Applications Now Open for Canada’s Startup-Visa Program

Hello Entrepreneurs of the World,

It may be April Fools Day but this is no joke. As of today, Canada is now accepting applications from the world’s brightest entrepreneurs for their new Startup Visa Program. If you are serious about pursuing your entrepreneurial dream in one of the greatest countries on earth, the time is now.  The Startup Visa Pilot Program will run for 5 Years and applications will be limited.

Canada is open for business to the world’s start-up entrepreneurs,” said Minister Kenney. Innovation and entrepreneurship are essential drivers of the Canadian economy. That is why we are actively recruiting foreign entrepreneurs – those who can build companies here in Canada that will create new jobs, spur economic growth and compete on a global scale – with our new start-up visa.

To be eligible you need to:

  1. Demonstrate Canadian Language Proficiency in Benchmark 5 in listening, speaking, reading and writing.
  2. Have at least one year of education at a post-secondary institution
  3. Pitch your business idea and secure a minimum investment commitment of $200,000 from a designated Canadian Venture Capitalist or at least $75,000 investment commitment from an approved Canadian Angel Organization. The designated investors for the Startup Visa Program were approved by the CIC with the help of the Canadian Venture Capitalist Association and the National Angel Capital Association. It’s a solid group of experienced investors in good standing including Boris Wertz of Version One Ventures and Chris Arsenault from iNovia.  You can find the complete list of approved investors here.

Now you are ready to apply:

Once you have the knowledge and a financial commitment from a designated investor, you can apply for Permanent Resident Status under the Startup Visa Program. You can check out Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s (CIC) Website for more details or contact the CIC directly.

We’ve been dreaming of writing this post since we started this initiative and we are looking forward to welcoming you to Canada.

All the best,

The Startup Visa Canada Team

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44 comments on “Applications Now Open for Canada’s Startup-Visa Program
  1. ralevcom says:

    Let’s hope that’s not another April’s joke :)
    The idea sounds cool!
    Bravo Canada!

    • Jeff B says:

      It seems that it was indeed on April’s Fool joke. After more than a year of this program being in place, I have heard that not even one single person/company has been admitted under this start up visa program. If this is how Canada is thinking of competing with the U.S., they have a long way to go…

      • maurarodgers says:

        Hardly a joke.

        The US would not open their doors to just anyone who is applying either. Canada is looking for the best entrepreneurs around the world, not just any entrepreneur who applies.

  2. Great job, guys! Finally some country gets it.

    Hey, I have an interesting case for you. We just raised $650k (this month), which wasn’t announced yet.

    The team is from a country in eastern Europe where doing a startup is rather not possible. We have thousands of paying customers, really good traction and track record.

    I am (CEO) talking to US immigration attorneys and getting a little fed up with the law there. Is there any way we can be eligible for Canadian startup visa?

    We can do a nice PR push. Canadian Startup Visa program could attract the first $650k in the first month (we don’t really care which bank we keep it in – US or Canada). And we already need to hire people (support, sales, marketing).

    • I pointed some angels and VCs to your comment. Perhaps they will have some interest in sponsoring you for a Visa. Good Luck and if all works out, I hope to welcome you to the Camadian startup scene soon!

  3. mikitaquoteroller says:

    Great job, guys! Finally some country “gets” that this is a beneficial for everyone.

    Hey, I have an interesting case for you. We just raised $650k (this month), this wasn’t announced yet.

    The team is from a country in eastern Europe where doing a startup is rather not possible. We have thousands of paying customers, really good traction and track record.

    I am (CEO) talking to US immigration attorneys and getting a little fed up with the law there. Is there any way we can be eligible for Canadian startup visa?

  4. [...] апреля Канада запустила программу стартап-виз Startup Visa Program. Пока это пилотный [...]

  5. [...] окончательный список требований к кандидатам и начала приём документов от интернет-предпринимателей по новой иммиграционной [...]

