Canada Start Up Visa

Table of Contents

Business Immigrants: Federal Investor Immigration Program

Canada’s federal immigrant investor program has been closed since June of 2014, but currently, there are two other programs available for entrepreneurs wishing to immigrate to Canada:

  • Start-up Visa program: As we explain below, this program supports innovative business plans that have the potential to create a global business presence and can manage to win the support of business groups in Canada for financing and development.
  • Self-employed person immigration program: This program deals only with cultural and athletic areas of endeavour and is aimed at people with experience and exceptional skills in either athletics or cultural industries.


Immigrate to Canada with the Start-Up Visa: Eligibility

To qualify for the start-up visa program, you must meet the following criteria:

  • When you gain the support of a designated business organization (see below), your business is a corporation with up to 5 owners who must each have at least 10% of the voting rights of the shares (stock) of the company.
  • The combined holdings of both you the applicant(s) and the designated organization must be greater than 50% of the voting rights of the company’s voting shares.
    • Please note that under Canadian securities law (and in other countries as well), there are often 2 classes of shares or stock: common shares held be the general public, and those with voting rights.
  • When you receive your permanent residence status as a result of successfully applying to the start-up visa program, you must show that:
    • You manage the company on an active and ongoing basis from within Canada.
    • Key aspects of your business will occur within Canada even if you eventually achieve a global reach.
    • Your business is incorporated in Canada under Canadian securities law.
  • You must obtain a letter of support from what is called a designated organization. This is a consulting group or business specializing in developing businesses. These are the official designated organizations you can choose from, which fall into 3 categories of designated organizations each of which have different rules:
    • Venture Capital funds – minimum qualifying support of $200,000
      • 7 Gate Ventures: go here for more information.
      • BCF Ventures: go here for more information.
      • BDC Venture Capital: go here for more information.
      • Celtic House Venture Partners: go here.
      • Extreme Venture Partners LLP: go here.
      • Golden Venture Partner Fund. LP: go here.
      • Impression Ventures: go here.
      • Innovation Platform Capital International LP: go here.
      • iNovia Capital Inc: go here.
      • Lumira Capital: go here.
      • Nova Scotia Innovation Corporation (Innovacorp): go here.
      • Pangaea Ventures Ltd: go here.
      • PRIVAQ Capital Funds: go here.
      • Real Ventures: go here.
      • Relay Ventures: go here.
      • ScaleUp Venture Partners Inc: go here.
      • Top Renergy Inc: go here.
      • Vanedge Capital Limited Partnership: go here.
      • Version One Ventures: go here.
      • Westcap Management Ltd: go here.
      • Yaletown Venture Partners Inc. go here.
      • York Entrepreneurship Development Institute (YEDI) VC Fund: go here.
    • Angel Investor groups – minimum qualifying support of $75,000
      • Canadian International Angel Investors: go here.
      • Ekagrata Inc: go here.
      • Golden Triangle Angel Network: go here.
      • Keiretsu Forum Canada: go here.
      • Oak Mason Investments Inc: go here.
      • Southeastern Ontario Angel Network: go here.
      • TenX Angel Investors Inc: go here.
      • VANTEC Angel Network Inc: go here.
      • York Angel Investors Inc: go here.
    • Business Incubators – there is no minimum qualifying support, instead you must be accepted into one of these programs (which sometimes also function under the start up or angel investor categories above) listed below:
      • Alacrity Foundation: go here.
      • Agrivale Processing Business Incubator: go here.
      • Food Processing Development Centre: go here.
      • Biomedical Commercialization Canada Inc: go here.
      • Creative Destruction Lab: go here.
      • Empowered Startups Ltd: go here.
      • Extreme Innovations: go here.
      • Genesis Centre: go here.
      • Highline BETA Inc: go here.
      • Innova Corp: go here.
      • Innovate Niagara: go here.
      • Invest Ottawa: go here.
      • Planet Hatch: go here.
      • Latam Startups: go here.
      • Launch Academy Vancouver: go here.
      • Launchpad PEI Inc: go here.
      • Millworks Centre for Entrepreneurship: go here.
      • NEXT Canada: go here.
      • North Forge Technology Exchange: go here.
      • Platform Calgary: go here.
      • Founder Fuel: go here.
      • Ryerson Futures Inc: go here.
      • Spark Commercialization and Innovation Centre: go here.
      • Spring Activator: go here.
      • Toronto Business Development Centre TBDC: go here.
      • Techstars Canada: go here.
      • VIATEC: go here.
      • Waterloo Accelerator Centre: go here.
      • York Entrepreneurship Development Centre: go here.

