Applying for Canada’s Start-up Visa Program: Issues That Can Affect Co-Founders and Team Members

When you’re part of a successful company in your home country, you often have other stake-holders to consider when you’re thinking about expanding. We’ve helped a lot of companies who need to think about how the decision to move and expand to Canada not only affects their company but others who have built that company. A few common questions we get about this topic are:

How many co-founders or team members can I bring with me?

Each company is allowed to bring up to a total of 5 members (including yourself). Each team member’s only allowed to bring their spouse and immediate children/dependents. All of the aforementioned parties will receive Permanent Residence through the Start-up Visa Program if they are accepted, keeping in mind that all members apply for PR separately. For this reason, we ask everyone applying to our under 1 company to apply for individual member profiles.

Can I join the Start-up Visa Program if I already live in Canada (but other members don’t)

The Start-up Visa Program is a government immigration program focused on helping companies who aren’t currently Canadian move to Canada with their existing, successful business. So, if you’re already living in Canada:

1. Yes, you can apply if you or your co-founder(s) are currently on a temporary visa
2. No, you cannot apply if you have your PR but your co-founder doesn’t and is looking to move to Canada to join you to work on the company
a. But, your co-founder can apply if they’re starting a new company that isn’t associated with an existing Canadian presence

Do me and my team members need to give up equity if we apply for the Start-up Visa Program?

No, however if you do work with a designated organization to get a letter of support in order to fast-track your PR application, you might be asked to give up equity. At Launch Academy, we are a non-profit and don’t ask for any equity in our start-ups, which you can read about here.

About Launch Academy’s Maple Program

At Launch Academy in Vancouver, we work with tech companies who are established in their home country and looking to expand into the North American Market. We’ve been a designated organization since 2017 and have been helping companies land in Canada and launch their existing product or service since 2012. We don’t take equity in companies participating in our Maple program, but charge a program fee in exchange for our programming, access to extended resources and ample networking opportunities with Founders and VCs through our exclusive events and webinars.

If you’d like to find out more about Launch Academy’s Maple Program, find out more at