  6. Nice ! Fun ! GREAT !
    Bravo to Canada. I wonder to go there.

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  7. Mei Han says:

    I am an immigration consultant. It is not clear what other requiements if any under this program, eg. business experience or related work experience, net worth, cash ready. Please shed some light. You may reply to my email:

    • maurarodgers says:

      Hi Mei Han –

      You can find more info on the CIC website. They just released their steps to determine eligibility: Hopefully, that helps. This program is not about net worth or cash in your bank account like previous programs. It is a new program and entrepreneurs need to get investment commitment from one or more designated VCs and angels.


      • maurarodgers says:

        I should add Mei Han that the Government will still want to make sure that you can support yourself while you are building your business in Canada and you will need to provide proof. I have read that the amount of money needed will be determined by the size of your family. As an immigration consultant, you should check with the CIC directly for specifics. Unlike previous programs, you do not need deep pockets (ex. 300,000+) before you can apply. Just proof that you can sustain yourself until your business gets off the ground.

  8. Scott Jobs says:

    What is the application review time? Thanks!

    • maurarodgers says:


      I am not sure how long the application review time will take. I think that it will depend on demand and # of applications received. I will let you know once I hear more.

  9. mike says:

    what if you have to invest your own money and start business in canada?

    • maurarodgers says:

      @Mike – The program states that you need to have investment commitment from a designated VC or Angel. In a sense the investor is acting a sponsor for you because they are going to do their diligence before investing in your company. If you have your own money to invest as well, that is fine. But you still need an investor commitment for the Startup Visa Program. You can contact CIC to find out if there are other visas or programs that you would be eligible for.

  10. Stanislav says:

    I wonder if there is any equivalent of Canadian Benchmark 5? I mean something like IELTS or TOEFL?

  11. Francesco says:

    1. how to can I demonstrate Canadian Language Proficiency in Benchmark 5 in listening, speaking, reading and writing?
    2. how to submit business idea to designated investors?

    Let me know please.

  12. i guess i am not understanding how to secure the investment and how to get in touch with the potential investors

  13. maurarodgers says:

    Hi Vlad,

    You need to research the investors on the Designated list (Tab at the top of the site) and reach out to the ones who would be a good fit for investing in your company. If an investor likes your idea, company etc after you contact them, then s/he will most likely set up a meeting via the phone, skype etc to learn more.

    I will be profiling the designated investors on the site (like Boris Wertz, for example) to share more about their selection process and the best way to contact them.

    Hope that helps.

  14. sam472 says:

    maurarodgers…..Hello…..I want to contact angel investors for startup visa process…
    Can you please guide me how to contact them initially by mail….or phone call.
    Also please guide me what to send them like my profile, current business profile or some feseable buss plan for canada.
    Please do needfull….
    Thanks in advance…

    • maurarodgers says:

      Hi Sam,

      There are currently 3 Canadian Angel Organizations for you to reach out to. Information is still limited on their sites but here is what I found:

      Angel One Network has a tab on their site for Startup Visa with some details including companies they will NOT invest in. Check it out first before reaching out.
      You can email them specifically for Startup Visa Inquiries at

      First Angel Network doesn’t seem to have specific information on their site for Startup Visa Canada but you can email them at

      Golden Triangle Angelnet asks for you to submit a one pager about your company via their website:

      A couple of suggestions for you:
      First, check out each of the angel sites above and their portfolio to see if you are a company the would be interested in investing in. Then, send an introductory email with a link to your product (if available) and a one pager/executive summary on your company.

      I hope that each of the angel groups update their sites soon with more info on their Startup Visa Process.

      Until then, I hope this helps.

  15. Rajesh says:

    Hi Maura,

    I am from India and am currently developing a Web startup. I intend to come to Canada and set up my venture in Canada, preferably Vancouver. I was happy to read about this Startup visa program. However, when I contacted a few immigration lawyers, they told me that the program details are not yet finalized and there is little information about it. They asked me to contact after 3-4 weeks. Atleast 3 lawyers said the same thing, that the program has not yet taken off! So, when are they starting to receive applications?

