Start-Up Visa Canada: a Complete SUV Guide for 2024

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If you’re exploring business immigration options in Canada and have access to capital between CAD $200,000 and CAD $500,000, the Canada Start-Up Visa program could be the right opportunity to consider. It offers the chance to start your business in Canada, providing a pathway to live and work in Canada with your family. This guide will help you understand how to seize this opportunity and cover program eligibility, the application process, and other essential aspects of navigating the Start-Up Visa Program.

What is a Startup Visa in Canada?

The Canada Start-Up Visa Program is a business immigration program that allows foreign entrepreneurs to obtain permanent residence in Canada by starting innovative businesses. Successful applicants and their families can relocate to Canada within 3 to 6 months and obtain permanent residency within 2.5 to 3 years. The program targets entrepreneurs supported by Canadian designated organizations (incubators, angel investor groups or venture capital funds). Up to five business partners can participate in the same start-up, provided they meet certain requirements.

Start-Up Visa Canada Requirements

To be eligible for the Canada Start-up Visa Program, applicants must:

  • Obtain a Letter of Support from a Designated Organization in Canada;
  • Incorporate the business within Canada;
  • Individually hold a minimum of 10% voting rights in the company alongside a Designated Organization;
  • Collectively, the applicants and the Designated Organization must possess over 50% of voting rights;
  • Actively manage the business, with core operations in Canada during and after the application process;
  • Fulfill language proficiency at CLB 5 in English or French;
  • Have adequate settlement funds and operational capital, ideally over $200,000.

Discuss-Your-Idea-&-Book-A-Cal

Processing Time for Start-Up Visa Program

In 2024, IRCC states it takes about 37 months, or just over three years, to process a Start-Up Visa application. These estimates are based on the processing times for 80% of past applications, providing a rough idea but not an exact prediction for the duration of future application processing. The processing times can vary depending on the IRCC’s workload.

Canada Start-Up Visa Success Rate

According to the most recent statistics, the approval rate for permanent residence applications under the Start-Up Visa program is 77.2%, based on IRCC data from January 2023 to November 2023. During this period, IRCC processed 3,334 applications for permanent residence and approved 2,577 of them. There were 267 applications withdrawn and 490 that were refused. Thus, based on these figures, the SUV program has a general success rate above 77%. However, our team achieved an SUV success rate of 100% in 2023.

Start-Up Visa vs Other Business Immigration Programs

In addition to the start-up visa program, there are various business immigration programs in Canada that entrepreneurs can use to relocate to Canada. Specifically, you can explore the C11 Entrepreneur Work Permit, Intra-Company Transfer Program, Self-Employed Category, Provincial Nominee Programs, or Quebec Immigrant Investor Program. See our table below to compare these programs and understand the pros and cons of each.

CriteriaStart-Up VisaBusiness Work Permits to Permanent Residency Pathways (C11, ICT, C10)Self-Employed CategoryPNPs
Applicants Business owners or professionals with experience or specialized knowledgeBusiness owners, entrepreneurs, investors, professionalsSelf-employed professionals in cultural or artistic fields, including athletics, with unique skills.Individuals willing to start a business or invest in a particular province
Type of BusinessInnovative, scalable, can create jobs for Canadians, and are capable of competing globally. Must attract support or investment from Canadian designated organizations.Business that will contribute bring significant economic, social or cultural benefits to Canada (such as create jobs, stimulate economy or transfer knowledge or skills to Canadians)Self-employed businesses that make a significant contribution to the cultural or athletic life of Canada.New or existing business that aligns with the target province's economic development and diversification priorities and contributes to the local economy.
Partnership LimitationsUp to 5 partners can apply as owners of a single businessUsually, up to 2 partners can apply as owners of a single businessNot applicable Vary by province, but each partner must meet investment and eligibility requirements
Capital Required$10,000-$50,000 Designated Organization’s admin fees;

Business operational costs: $200,000 
Depends on business, but entrepreneurs should have access to min. $200,000Applicants should have access to min. $50,000Vary by province, but starting investment amount is $100,000 (Alberta)
Language Skills CLB 5Not required for work permit.

