Start-Up Visa Program: A New Option for Entrepreneurs

A New Program for Entrepreneurs to Immigrate and Start a Business in Canada.



By Marco Castro

Translated by Loretta Murphy

The Start-Up Visa Program is scheduled to begin in April of this year. It was created to replace the previous Immigrant Entrepreneur program, which ended in 2011, and which apparently was not successful. The Immigrant Entrepreneur program had many prerequisites and was not very realistic. As I have written in previous articles, it was a program that did not accept those who wanted to come, and did not interest those who would be accepted.

In the previous program, in order to be accepted, the entrepreneur had to prove, among other requirements, that they already owned a profitable business, with a large amount of money available and, moreover, they had to invest a reasonable sum in a business in Canada. In fact, innovation and entrepreneurialism were not highly valued in this program. Even the purchase of a franchise was valid.

This new option, the exact requirements of which are still unknown, is a 5 year program that appears to be based mainly on the candidate’s entrepreneurial savvy. As far as we know, entrepreneurs need only demonstrate advanced English language skills and obtain a positive assessment of his/her idea by a certain Canadian agency which will help Immigration Canada to evaluate the candidate’s proposal. We imagine that a business plan or a set of ideas will be requested with a view to be put into practice, and that plan will then be evaluated by some companies and associations. These companies and associations, in turn, would find Canadian investors once these ideas and plans prove to be viable and capable of success. These investors would give financial and logistical support to turn those ideas into reality. Once accepted, the entrepreneur would be admitted as a Canadian entrepreneurial immigrant.

Initially, Immigration Canada will partner with Canada’s Venture Capital and Private Equity Association (CVCA), whose members have almost $ 90 billion worth of capital, and the National Angel Capital Organization (NACO), which represents a class of Investors who invest approximately $ 1 billion per year in Canadian companies. Immigration is also working to include the Canadian Association of Business Incubation (CABI), which supports Canadian entrepreneurs during the initial phase of creating their companies or in their growth stages. These organizations will recommend which of its members will participate in this program and, once approved by Immigration Canada, these members will participate directly in conjunction with Immigration, in approving future immigrant entrepreneurs.

However, little is known about the conditions that may be imposed on this new entrepreneurial immigrant visa. When would the entrepreneur receive Permanent Residency? Within what time period would these ideas need to be implemented? Once implemented, but without the expected success, what would happen to the entrepreneur’s permanent visa? What is the minimum experience required of the entrepreneur? What are the minimum financial conditions required of the entrepreneur? These and other questions circulating among Canadian immigration professionals will only be answered when this new program comes to light.

In the next issue, we’ll talk about a new way to work in Canada and to immigrate to the country that was recently implemented for some professions. At the moment, 43 occupations are eligible for this program.

Marco Castro is a certified Immigration Consultant, Member of ICCRC, translator and notary public. He has an office in Vancouver, BC, Canada, and can be contacted via telephone at 604-696-6042 or e-mail [email protected]. For more information, please visit


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