Remember that as an applicant to the Start-up Visa program, it is your responsibility to secure a letter of support from one (or even more than one) of the above listed designated organizations. This involves a few basic but key steps that are your responsibility to undertake:

  • Contact a designated organization to get information on what process they have for accepting and reviewing proposals for a Start-up Visa.
  • Present your business plan to the organization once they have indicated they are willing to listen to your proposal and try and convince them to lend their support. In the first two classes of designated organizations, this will involve securing a specific dollar amount of funding (either $200,000 or $75,000 depending on which type of organization is involved as we outlined above).
  • If and when you reach an agreement with an organization, they will then send you a letter of support which you will use in your application to IRCC.
  • The designated organization will also send what is called a commitment certificate directly to IRCC’s Start-up Visa program, which will also form part of your application.

You must also meet basic English and/or French language requirements.

  • You must take a language test from an approved organization (go here and scroll down to the bottom of the page to see a list).
  • Your test results must be equivalent to at least a Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) level of 5. Go here to see what scores you must get in your language test to achieve a CLB score of 5.

You will have to show you have sufficient funds to settle in Canada. The following table illustrates the current levels (which are periodically updated to reflect current costs of living in Canada):

Number of family members Required funds (in Canadian dollars)
1 $12,960
2 $16,135
3 $19,836
4 $24,083
5 $27,315
6 $30,806
7 $34,806
Each additional family member $3,492 per additional person

This table gives minimum legal requirements. It is suggested you bring as much money as possible into Canada in order to facilitate finding a home (especially if you are considering buying a home and will need to make a down payment when obtaining the mortgage).


How to Apply for the Canadian Start Up Visa

Go here to see the instruction guide for your Application Form: Application for Permanent Residence – Business Immigration Program – Start-up Business Class (IMM 5759). Read it carefully as it contains complete instructions on how to apply.

Go here to download the document checklist (IMM 5760E). If you can’t open the page click on save as and download the PDF to your PC’s hard drive. Then open it from there and print it.

Go here to fill out the Generic Application form for Canada IMM 0008. As before, if you can’t open the page, right-click and choose save as and download to your pc. Then open it from your pc’s hard drive. Then fill the form out online and print it. Be sure to click the Validate button whenever it appears either at the top or bottom of the page before printing out the completed form. Sign and date it.

Print out the document checklist and gather every required document from that list. Then place the documents (with translations, certifications, etc. if required) in a sealed envelope along with any identification documents or copies of you are required to send. Print out the document checklist and sign it. Place the document checklist at the top of your application where IRCC officials can easily access it.

You will have to pay several fees as outlined in the table below:

Fees $CAN
Processing fee $1,575
Right of Permanent Residence Fee $500
Processing fee – spouse or partner $825
Right of Permanent Residence Fee – spouse or partner $500
Include a dependent child $225 per child
Biometrics fee – per person $85
Biometrics fee – per family (2 or more persons) $170


Go here to see if you have to give biometrics. You should pay the biometrics fee along with your other fees when you apply (if not you will face further delays in processing your application). You will then receive a Biometrics Instruction Letter telling you where and when to give biometrics. Bring the letter with you when you go to give biometrics.

As well, please remember you are responsible for paying the fees for the following third-party tests:

  • Medical exams (only from an approved panel physician – go here)
  • Police certificates
  • Language tests

It is vital that you print your receipts for all your fee payments once they have been paid online before you log off the site found here. Your receipts must be included in your application package.

Finally, until all your partners in your planned business have applied the application for the Start-up Visa will not proceed to processing. Please ensure all your partners apply as soon as reasonably possible.