CLB 6 for permanent residency.
Not required, but strongly recommended CLB 5Min. CLB 4
Processing Time: Work PermitCountry specific, usually 2-6 monthsCountry specific, usually 2-6 monthsCountry specific, usually 2-6 monthsProgram specific, usually 4-6 months 
Processing Time: Permanent ResidenceAs of March 2024: 2.5-3+ years.Using Express Entry pathway after 1 year of work in Canada: 4-6 monthsAs of March 2024: 2.5-3+ yearsAs of March 2024: 18 months -3 years
Approval RateIn 2023: 72%Depends on business. In our experience between 75%-88%No available data No available data

How to Get Canada Startup Visa

Applying for a Canada Start-Up Visa involves a series of steps divided into three phases: 1) ensuring the viability of your business idea and your potential as an entrepreneur; 2) submitting an immigration application; and 3) actively working to build your start-up in Canada while your permanent residence application is processed. Once you confirm that you meet the basic eligibility criteria for the Start-Up Visa Program—which includes language proficiency and sufficient settlement funds—you can follow the steps outlined below to increase your chances of success in this program.

  • Step 1: Business Concept Development: Developing your business concept is a foundational step in turning your innovative idea into a business model with global scalability potential. It’s crucial to start with a clear vision of your start-up project, an understanding of your competitors, a strategy to compete with established players, and a detailed operational plan, including what parts of the project will be carried out in Canada. Many entrepreneurs encounter challenges in creating a robust business concept capable of attracting support from designated organizations. Our business team can assist you in brainstorming ideas, researching your target market, evaluating the competition, and defining your unique value proposition. Our in-house team is equipped to help our clients craft comprehensive business plans, outlining vision, objectives, strategies, financial projections, and the anticipated contribution to the Canadian economy. Our clients have achieved a 100% success rate in securing support from designated organizations.
  • Step 2: Select the Right Designated Organization: Choosing the right designated organization is a critical step in this process. As of 2024, there are 84 Designated Organizations—comprising angel investor groups, venture capital funds, and business incubators—authorized by the Canadian government to invest in or support potential start-ups for the Start-Up Visa Program. Each has distinct criteria and interests, so selecting one that aligns with your business idea involves researching their investment history, examining the types of start-ups they have previously supported, and assessing their mentoring capabilities. Moreover, most organizations charge administrative fees that range from $10,000 to $50,000. While some organizations do not charge fees, they may have limited intake capacities or be highly competitive. We have cultivated relationships with numerous designated organizations and can guide you in choosing the organization that best fits your project.
  • Step 3: Obtain Support from the Designated Organization: Once you have selected several designated organizations, follow the instructions on their websites to apply for the Start-Up Visa (SUV) program. The process typically involves pitching your business concept to them with a compelling presentation and demonstrating the potential of your idea. If they are convinced of your start-up’s viability, they will issue a Letter of Support, a critical document for your SUV application. If you feel intimidated by this process and need support, our team can assist you throughout the application process and can accompany you during the pitch to provide support.
  • Step 4: Prepare Your Documents: Gather all necessary documents, including the Letter of Support from a Designated Organization, proof of language proficiency at CLB 5, proof of settlement funds, business plan, and other required documents per the application guide.
  • Step 5: Submit Your SUV Immigration Application: Complete the application forms for the Start-Up Visa Program and submit them along with the required documents and the application fee. Along with your personal documents, submit a Pitch Deck that clearly communicates your business vision, Articles of Incorporation to prove legal business formation, and a Capitalization Table detailing the start-up ownership structure. Include your start-up’s logo, comprehensive customer or supplier lists, documentation of any intellectual property, and financial statements for financial transparency. Also include forward-looking financial forecasts, which are essential for assessing the potential success of your enterprise. Before submission, review your application for completeness to prevent any unnecessary delays.
  • Step 6: Start Your Business in Canada: After you’ve submitted your application for permanent residence, you can turn your attention to launching and nurturing your business in Canada according to your business plan and the commitments you’ve made to the Designated Organization. If you’re an essential member of your start-up and need to be in Canada sooner, you may apply for and obtain a work permit. This will allow you to move to Canada while the Canadian immigration authorities process your PR application.
  • Step 7: Update IRCC about Your Progress with Business: While awaiting your permanent residence status, it is crucial to keep IRCC updated on the progress of your start-up project. Updating IRCC has become increasingly important, especially after a notable decline in approval rates in early 2023 (January to April 2023), which fell to 51% from the historical average of about 75% from 2016 to 2022. IRCC officers have been known to routinely refuse SUV applications if they are not satisfied with the business progress thus far. Many rejections occur because the applicant has made minimal progress, presented a poor business model, or appeared to lack serious intent. To mitigate IRCC’s concerns, it’s advisable to proactively provide updates on your business’s progress every 6 months. This regular reporting can demonstrate your commitment to the venture and may help alleviate any potential issues regarding the seriousness of your intentions or the quality of your business model.
  • Step 8: Receive a Decision: After evaluating your application, IRCC will notify you of their decision. The communication will come via the contact details in your application, so it’s important to ensure they are current and accurate. If your application is successful, you will be granted PR status, a significant milestone on your entrepreneurial journey in Canada. Should the decision be negative, you will be given reasons and, if applicable, instructions on how to address any deficiencies or appeal the decision.

