuals can apply for this type of visa to help set themselves up in Canada, and eventually become permanent residents, though, there are some things you must do to be eligible for a start-up visa.

  • Obtain a Letter of Support from a designated angel investor group, venture capital fund or a business incubator
  • Applicant must meet ownership requirements for business, such as
    • hold a minimum of 10% of the voting rights in the business, and
    • along with the designated organization, the applicant must jointly hold more than 50% of the voting rights in the business
  • Receive a minimum score of Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 5 in all four categories (speaking, reading, writing, listening) in either English or French, and
  • Have sufficient funds to settle and maintain a living prior to earning an income
  • Be eligible according to all the other IRPA requirements, ie. Health, criminal history, security

Proving Sufficient Funds

Your financial situation will be assessed based on how many dependents are coming with you to Canada. Furthermore, you cannot loan or borrow funds from another person in order to have the necessary funds.

# of Family Members

Funds Required (CAD $)















For each additional family member


How Do I Get A Start Up Visa?

The process of applying for a start-up visa is very unique. To begin, you must pitch your business idea to a designated organization in an effort to convince them to support your business idea and ultimately, to receive a Letter of Support from them. With a letter of support from a designated organization and or/ a commitment certificate, you can get started actually forming and submitting an application for a startup visa. This is because this letter of support from a designated organization states that someone is interested and supports your endeavors, and will be providing help to assist the company in success in the Canadian economy. Most importantly, the letter of support shows you have a company investing in your idea at a minimum of $75’000, and there is incentive for the Canadian government to allow you to try to implement your idea. To get a letter of support from an organization, it is smart to contact the organization first, to find out what you need in order to seek its support. Once you are sure you meet all of the eligibility criteria and have all of the required documentation and information, you may then proceed to submit the application that must include the Letter of Support.

What Does a Start-Up Visa Do?

As mentioned, a startup visa is technically only a document which gives temporary permission to be in Canada. This type of visa is valid for 1 year and allows individuals to work on developing their business; it is not an open work permit. The visa is only valid for one year because it is only intended to provide the applicant legal status to work in Canada while their application for permanent residency is being processed. Unfortunately, this means if the application for permanent residence is not processed within a year, individuals will need to apply for an extension on their start up visa.

In the unfortunate event your business fails, this will not affect your status as a permanent resident of Canada. The government recognizes that not every business in Canada will succeed and prosper. Therefore, the start-up visa program is designed not to punish those entrepreneurs who attempt to open an innovative business in Canada, and fail.

Contact Akrami and Associates

The startup visa program is a very unique opportunity provided by the Canadian government to individuals who have creative, innovative ideas which may benefit the Canadian economy. Though, because this is such a unique opportunity, if you would like to benefit from it, it is important to prove to the Canadian government you should be awarded the privileges of a start-up visa. This is why it is so important to submit a strong, well prepared application. Keep in mind, start-up visa applications are difficult to pursue on your own and the process can be overwhelming, especially if you are unfamiliar. It is highly recommended that you seek out professional and experienced help before attempting to apply. Here, at Akrami & Associates, we work and have experience with many different immigration issues. We have helped many of our clients become permanent residents and start their businesses in Canada. If you believe that you may be eligible to apply for a visitor visa, please feel free to contact Akrami & Associates at our office at 416-477-2545 for more information or if you would like to book a consultation with an immigration professional for more advise.

With Akrami & Associates, there is always a way!

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