Once you have completed, validated, printed and signed the application forms and included all supporting documents, you must then mail your package to the following address:

By regular mail:

Immigration Refugees & Citizenship Canada

Centralized Intake Office – Start Up Business Class

P.O. Box 8700

Sydney NS B1P 0G2



By courier:

Immigration Refugees & Citizenship Canada

Centralized Intake Office – Start Up Business Class

49 Dorchester Street

Sydney NS   B1P 5Z2



Quebec Immigrant Investor Program

The province of Quebec manages its own immigrant investor program. All applicants to the investor program must be selected by Quebec and must plan on settling in Quebec. For more information about investing in Quebec, please visit the website of the Quebec Government.


Federal Venture Capital Pilot Program – CLOSED

The rest of the page describes the former IIVC pilot program, which was supposed to replace the federeal investor immigration program. It was closed due to lack of applicants. The details are provided for information only.

You must have a personal net worth of CAD$10 million or more. If you reach a second stage review you must produce a due diligence report by a third party that proves your personal net worth has been achieved by lawful private business and/or investment activities such as:

  • Income and/or capital gains earned through the management and/or ownership of a commercial for-profit entity;
  • Income and/or capital gains or other financial gains earned through participation in public equity investments;
  • Income and/or capital gains or other financial gains earned through private equity placements;
  • Personal net worth obtained from an inheritance or from the value of your primary residence WILL NOT be considered when calculating your net worth. Your Net Worth will be calculated as follows:
    • Net Worth = Fair Market Value of Your & Spouse’s / Partner’s Assets – Fair Market Value of Associated Liabilities.

The Due Diligence Report, if your application reaches the second stage review, should be paid for by you and produced by one of the following companies/consultants:


The Due Diligence Report is a third-party examination of:

  • Your past business or investment experience;
  • The source of your funds that make up your personal net worth;
  • Your net worth and whether it was acquired through lawful, private-sector business means;
  • You do not need to submit a due diligence report when you apply. You will be asked to produce one (including paying all associated fees charged by the consultants you choose) when and if your application reaches a second stage review.


The IIVC Fund

You must also be willing and able to invest CAD$2 million in the Immigrant Investor Venture Capital Fund, or IIVC Fund. You must sign a contract with CIC and commit the funds for a period of approximately 15 years. The fund will be managed by BDC Capital, the investment arm of the Business Development Bank of Canada and by participating fund managers with previous experience in the government’s Venture Capital Action Plan.

Your CAD$2 million investment will be what is called an at-risk investment. This means that your returns are not guaranteed and you could lose some or all of the funds invested. You will receive any proceeds due you over the course of the 15 year term, or at the end of the term, depending on the contract you sign with CIC.

You will have no active role in managing your investment, but you will be responsible for any capital management fees and interest carrying costs. Once you receive CIC’s written request for the CAD$2 million, you will have 75 days from the date of the letter to transfer the funds to CIC. Failure to do so within the 75 days will invalidate your application.



You must show English or French language proficiency equivalent to Canadian Language Benchmark, or CLB, 5. To prove your language proficiency to the CIC, you must take an English language test from one of the following organizations:



International English Language Testing System: You must take the General Training test for the reading and writing parts of the test. The equivalent IELTS scores for each CLB level are as follows:

CLB Level IELTS Listening IELTS REading IELTS Writing IELTS Speaking
9 and Above 8.0-9.0 7.0-9.0 7.0-9.0 7.0-9.0
8 7.5 6.5 6.5 6.5
7 6.0 6.0 6.0 6.0
6 5.5 5.0 5.5 5.5
5 5.0 4.0 5.0 5.0



Canadian English Language Proficiency Program: You must take the CELPIP-G 2014 test. The equivalent scores for each CLB level are:

CLB Level CELPIP Speaking CELPIP Listening CELPIP Reading CELPIP Writing
9 and Above 9+ 9+ 9+ 9+
8 8 8 8 8
7 7 7 7 7
6 6 6 6 6
5 5 5 5 5



For French language proficiency only. You must take all four TEF tests for speaking, listening, reading, and writing. The equivalent scores are:

CLB Level TEF Speaking TEF Listening TEF Reading TEF Writing
9 and Above 371+ 298+ 248+ 371+
8 349-370 280-297 233-247 349-370
7 310-348 249-279 207-232 310-348
6 271-309 217-248 181-206 271-309
5 226-270 181-216 151-180 226-270

TEF tests are in French and for French-language applicants only.

