Navigating the Recent Changes to Canada’s Start-Up Visa Program

Canada has become a global hub for innovation, emerging as a leader in global tech talent attraction. One of the main immigration programs that enables Canada to attract the young bright minds is the Start-up Visa Program. It’s a groundbreaking initiative introduced in 2013 by the federal government that offers a unique pathway to Canadian permanent residency for innovative entrepreneurs, including certain start-ups. The program aims to connect foreign entrepreneurs with experienced Canadian investors to fast-track the country’s economical growth.

Eligibility Requirements

The Start-up Visa Program makes Permanent Residence (PR) available to foreign nationals looking to build innovative businesses in Canada that can potentially create jobs and compete in a global scale. To be eligible for PR under this path, the business idea must gain the support of one of the designated organizations listed by the Government of Canada. To be eligible for the startup visa program, the applicants must:

·      Submit a Letter of Support from a Designated Organization, which are approved by Canada to invest in or support start-ups (examples include venture capital funds, angel investor groups and business incubators);

·      Ensure the business is considered a Qualifying Business as per Immigration regulations;

·      Demonstrate they hold sufficient funds to support themselves in Canada; and

·      Present a sufficient Language Test Score in English and/or French.

Applicants should also craft a business plan demonstrating their innovative idea, market research, revenue projections, and how the venture will contribute to Canada’s economy.

While the Permanent Residence application is under process by IRCC (Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada), applicants and their family members have the option to apply for a Canadian work permit. Given the current long processing times of SUV applications (37 months), the work permit works as the best option to help the applicants and their families arrive in Canada and start working on their business idea soon enough until their PR application is assessed and finalized.


New Changes in 2023

As part of a larger strategy to support the tech industry, Canada has announced changes to the Start Up Visa program in June of 2023. The most important measures that were recently announced are listed below:

·      Allocation of additional spots to the Start Up Visa Program under the 2023–2025 multi-year levels plan. As a result, the number of permanent residents expected in 2023 have tripled in comparison to 2022, and additional increases are planned for 2024 and 2025.

·      Possibility to apply for a 3-year open work permit for each member of the entrepreneurial team while the PR application is pending. Currently, the work permit is made valid for one year, it is specific to work for the emerging start-up and is only available to the members of the team deemed essential and urgently needed in Canada by the designated organization.

·      Priority processing for applications supported by designated organizations with committed capital or endorsed by a business incubator that is also a member of Canada’s Tech Network.

These measures have been taken based on feedback from various stakeholders in the tech industry, who have raised their concerns to IRCC about the long processing times and the need for more flexibility at the early stages of their venture in Canada. Additional strategies to improve program effectiveness are expected to be announced later this year.


Designed to attract entrepreneurs from around the world, the Start Up Visa Program took off due to its inclusive policies, supportive ecosystem, and opportunities for both immigrants and the Canadian economy. Since 2013, when it was introduced, numerous businesses have been successfully implemented in Canada under the Start-up Visa Program.

In light of the improvements that were recently introduced to the Start-up Visa Program and the ones that are expected in the coming months, we believe Canada is looking to secure their spot as one of the top destinations in the global tech space. By welcoming visionary entrepreneurs from all over the world, Canada shows their commitment to innovation, economic growth, and cultural diversity.

If you are an ambitious entrepreneur looking to launch your own innovative business and you would like to explore your options in Canada, please reach out to us and we will be happy to assist. You can also refer to our LinkedIn page to get access to online webinars or articles posted on the most recent Canadian immigration updates.

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