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Shabnam Akrami is the Managing Partner and Founder of Akrami & Associates.

Important Information about Start-up Visas

Important Information about Start-up Visas

Learn About a Start-up Visa

The Canadian government is looking to attract entrepreneurs. As such, they have introduced a very unique immigration opportunity available to individuals who see themselves as entrepreneurs and who have an innovative business idea. In fact, the Canadian government claims the Start-up visa program, is the only one of its kind in the world – though, I’m not about to fact check that. The point is this opportunity is not to be overlooked if it is something which could even possibly be in your future. Therefore, throughout this article, we will provide all the valuable information you need to understand the start-up visa program, and assess whether this could possibly be an option for yourself.

What is the Start-Up Visa Program?

This is a program as the name suggests which is geared to help individuals who can prove they have a strong business proposal and a good chance of success, actually start a business and come to Canada as permanent residents. Because the government will be assisting you with your application, the process is highly selective. Essentially, the purpose of the start-up visa program is to attract talented entrepreneurs to Canada, to ultimately boost the Canadian economy. The Canadian government believed the program to be mutually beneficial. Therefore, while the hope is the foreign national will have a positive effect on the Canadian economy, the belief is the foreign national will also experience plenty of advantages as well.

Why the Start-up Visa Program?

As I mentioned, the Canadian government believes they are offering a valuable opportunity to individuals. They advertise the advantages of this program, and the overall advantages of opening a business in Canada as experiencing “The Canadian Advantage.” On the Citizenship and Immigration Canada website, the following reasons are listed as reasons to build a business in Canada; there are some very valuable compelling points are worth mentioning:

  • Canada has strong economic growth
    • Rated by Forbes magazine as the best country in the G-20 with which to do business. Canada has the strongest fiscal position in the G-7 and among the best fiscal prospects in the G-20.
  • Business owners have low taxes and low business costs:
    • Canada offers a low-cost and low-tax environment so your business can thrive. Canada’s overall tax rate on new business investment is significantly lower than that of other G-7 countries. KPMG ranks Canada as the most tax competitive country in the G-7.
  • Canada is a hub for excellence in research and innovation:
    • Canada offers a winning environment for research and innovation, including world-leading research and development (R & D) infrastructure, scientific talent and innovation incentives. Combined federal and provincial credits can return to foreign investors, on average, up to 30 percent of their R & D investment in Canada.
  • Canada has top quality of life:
    • This arguably provides a great backdrop for the success of individuals, families and globally engaged companies. According to the World Bank, in 2011 Canadians enjoyed nearly the highest standard of living in the G-20. Canada is home to a highly educated, flexible and multicultural work force.

How Do I Apply for this Program?

To apply, first you have to become eligible for the program. As I mentioned, there is a fairly strict application process, so the eligibility requirements can be expected to be specific as well. First and foremost, before you can even consider applying for a start-up visa, you should consider your business idea, and draw out a very, very detailed business plan. This business plan may be used to try to secure an investment from a designated Canadian angel investor group or venture capital fund to invest in your business idea, while it will also need to be used to convince the Canadian government you should be awarded a start-up visa. Once you have a business plan which will bring you to success, you can begin to propose your plan to a designated Canadian angel investor group or venture capital fund, to try to secure an investment to fund your business idea, and essentially sponsor your start-up visa to Canada. You will only be able to apply for a start-up visa once you have secured a financial commitment, so, it is very important to know of this step before beginning the application process. This is a fairly strenuous eligibility requirement, but the good news is, the other requirements are standard of applications for permanent residence.

What Should I Include in my Application?

There are a variety of things which should be included, again, because the application process is very selective. Because of this, it is very important to submit a complete and compelling application. Essentially, your application is intended to show you are eligible for the start-up visa program, but the selection process will be based on who is most expected to succeed in the Canadian Economy. To show you are eligible, you will need to prove the following:

  • That you have a qualifying business idea,
  • That your business is supported by a designated organization,
  • Prove that you meet the language requirements,
  • You must meet the minimum level of the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 5 in either English or French in all of the four tested areas
  • Show that you have enough money to settle.

Please refer to the following chart to determine how much money you are expected to have, depending on your situation.

Number of
Family Members

Funds Required
(in Canadian dollars)















For each additional family member


How Do I Prove I have a Qualifying Business?

To have a qualifying business, this obviously means your business must be financially supported by a designated Canadian angel investor group or venture capital fund to invest in your business idea. You must secure a minimum investment of a specific amount, depending on the type of company you are funded by. For example, if the investment comes from a designated Canadian venture capital fund, you must secure a minimum investment of $200,000. However, if the investment comes from a designated Canadian angel investor group, you must secure a minimum investment of $75,000. Finally, if the organization is a business incubator, you do not need to secure a minimum investment. Instead, you must be accepted into a Canadian business incubator program. This must be demonstrated in your application using a letter of support.

Beyond the investment requirement, each individual applying for the start-up visa must hold a minimum of 10% of the voting rights attached to all shares of the corporation outstanding at that time. In addition to this, the applicant(s) must hold more than 50% of the total voting rights attached to all shares of the corporation outstanding at that time.

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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