  • To be eligible, you must achieve a minimum equivalent to CLB 5 in each of the 4 tests listed in the above tables. That means that any score below those shown in the tables will disqualify you.
  • Remember to send the original copies of your language test along with your application. DO NOT have the testing organizations – IELTS, CELPIP, or TEF – send the results directly to CIC as they will not be accepted.



To qualify you must have one of the 2 following types of post-secondary education credentials:

Go here for an in-depth look at obtaining an ECA for your foreign academic credentials

Once you have chosen a CIC-designated organization you should:

  • Gather the documents the organization requests from you and your school;
  • Obtain multiple copies of degrees, diplomas, & certificates as well as academic transcripts from your school;
  • Submit the documents to your organization;
  • Pay the fees;
  • Have them send the ECA report to you.

When you receive your ECA report you must check: that the report states that your foreign credentials are valid; and that the assessment outcome on your ECA report corresponds to one of the acceptable ECA assessment outcomes listed below:

College Certificate College-level Certificate (completed) University Certificate University Diploma One-year Certificate in… College Diploma
College Diploma (2 years) Diploma (2 years) 2-year Diploma in… Secondary School Diploma plus Diploma (2 years) Associate Degree Associate of (arts/science) Degree
College Diploma (3 years) Diploma (3 years) 3-year Diploma in… Bachelor’s Degree Applied Bachelor’s Degree Bachelor’s Degree (3 years)
3-year Bachelor Degree, specializing in… Bachelor’s Degree (4 years) 4-year Bachelor’s Degree, specializing in… Post-Bachelor’s Cerrtificate Post-Bachelor’s Diploma Graduate Certificate
Postgraduate Certificate Postgraduate Diploma 2-year Postgraduate Diploma, specializing in… 1-year Postgraduate Certificate in… Study toward a Master’s Degree Master’s Degree
Master’s Degree (taught) Master’s of… Master’s Degree, specializing in… Doctorate Degree Doctorate Degree (PhD.) Professional Doctorate Degree
Doctorate of…

If your credentials are valid and equivalent to one of the acceptable outcomes listed above, then your foreign educational credentials qualify. You should then send the original ECA assessment report with your application. DO NOT have the organization send the report directly to CIC. Be sure to also include copies of your degrees, diplomas, or certificates, as well as academic transcripts along with your ECA report

Your ECA assessment report must be less than 5 years old when your application is received by CIC.

If you have Canadian post-secondary degree, diploma, or certificate then send a copy of that along with your academic transcripts.

If you have a personal net worth of CAD$50 million or more you may apply to be exempted from the educational requirements.




Step 1: Gathering Documents

Use Form IMM5807 Document Checklist to see a list of the documents you need to submit with your application. All documents not in English or French must meet the following requirements:

  • A translated copy in English or French that is NOT DONE by the applicant or by family members;
  • An affidavit from the person who completed the translation, swearing to the accuracy of the translation and the language proficiency of the translator. It must be sworn in the presence of:
    • In Canada: a notary public; a commissioner of oaths; or a commissioner of taking affidavits;
    • Outside Canada: a notary public;
  • A certified copy of the original document. A person of authority (see below) must compare the copy with the original document and write on the photocopy of the document:

    “I certify that this is a true copy of the original document”
    The name of the original document;
    The date of the certification;
    Their name;
    Their official position or title;
    Their signature.

  • The persons authorized to certify copies are:
    • In Canada: a notary public; a commissioner of oaths; or a commissioner of taking affidavits;
    • Outside Canada: a notary public.


Step 2: Complete the Application

Form IMM 0008Generic Application Form for Canada: This is completed by you, the principal applicant on behalf of yourself and your dependants. Remember to list all your family members in your application, whether they are accompanying you to Canada or not. Also provide information on any family members whose whereabouts are unknown.

It is best to download the form and fill it out electronically on a computer as this reduces errors and avoids delays in processing your application.

