Your Complete Guide to Canada’s Startup Visa [Updated 2023]

Discover the latest updates and essential information about Canada’s Startup Visa program in 2023. From eligibility requirements to application procedures, we’ve got you covered on your journey to entrepreneurship in Canada.

Canada

Canada’s Startup Visa program is a unique immigration program designed to attract innovative entrepreneurs from around the world who wish to establish their startups in Canada and contribute to the country’s economy. Through the SUV program, successful applicants, founders, co-founders and their immediate family members are granted permanent residency in Canada.

Recently, some major new changes and updates were announced to the SUV program aligned with Canada’s Tech Talent Strategy. Here is a table summarizing the key changes and updates to the program in Canada under the 2023-2025 multi-year levels plan.

Startup Visa Canada Latest Changes

These changes aim to streamline the SUV Program, reduce wait times, and make it more appealing for foreign entrepreneurs to develop their businesses in Canada while awaiting their permanent residence application processing. The open work permit option, expanded eligibility, and prioritization of certain applications are notable enhancements to the program. Additional strategies for program improvement are anticipated in the near future.

Eligibility Criteria for the Startup Visa Program

Canada Startup Visa Eligibility 1

1. Qualifying Business: A qualifying business is defined as one that fulfills the following criteria:

  • Each applicant possesses at least 10% of the voting rights associated with all outstanding shares of the corporation when obtaining a commitment certificate from a designated organization.
  • The applicants collectively hold over 50% of the total voting rights tied to all outstanding shares of the corporation at that time.
  • When you obtain your permanent residency, you should be actively engaged in the management of this business from within Canad and have the business is legally incorporated in Canada.

2. Letter of Support: Your business must get a letter of support from one or more of the designated organizations. The designated organizations are divided into three categories. Here is a list of all the designated organizations for the Canadian Startup Visa Program:

No investment is required to be eligible through the designated business incubators/accelerators, however, you must be accepted into their own programs which might have fees or equity associated with it.

Each organization has its own programs and requirements. You must contact the designated organization you are interested in working with and find out information on how to get its support. The letter of support must be submitted along with the application for the Startup Visa program.

[Launch is western Canada’s premier tech accelerator and our Maple Program is designed to work with international entrepreneurs and founders going through the Canadian SUV program.]

3. Language Requirements: To be eligible for the Startup Visa program, the entrepreneur must be proficient in one of Canada’s two official languages, English or French. The entrepreneur must provide evidence of their language proficiency by taking any of the language tests mentioned below from an authorized language testing agency. 

English

  • CELPIP G-Test – Paragon Testing Enterprises Inc.
  • IELTS – Cambridge Assessment English, IDP  Australia or The British Council

French

  • TEF Canada – The Paris Chamber of Commerce and Industry
  • TCF Canada – France Education International (FEI)

You must meet the minimum level of the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 5 in either English or French in all of these four areas: Speaking, Reading, Listening and Writing. Your test results must not be more than two years old at the time that you submit your application.

4. Bring Enough Money To Settle: You must demonstrate that you have enough money to settle in Canada and support yourself and your dependents. The amount of money required depends on the size of your family.

The amount is an estimate of what you would require to support yourself and your family without employment or other income. You will be required to provide proof of funds, such as bank statements, showing that you have the required amount of money.

It is recommended that you research the cost of living in the region of Canada where you intend to live.

Proof of Funds Startup Visa Canada

Application Process – Startup Visa

The application process for Canada’s Startup Visa Program involves several steps:

Step 1: Secure a Commitment Certificate or Letter of Support from a designated organization: To apply for a startup visa, you must secure a Commitment Certificate or Letter of Support from any of the designated organizations listed earlier. These organizations are business incubators, angel investor groups, or venture capital funds that have been approved by the Canadian government. Note: Each organization has its own programs and requirements. You must contact the designated organization you are interested in working with and find out information on how to get its support. The letter of support must be submitted along with the application for the Startup Visa program.

Step 2: Gather documents & complete the application forms: Once you have secured a Commitment Certificate or Letter of Support, you can complete the application forms for the Startup Visa Program. These forms will require information about you and your business, such as your personal information, business plan, financial information, and proof of language proficiency.

Step 3: Pay the application fees: You will also need to pay the application fees when you submit your application. The fees include a processing fee and a Right of Permanent Residence Fee (RPRF).

Step 4: Wait for processing: Once you have submitted your application, you will need to wait for it to be processed. The processing time can vary depending on the volume of applications, but it generally takes several months.