List of Designated Organizations

Depending on the type of designated organization you partner with, you will need to either complete a startup development program or receive funding from them in exchange for equity in your company to receive your letter of support. It is one of the most critical requirements of the SUV. You must obtain a Commitment Certificate and Letter of Support from one or more Venture Capital Funds, Angel Investor Groups, and/or Business Incubators. Here is a complete list of the designated organizations.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Start-Up Visa

It would be best to consider the benefits and drawbacks of this program before taking any further steps. It is crucial to fully understand what this program offers and whether it is right for you.

Advantages of the Program

Below are some of the pros of the SUV program:

  • A direct pathway for permanent residence in Canada.
  • Open to all nationalities.
  • No limitations on business activities in Canada.
  • No net worth requirement or verification.
  • Allows for a partnership of 5 individuals in the same start-up (min. 10% of ownership for each partner is required); and
  • Opportunity to relocate to Canada by obtaining a work permit while the permanent residence application is processed.

Disadvantages of the Program

Below are some of the cons of the SUV program:

  • High competition to obtain support from designated organizations in Canada; thus, it can be challenging to get such support.
  • Lengthy processing times (3+ years) to obtain permanent residence.
  • High capital investments by the founding partners are often required to secure support from a designated organization.
  • An extremely well-developed, viable and scalable business model is needed with a proven track of success and
  • There is a moderate risk of refusals at the permanent residence stage and/or delays due to peer reviews.

Start-Up Visa Canada Costs: Full Review

The costs of the Start-Up Visa program in Canada range between CAD $150,000 to $250,000+, depending on various factors.  Please refer to the sample cost structure below to understand how much money you must set aside to fund your Start-Up Visa program application. All fees below are approximate estimates in Canadian dollars, including the fees that are charged by service providers and various companies providing the SUV Program support:

Start-up Visa Canada Minimum Investment Required is 0K per Founder Infographic

  • $3,000 - $5,000 (if you have your own start-up that is innovative, scalable and generating $500K+ in revenues per year)
  • $100,000+ if your start-up does not meet the requirements above (this fee usually includes market research and validating your assumptions in the Canadian market, plus generating initial traction with customers to achieve the market-product fit that Designated Organizations would require)
  • Professional Fees (lawyers): approx. $30,000+ per applicant
The SUV application fees are as follows:
  • PR: Main Applicant – $2,140
  • PR: Spouse – $1,365
  • PR: Dependent Child – $230
  • These costs will depend on the nature of the business and industry. However, be prepared to set aside at least $100,000+ per applicant to fund the operational costs of your start-up venture while waiting for your permanent residence.

Our Experience with Startup Visas

In our experience with Start-Up Visas in Canada this past year, we’ve noted that IRCC frequently sends follow-up letters requesting additional information.

Examples of the types of questions included in these inquiries are as follows:

  • What actions have you undertaken to establish your business in Canada?
  • Could you detail the contributions from the Designated Organization up to the present?
  • Do you have a concrete plan to ensure your business’s success, and has such a plan been successful previously?
  • We require further details on your product development roadmap, the percentage of progress made, and the planned timeline and budget for completion.
  • Can you outline the advancements your business has made since its incorporation?
  • Why was Canada chosen as the location for your business, and were other countries considered?
  • Could you explain how critical parts of your business operations will be conducted in Canada?
  • Can you provide information on how you met the other founding partners?
  • Explain why your presence in Canada is urgently needed.