You can add up to 5 dependants on Form IMM 0008. If you have more than 5 dependants you must complete the Form IMM 008DEPAdditional Dependants/Declaration: This is to be completed by you, the principal applicant on behalf of your additional dependants. The questions you must answer are the same as those dealing with your dependants on the generic application.

Form IMM 5669Schedule A/Background Declaration: This must be completed by you, the principal applicant, your spouse or partner, and all dependants over 18 years old, whether they are accompanying you to Canada or not. It contains questions on personal information as well as whether any of you were involved in any criminal or other activities that could cause security concerns for Canadian immigration authorities.

Form IMM 008 SCHEDULE 17Immigrant Investor Venture Capital Class: This must be completed by you and lists your basic requirements as an IIVC applicant:

Make sure you provide your language test results and ECA report with this form.

Form IMM 5476Use of a Representative: this form is needed if you choose to use an authorized representative, or are cancelling a representative’s appointment. You must complete the form, as well as any dependent over 18, who must complete their own copy of this form. Your spouse/partner does not have to complete a separate form but must sign the form in the box under question 10.

There are 2 types of representatives:

  1. Uncompensated representatives: friends, family members, consultants, lawyers etc. advice you on your application and DO NOT charge any fees of any kind.
  2. Compensated representatives: Consultants who charge a fee and are authorized by the CIC to conduct business as immigration consultants:


Step 3: Pay the Fees

Form IMM 5620Fee Payment Form: You must include this completed form as proof of your payment of the correct amount of fees. The form includes a table to enable you to calculate the total fee you must pay. There are 2 types of fees:

Processing fees which are calculated using the following table (you can find the same table in the form):

Processing Fee Number of Persons Amount Per Person Amount Due
Principal Applicant 1 CAD$1050 CAD$1050
Spouse or Common-Law Partner 1 CAD$550 CAD$550
Dependent Children under 19, Unmarried and Not in a Common-Law Relationship 3 CAD$150 CAD$450
Dependent Children 19 or Older with a Physical or Mental Condition 0 CAD$150 $0
Total $2050

In this case, as an example, we have used a family with a spouse and 3 dependent children.


Right of Permanent Residence Fees:

These fees will only apply if your application is approved and will be requested by the Visa Office at a later date in your application process. Dependent Children are exempt from this fee. It is calculated as follows:

Right of Permanent Residence Fee Number of Persons Amount Per Person Amount Due
Principal Applicant 1 CAD$490 CAD$490
Spouse or Common-Law Partner 1 CAD$490 CAD$490
Total CAD$980

In this case, we used the same family with a spouse and 3 dependent children as above.

Incorrect fee payments may delay processing of your application. If unsure, it is always best to overpay your fees, as any overpayment will be refunded shortly after your application begins to be processed.

Online payments are not accepted for this program. You may pay by:

  • Certified Cheque, Bank Draft, or Money Order in Canadian funds and payable to: Receiver General for Canada and issued no more than 30 days before send your application, OR
  • Credit Card by authorizing CIC to charge your Visa, Master Card, or American Express card in Part B of Form IMM 5620. Your Credit Card must be valid for 9 months from your submission date.

You must include a fee payment form (IMM 5620) with each application you file as a principal applicant. The same form may NOT be used for more than one principal applicant. DO NOT send cash.


Step 4: Mail the Application

Each application must be placed in a separate envelope. Do not put several applications in the same envelope. Place the completed Forms listed above and on your document checklist, as well as all supporting documentation and the Fee Payment Form in a 9” x 12” (23 cm x 30.5 cm) envelope and remember to DATE & SIGN your application. Send the application to:

Regular Mail:
Citizenship and Immigration Canada
Immigrant Investor Venture Capital Class
Centralized Intake Office
PO Box 8500
Sydney, NS
B1P 0C4


Citizenship and Immigration Canada
Immigrant Investor Venture Capital Class
Centralized Intake Office
49 Dorchester Street
Sydney, NS
B1P 5Z2

Make sure your name, address, and postal code is in the upper LHS of the envelope. And make sure you have sufficient postage and that your form is dated and signed. Small details like this can delay a well-put-together application.


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