Optional Work Permit: While you wait for your permanent residence through the Start-Up Visa Program (SUV), you might also be able to get an optional work permit. This would let you do the work to start your business while we process your start-up visa application.

Step 5: Attend an interview (if required): If your application is deemed eligible, you may be invited to attend an interview with a Canadian immigration officer. The purpose of the interview is to assess your business experience and knowledge, as well as your ability to establish a successful startup in Canada.

Step 6: Obtain your startup visa: If your application is approved, you will be issued a startup visa. The visa will allow you and your family members to enter Canada and work on your startup.

Please refer to the official application package for further instructions on the documents required, application forms and the step-by-step application process.

Application Process – Launch’s Maple Accelerator Program

The Maple Program was created by Launch to aid international companies currently at Seed, Series A or higher with their growth and expansion to Canada and North America. Helping tech companies by providing a landing pad with resources, mentorship, networking, and business matchmaking to overcome the challenges that occur when moving a business and family to Canada. The Maple Program is designed to work with entrepreneurs and founders going through the Canadian Start-up Visa Program or other business-specific immigration processes such as Express Entry, BC Provincial Nomination Program, and/or Global Talent Stream. 

Maple Accelerator Program Launch Vancouver

The Maple Program is a 24-month program broken down into three stages:

Ignition: The Ignition stage is conducted over 1 month and the objective is to learn about the Maple Program, the immigration process, and incorporation and corporate structure requirements for a company intending to establish their business in Canada.

Acceleration: Once your company has committed to moving forward in the Maple Program, your team will be participating in the Acceleration stage of the program.

Conducted over 11 months, the key objectives for companies are to build out their roadmap, incorporate their Canadian company, and settle on their immigration route such as the Canadian Start-up Visa Program or other business-specific immigration processes including Express Entry, BC Provincial Nomination Program, and/or Global Talent Stream. If you select the Canadian Startup Visa path, you will receive your Letter of Support/Commitment Certificate and apply for a permanent residency and/or optional work permit.

In addition to the core programming, you will receive resources including:

  • Non-Dilutive Sources of Fundraising in Canada
  • Fundraising in North America
  • Launch Your Startup Course
  • Financial Literacy Course (Brought to you by Smythe)
  • Family Landing Package
  • Traction University
  • Startup & Lifestyle Perks Worth $400,000

Momentum: As your team now awaits to move to Canada while your permanent residency applications are being processed, your team will be transitioned over to the Momentum stage of the Maple program where you will receive additional 12-month access to LaunchPad.

By the end of the program, your team will be part of a 250+ community of entrepreneurs from all over the world. You will have participated in various Launch programming and either landed or be on your way to land in Canada as a permanent resident.

Click here for more information, or check out the FAQs.

If you are not ready to apply yet, you can sign up for our newsletter to get the latest updates and info on Startup Visa & Maple program delivered to your inbox.

If you are an immigration consultant, please note that your clients must apply on their own with their own email addresses. You may assist them with their application but they do need to ensure they are applying with their details as it will be ported directly into our CRM system and our team will only work directly with the founders of the company and not with their employees or with third-party consultants.

Why Canada?

Unlike most startup visa programs in other countries, Canada does not provide temporary or conditional status. A recent report by the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) found Canada to be the most attractive destination in the world for international startup founders.

  • Thriving Economy & Government Support
  • Favourable Immigration Policy
  • Free Elementary & Secondary Education & World-Class Education System
  • Universal Public Health 
  • High Quality of Life 
Startup Visa Canada

Vancouver’s Emergence as a Global Tech Hub

Centred around scenic mountains, abundant natural beauty and a world-class standard of living, Vancouver, Canada is much more than a great place to live.

Home to some of the world’s most prominent tech companies and talent from around the world, Vancouver has emerged as a new global tech hub. Vancouver offers many advantages which make the city a great choice for today’s savvy tech startups.

  • Vancouver is a part of the Cascadia Innovation Corridor
  • Association with Silicon Valley
  • Global hub for Gaming/AR/VR and Digital Media
  • Top-notch tech talent

Canadas's Startup Visa & Launch's Maple Program

Launch is a designated organization of the Canadian Government’s Startup Visa Program & the Global Skills Strategy Program.  We help tech companies identify the best path for immigration for their team and their families through Startup Visa, Express Entry, Provincial Nomination, or Global Talent Stream. Since 2012 we have helped incubate more than 6000 entrepreneurs of which 300 have grown their startups to Seed and Series A stage and raised over $2.5 Billion in funding. Visit launchacademy.ca/maple for more information.