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If you’re a savvy entrepreneur who wants to set up shop in Canada, applying for a start-up visa might be your best for immigration. Before you start packing your bags, though, it’s important to understand whether or not you’re eligible to receive one.

The Government of Canada has four main eligibility requirements to apply for a start-up visa:

1. You must have a qualifying business.

This criterion requires each visa applicant to have at least 10% of the voting shares in the company at the time of filing. A maximum of 5 people from a given company can apply for  a start-up visa under the title of “business owner.”

Once you receive your permanent residence, three additional stipulations will apply:

  • The business must be incorporated in Canada,
  • You must actively manage your business in Canada on an ongoing basis,
  • And an essential part of your business operations must happen in Canada.

By meeting these requirements, you are showing the government that there is a legitimate reason for your business to be based here.

2. You must have a letter of support provided by a designated organization.

A letter of support is a document issued by your angel investor or venture capital fund that acts as proof that they will be financially backing your business.

To verify if your investor falls under the category of “designated organization,” click here.

3. You must meet the language requirements.

While Canada has two official languages (English and French), you will only be required to prove your proficiency in one of them as part of your eligibility for the start-up visa.

Before you begin your application, you will need to complete a language test conducted by an approved agency. A copy of your results must be included with your immigration packet.

Your grade will be determined using the Canadian Language Benchmark system. Level 5 is considered to be a pass for this visa, which means you must obtain this score (5) in all four testing categories: speaking, listening, reading, and writing.

4. You must provide proof of sufficient funds.

Since the government does not offer financial support for immigrants on start-up visas, you must be able to prove that you have enough money to support yourself and any dependents upon arrival in Canada. This will require an official letter from your bank or financial institution.

Please note that the funds you claim to have must be your own – you are not allowed to use money borrowed from someone else to satisfy this requirement.

If you are applying for a start-up visa with no dependents, you will need $12,669 Canadian dollars to be considered eligible. Two family members require a total of $15,772 CAD, three family members require $19,390 CAD, and so on. For a complete rundown of how much money you need based on the number of family members you are bringing with you, click here.

Personal eligibility requirements for a Canadian
start-up visa

Beyond proving that your business has legitimate operations in Canada, you have financial backing from an approved investor, you speak at least one of the official languages, and you will be able to support yourself and your family upon arrival, there are general admissibility requirements for immigrating to Canada. This questionnaire will help you determine whether or not you meet them.

On the other hand, there are also certain reasons why you may be categorically inadmissible as an immigrant to Canada. These reasons include security issues like espionage or terrorism, criminal issues like DUI, ties to organized crime, and having an inadmissible family member. For a full list of criteria, click here.

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