Business Class Program


Canada welcomes successful businesspeople who are seeking new opportunities and challenges. The Business Immigration Program is designed to encourage and facilitate the admission of these individuals. Both the federal and provincial/territorial governments welcome business immigrants and offer services to help immigrants start a business and settle in Canada.


Qualifying Business

  • A corporation that is incorporated in and carrying on business in Canada is a qualifying business if, at the time the commitment is made, both of the following are true:
  • Each applicant holds 10% or more of the voting rights attached to all shares of the corporation outstanding at that time.
  • Applicants and the designated entity jointly hold more than 50% of the total voting rights attached to all shares of the corporation outstanding at that time.

In order to qualify for the Start-up Business Class, a business should be incorporated and carrying on business in Canada at the time the commitment is made. However, consideration will be made for a qualifying business whose incorporation is conditional upon the attainment of permanent residence by the applicant(s).


Commitment

CA "commitment" is an agreement between the applicant and the designated entity to establish and incorporate a qualifying business in Canada. The designated entity must be one which appears in the list of designated private sector businesses. Proof and details of this agreement will be submitted in the form of a term sheet/client agreement along with the Commitment Certificate for the purposes of processing.


Qualified Participant

A person who has been issued a permanent residence document based on their application as a member of the Start-up Business class

Or

A designated angel investor group

Or

A designated venture capital fund.

Essential Person

A person who is considered to be essential to the business and who has been identified as essential by the designated angel investor group, venture capital fund or business incubator on the commitment certificate and Letter of Support. If the application for an essential person is refused for any reason, all other applications related to that commitment will also be refused.


Commitment

A term sheet/client agreement (Signed by the designated entity) in combination with a Commitment Certificate completed by an authorized member of the designated entity, binding the applicant to a designated entity. (See angel investor network, venture capital fund or business incubator above).

Commitment Certificate

A commitment sent electronically to IRCC from the designated angel investor group, venture capital fund or business incubator along with the term sheet/client agreement.

Letter of Support

A letter given to the applicant by the designated angel investor group, venture capital fund or business incubator which the applicant must include with their application.


Do you intend to reside in Quebec?

Individuals who intend to reside in Quebec are not eligible to apply under the Start-up Business Class. Under the Canada-Quebec Accord on Immigration, Quebec establishes its own immigration requirements and selects immigrants who will adapt well to living in Quebec. If you intend to come to Canada as a Quebec-selected permanent resident, you must first contact the Ministère de l'Immigration, de la Diversité et de l'Inclusion (MIDI).


Stay informed

Selection criteria, requirements and other information for applicants can sometimes change. Please note that:

  • Applications will be processed according to the rules and regulations in effect at the time of the application. These may change at any time.
  • Our Apply to immigrate to Canada page contains the latest news, selection criteria updates and applications links. Check periodically for updated information.

Eligibility criteria

For your application to be eligible for processing, you must:

  • Have received a Letter of Support from a designated entity
  • Meet the language requirements
  • Have sufficient settlement funds (transferable and available funds, free of debts or other obligations and excluding any investment made by a designated entity into their business)

Note: No more than five persons may be part of a single commitment from a designated business entity. If your commitment has more than one person related to the business proposal, an application for each person named in the Commitment Certificate must be received before final decisions will be made on any of the applications. The following information will help you determine if you meet the eligibility criteria indicated above.

The following information will help you determine if you meet the eligibility criteria indicated above.

Note: If you do not meet all of the criteria described above, do not submit an application under the Start-up Business Class, as your application will be refused. Check the other classes to see if you satisfy their eligibility criteria.

Important information. It is important that you make a careful assessment before you apply because certain fees, such as the processing fee, are non-refundable, even if your application is refused.


What are the requirements for applicants under the Start-up Business Class?

Your application to come to Canada under the Start-up Business Class will be assessed on a pass/fail basis against three requirements. The three requirements are:

  • Requirement 1: Commitment from a Designated Entity
  • Requirement 2: Ability in English, in French or both
  • Requirement 3: Settlement Funds

If you meet all three requirements indicated above, then you may qualify to immigrate to Canada under the Start-up Business Class.

Below are detailed descriptions of all the requirements that are to be assessed. Carefully review the following information and then decide if you want to apply under this class.


Requirement 1: Commitment from a Designated Entity

Private sector organizations demonstrate their support of your business idea by providing you with a Letter of Support which details the commitment they are willing to make towards your new business. They will send further details in the form of a Commitment Certificate directly to IRCC for assessment.

For your application to be eligible for processing, you must have received a Letter of Support from:

  • a designated angel investor group confirming that it is investing at least $75,000 in a qualifying business or two or more designated angel investor groups confirming that they are together investing a total of at least $75,000 in such a business, or
  • a designated venture capital fund confirming that it is investing at least $200,000 in a qualifying business or two or more designated venture capital funds confirming that they are together investing a total of at least $200,000 in such a business, or
  • a designated business incubator which confirms that it accepting a qualifying business into its program.

What to do with the Letter of Support once you have it?

You must include your Letter of Support with your application. If you do not, your application will be returned to you as incomplete.

Where to obtain a Letter of Support?

Consult the list of designated venture capital funds, angel investor groups and business incubators.

How long is the Letter of Support valid for?

Each Letter of Support is valid for a period of six months from the date it was issued. This means that we must receive your application for permanent residence under the Start-up Business Class within six months of the Letter of Support being issued.


Requirement 2: Ability in English, in French or both.

The ability to communicate and work in one or both of Canada’s official languages is very important to you as a business immigrant. Proficiency in English, French or both will help you in the Canadian labour market.

You meet the language proficiency requirement for the Start-up Business Class if you have a level of proficiency of at least benchmark level 5 in either official language for all four language skill areas, as set out in the Canadian Language Benchmarks and the Niveaux de compétence linguistique canadiens.

You will be assessed on the following language skill areas:

  • listening;
  • speaking;
  • reading; and
  • writing.

You must provide proof of your language proficiency with your application.


Federal Start-up Visa

The Start-Up Visa program is unique to Canada and has been implemented to encourage foreign entrepreneurs to come to Canada, create new jobs and stimulate economic growth.

A program such as the Start-Up Visa expects a limited number of applicants due to its narrow focus, but the focus is on quality not quantity and achieving a track record of success.

To be a member of the start-up business class, a foreign national must:

  • have obtained a written commitment for a total investment of at least $75,000 by one or more designated angel investor groups,
  • obtain a written commitment for a total investment of at least $200,000 by one or more designated venture capital funds,
  • have the commitments signed by a person with proper authority,
  • have attained the specified level of language proficiency,
  • have completed at least one year of high school in good standing,
  • have the appropriate funds available as designated by Statistics Canada under the Statistics Act.

In cases where there is more than one applicant concerning the same business, if an applicant deemed essential to the business is refused permanent residency then the other applicants will be classified as not having met the requirements and their applications will be refused as well.

In certain scenarios, peer reviews may be required to assess the commitment. The peer review panel is not under the Minister’s control and the officer deciding whether the applicant meets the requirements for the visa does not necessarily need to consider the assessment.


Looking to get a start up visa? We can help!

It is recommended that individuals seek the help of a legal professional who knows how to send a package that will provide an applicant with the best chance to get a start up visa contact us to get started.