    I will try and contact and few VCs mentioned in this site and see if anyone is interested. My app is a combination of online videos, people opinions on trending topics and social networking between the like minded.



    • maurarodgers says:

      Hi Rajesh,

      The Program is NOW accepting applications and all of the information including criteria and application package are available for download on the CIC site.

      Once you determine you are eligible for the program, which includes a letter of support and investment commitment from a designated VC, you will also need to:
      Get a Medical Exam & Background Checks
      Download and Complete the application package
      Pay the fees and submit your application

      So, start researching and reaching out the investors on the list. Be sure to include a link to your product/service and a one pager to start. I will be profiling investors in the weeks to come.

      Good luck!

      • rajesh9971 says:

        Thanks Maura for your reply. I shall update the lawyers who said there is still no clarity!

        As for the investor list, I did send mail to some of them through the common email link available on their site but I think it is difficult to get response from those emails. We will have to find out the right person in charge of the investments under the ‘Startup visa’ program. Otherwise, most mails go unanswered.



  16. sam472 says:

    Thanks maurarodgers ….Thanks a lot…..
    This is the best ever reply i found on canada forum..

  17. MarisaFWC says:

    Hi Maura,

    My name is Marisa Feil and I am a Canadian immigration lawyer based in Montreal, I run a full-service Canadian immigration law firm and the vast majority of our clients contact us online through our comprehensive website: I offer free assessments to individuals interested in retaining a lawyer. I would love to act as a resource for your viewers who are looking for assistance with their permanent residence application once they have secured financing. Please let me know how I can help!

    Warm regards,

  18. Max Donzella says:

    In order to receive credibility for Angel Investors or any other investor ,a form of Business Plan is required and the project must be presented by a competent person. As a Certified Immigration Consultants also a Management accountant , I have all the proper contacts and skills to help you secure your Intention letter from Angel Investors and Permanent Residency from CIC. I am the Director of VIP Business Immigration .

    Special thanks the start-up Visa group promoting this new Canadian Entrepreneur Program

    • karmakoder says:

      Hi Max,
      I am a technologist with 10+ years of industry exp, part of it was spent in trying to build a few startups in New York City. Am looking for like minded technologists who are in need of a co-founder. Would appreciate if you can help make some connections for any Canadian Startup visa in need of good technologist/developer/co-founder.


  19. Martin says:

    We are a two-year old startup with an existing software product and paying customers. We have never sought for investors. Rather, we have been re-investing our own profits. I wonder if we have any chance to get into Canada and have our company incorporated there if we apply.

    Couple more questions to Maura and Danny:

    First, a Letter of Intent is not a legally binding contract. Will our permanent resident status suffer because of either the investor’s or our own unwillingness to exercise the commitment? What is going to happen in this case?

    Also, the due diligence procedure is usually very thorough and lengthy. How is it supposed to be done on a startup located thousands of kilometers away in a totally different country with different laws etc? Or is the process somehow simplified?

    Sorry, if you are not the right people to ask these questions. But I’m sure many startups interested in this visa program might have the same questions.

    Looking forward to your reply.

    • maurarodgers says:

      Hi Martin,

      Congratulations on your traction so far! There could be a chance for you to come to Canada under the Startup Visa Program but you still need to get support from investors.

      1: Letter of Intent/Support:
      Under the Startup Visa Program you do need the support and commitment from one of the designated VCs or angels on the list. I understand a letter of intent is not a legally binding contract. As an entrepreneur, you will need to make sure that is in motion or locked down too. If an investor decides not to invest for some reason, your application may be affected. I find it unlikely that many investors will risk their reputation to essentially “sponsor” you and provide you with a letter of support if they are not serious about investing. Helping you immigrate to Canada is a very big deal and one that I think all designated investors on that list take very seriously.

