Startup Visa Lawyer: Your Guide to the Start-up Visa

Canada’s Start-up Visa Program is a unique initiative designed to attract innovative entrepreneurs from around the world who have the potential to build businesses in Canada that can compete on a global scale. This program, known as Canada's Start-Up Visa, aims to foster economic growth and create job opportunities for Canadians by supporting foreign entrepreneurs who bring new ideas and ventures to the country. A strong and viable business idea is crucial for the Start-up Visa Program, as it is essential to demonstrate the uniqueness and market potential of the idea to increase the chances of success.

How Does the Program Work?

The Canadian Startup Visa Program connects foreign entrepreneurs with Canadian private sector organizations that have the expertise to help them establish and grow their start-up businesses. Well-documented start up visa applications are crucial for a successful process. These organizations include designated venture capital funds, angel investor groups, and business incubators. The process involves several key steps:

  1. Secure a Commitment from a Designated Organization: To qualify for the Canadian Startup Visa Program, applicants must secure a commitment from one of the designated organizations. These organizations must agree to support the start-up. The type of commitment required varies:

  • Venture Capital Funds: Applicants must secure at least $200,000 CAD in investment from a designated Canadian venture capital fund.

  • Angel Investor Groups: Applicants must secure at least $75,000 CAD in investment from a designated Canadian angel investor group.

  • Business Incubators: Applicants must be accepted into a designated Canadian business incubator program.

  1. Meet Language Requirements: Applicants must demonstrate proficiency in English or French, Canada’s two official languages. This ensures that they can effectively communicate and operate their business in Canada. The required level is Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 5 in speaking, listening, reading, and writing.

  2. Prove Sufficient Settlement Funds: Applicants must show that they have enough money to support themselves and their family members once they arrive in Canada. The amount required depends on the size of the family and is updated annually to reflect cost-of-living adjustments.

  3. Pass Canadian Security and Medical Clearances: Like all immigration programs, applicants must pass background checks and medical exams to ensure they are not inadmissible to Canada for security or health reasons.

Who is Eligible to Apply?

The Start-up Visa Program is a key component of Canada's business immigration strategy, designed to attract entrepreneurs with innovative business ideas and the ability to contribute to the Canadian economy. Federal business programs, such as the Start-Up Visa Program and the Self-Employed Persons Program, play a crucial role in this strategy by implementing changes to reduce processing times and backlogs, making the programs more sustainable and effective.

To be eligible, applicants must meet the following requirements:

  • Qualifying Business: To qualify under this program, each applicant must hold 10% or more of the total voting rights in the business. Additionally, the applicants and the designated organization together must hold more than 50% of the total voting rights. If the application is successful, the business must be incorporated in Canada, provide active and ongoing management from inside Canada, and ensure that an essential part of its operations occurs in Canada.

  • Letter of Support: Applicants must obtain a letter of support from a designated organization, which serves as proof of their commitment to the start-up. This letter is crucial for the application and must be included in the submission. Designated organizations are business groups approved to invest in or support potential start-ups. Each calendar year, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will consider only 10 complete group applications per designated organization, with applications reviewed on a first-come, first-served basis.

  • Language Proficiency: Applicants must meet minimum language requirements in English or French. They need to achieve Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 5 in listening, reading, writing, and speaking. The results must come from a language test conducted by an approved agency.

  • Settlement Funds: Applicants must demonstrate that they have enough money to support themselves and their dependents once they arrive in Canada. The Government of Canada will not provide financial support to start-up visa immigrants, so applicants must have proof of funds that are accessible, transferable, and not limited by debts or other obligations.

Am I Entitled to a Work Permit for Permanent Residence?

Yes, applicants under the Start-up Visa Program are entitled to apply for a temporary work permit while their application to obtain permanent residence is being processed. The work permit allows the entrepreneur to come to Canada and begin working on their start-up business immediately. However, there are specific conditions and steps involved in obtaining the work permit:

Who Can Apply For a Work Permit from a Designated Organization

To be eligible for this work permit, you must:

  • Have already submitted your permanent residence application for the Start-up Visa Program.

  • If you’re part of an investor group, all essential members of your group must submit their permanent residence applications before you can get a work permit.

  • Intended to live in a province or territory other than Quebec.

  • Show that your work or business will provide a significant economic benefit to Canada.

The Self-Employed Persons Program, which has recently paused new applications, also plays a crucial role in Canada's immigration landscape, highlighting the need for faster processing times and impacting immigrant entrepreneurs seeking permanent residence.

What Are Significant Economic Benefits?

Significant economic benefits include:

  • Job creation

  • Product or service innovation

  • Boost to remote economies

  • Training opportunities for Canadians

How Much Money Do I Need to Bring for Me and My Family?

To qualify for a work permit, you must have enough money to meet the minimum income requirement (for your family size) for 52 weeks. 

Minimum Income Needed Based on Your Family Size as of 2024:

Size of Family Unit

Size of Family UnitMinimum Necessary Income
1 person$27,514
2 persons$34,254
3 persons$42,111
4 persons$51,128
5 persons$57,989
6 persons$65,401
7 persons$72,814
More than 7 persons$7,412 per additional person


What Family Can Come With You?

If you apply for a work permit, you may be able to bring your spouse or common-law partner and dependent children. They need to meet the requirements for temporary residence. This includes children who are too young to attend school. Family members coming with you can also apply for an open work permit if they’re eligible. Any dependent children coming with you can apply for a study permit. Each family member must fill out a separate application form for a visitor visa or eTA, work permit, or study permit. You can submit all applications for your family with your work permit application.

Why Hire AKM Law as Your Lawyer for the Start-up Visa Program

Hiring AKM Law for your Startup Visa Program application ensures you receive expert guidance from experienced immigration professionals who understand the intricacies of Canada’s immigration laws and business landscape. AKM Law offers personalized service tailored to your unique business and immigration needs, ensuring that your application is meticulously prepared and all necessary documentation is accurately completed. Their expertise in securing commitments from designated organizations, navigating language and financial requirements, and managing potential complications significantly increases your chances of a successful outcome. With AKM Law handling the legal complexities, you can focus on developing your innovative business while confidently progressing through the immigration process.


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