      2. Due Diligence
      This is a question that is better answered by individual investors as it will vary based on their individual process. Almost all of the investors I have talked to so far like to receive an email first with a link to a working demo from immigrant founders. If the investor is interested, they will set up a call to learn more. If they are serious, they will start the diligence process. In some cases, there may be even be a face-to-face meeting. Bootup Labs interviewed the Summify team via Skype and did their diligence remotely before inviting them to Canada. If you get a call with a VC, be sure to ask them up front about their Startup Visa and due diligence process. I will also try to get more clarity on the process when I talk to the designated VCs.

      • Martin says:

        Hello Maura,

        Thanks for your reply!

        1. Understood.

        2. Got it. Are there any investors you would recommend in the first place? Or can we just pick some from the list of those approved by CIC?

  20. Fantastic ! New Zealand is trying to achieve a similar goal :)

    I had never actually thought about Canadian VC’s ! (hangs head in shame) and once our MVP is released (2 weeks time) we will not only be going to Silicon Valley- we will be approaching some of the investors on the list who operate in the area we are in.

    We operate in the interest graph space and research is indicating that this area is headed towards rapid and sustained growth. In fact to quote … “(Research shows) that …multiple other interest-based social networks suggest a future that is more diverse and not dominated by one player like Facebook ”. (

    Startups are quite often not geographically centric, but more aimed at a global population. There is often no reason why startup funding should be isolated to regional options.

    Our startup (Scrattch) was voted in the top 50 most promising and innovative startups worldwide in November 2012 via Global Entrepreneur Week. It is this globalization that enables us to be innovative and strive to be successful on a world stage.

    You can find out more about us here :)

  21. amna says:

    Hi Maura,

    I am interested in applying for the start-up visa. However, I was wondering how long are they taking to process the applications these days? Secondly, I wanted to apply at growlab but it seems they have stopped taking applications. Or am I wrong and they still are?

    I would really appreciate your help,


    • maurarodgers says:


      Before you can apply, you need a commitment and a letter from a designated investor. I am not sure how long Processing times are right now. I do know a few companies that are in process now that went thru the GrowLab program.

      I would encourage you to apply to GL. They are always looking for the best entrepreneurs. Their next cohort starts in February – I believe.

      • amna says:

        Thanks for the information. A few confusions though; do I have to apply before february? And when should I expect to hear from GrowLab if I do apply for their February cohort?

  22. Viv D. says:

    my dad is entrepreneur visa and we are his dependants, we have been staying here for 3 years now. can my dad and the whole family apply for citizenship already?

  23. Jolomi Jay says:

    Hello maura,

    Thanks for the your assistance so far on this issue. From your understanding of this program esp. in the area of the business incubator stream how much traction do you think would be require of the potential ‘start up’?

    As per my business IDEA I believe it’s a killer plus I’ve done extensive research on it. However, my challenge is I just have part of the skill set (webdesign) needed. The IDEA needs a team of at least three more partners (a webdesigner to join me, and two web programmers).

    Finally my question is can I design a simple website explaining my business idea under this stream and will the incubators assist me in networking with interested skilled partners upon arrival after approval from CIC.

    I guess what I really want to know is are they (the designated org.) after the ‘IDEA’ or ‘the complete product’.

    For me this is the most important aspect of the process all other requirements I can readily provide.

    Thanks in anticipation of your prompt reply

  24. Jeff B says:

    Hi. I have heard from various sources (including immigration lawyers) that not even one single person has been granted their PR under this program, even though the program has been up and running for more than a year. Do you know why this is? It seems like a huge failure on the program’s intended goal.

    • maurarodgers says:


      I know that there are PR’s in process but I am not sure of the total #’s.

      If you want to come to Canada to start and grow your business, the Startup Visa Program is an amazing program. But you have to remember, wherever you are – pitching investors and raising money and/or being selected to an approved accelerator is not easy for any entrepreneur. And it shouldn’t be!

      The Startup Visa Program is not about quantity of applicants. It’s about finding and investing in the right entrepreneurs around the world and providing them with the opportunity to startup in Canada. That is why getting the commitment of an approved investor is part of the process.

  25. gislane says:

    Gostaria de saber se para candidatar start up poderia me candidatar com franquias do Brasil

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