“These inquiries by IRCC suggest a more rigorous examination of the authenticity and intent of SUV applicants’ business activities in Canada. The agency is shifting towards a more independent assessment of the business venture’s viability and the applicants’ true intentions beyond the support evidenced by the Letter of Support. Therefore, it’s essential to demonstrate intent that aligns with the program’s objectives—to establish and grow an innovative business in Canada and to relocate permanently to oversee its development rather than using the program solely as a means for immigration.” Feruza Djamalova, Senior Business Immigration Lawyer

Start-Up Visa Application Delays and Rejections 

Sometimes, the Immigration Officer may initiate a peer review if the Officer doubts the genuineness or feasibility of the enterprise. The peer review panel will verify if the designated entity has conducted the proper checks and investigations according to industry standards.

Recently, a series of cases at the Federal Court level highlighted common issues that IRCC officers have been questioning in Start-Up Visa applications. These cases shed light on several key areas of concern for IRCC, such as:

  • applicant’s direct experience
  • substantive proof of the business’s past and projected performance
  • essential operations that are to be based in Canada
  • applicant’s engagement with the Designated Organization during the application’s waiting period,
  • overall viability of the business, including its growth orientation and the size of the target market.

Applicants are now often asked to detail their efforts in establishing their business within Canada, the nature and extent of the contributions made by the Designated Organization thus far, and to substantiate the presence of a solid, actionable business plan that is likely to lead to a prosperous outcome based on previous successes. These inquiries are designed to ensure that the Start-Up Visa program fosters genuine, growth-oriented business endeavours with a tangible presence and future in the Canadian economy.

In general, make sure that your business performance is well-documented and that there is significant evidence available to demonstrate the genuineness and viability of your undertaking. Most importantly, make sure to follow our top tips to ensure the success of your application.

How We Can Help With Your Canada’s Start-Up Visa Applications

At our firm, we approach Start-Up Visa (SUV) applications with a distinctive methodology that sets us apart from the industry standard. Our initial step is personal—we take the time to get to know you. Understanding your background, experience, budget limitations, aspirations, and business goals is crucial for us to evaluate your startup idea’s viability and potential effectively. We believe in honesty; if we find that your idea is unfeasible or too vague, we’ll tell you straight.

Once we establish the groundwork, our in-house business team collaborates closely with you to refine your idea into a viable startup project. We delve into understanding the capital and human resources required, ensuring you have a solid foundation. Unlike many in our field, we don’t outsource business plan writing. Our legal experts, trained in business, work alongside our specialized business team to craft pitch decks and business plans. This synergy ensures perfect coherence and alignment with your entire application, reflecting your experience and documentary evidence. Each element is tailor-made for you, underlining our commitment to your success both in business and immigration.

But our support doesn’t end there. We assist you in selecting the right Designated Organization, leveraging our status as intake partners for many to negotiate discounts on your behalf—passing any commission we receive directly to you. We’re there for you during the pitch interview, offering robust support as you navigate the due diligence process. With us, you’ll be well-prepared to answer questions and showcase your thoroughly researched and viable business plan.

After securing the Letter of Support, we meticulously prepare and submit your immigration application, ensuring no document is overlooked and preemptively addressing potential issues. Our dedication continues as we partner with you in Canada, staying on course with your business plan and providing regular updates to IRCC to expedite the processing your PR application.

We are more than transactional lawyers; we are your partners on this journey. We take the trust you place in us seriously when you entrust your future to our care. We believe every newcomer deserves an honest, competent, and caring immigration professional by their side. Your trust is something we value deeply and are always grateful for.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below you will find answers to the most frequently asked questions that are based on our experience with Start-Up visas:

While the Canadian Startup Visa program does not require a set investment amount, applicants should be financially prepared for significant expenses associated with launching and sustaining a business. Typically, the total cost ranges from CAD 120,000 to CAD 300,000, depending on the complexity of the business concept, family size, and various necessary expenditures, including:
  • Business concept development: CAD 20,000 - CAD 100,000
  • Designated incubator fees: CAD 25,000 - CAD 50,000
  • Legal fees: CAD 10,000 - CAD 30,000
  • Company formation fees: CAD 3,000 - CAD 5,000
  • IRCC government fees per family: CAD 3,500 - CAD 5,000
  • Operational costs over three years (includes hiring, taxes, and expenses): CAD 50,000 - CAD 150,000
These figures are estimates and vary based on the specifics of your Startup and personal circumstances.
While it is theoretically possible to secure a Startup Visa (SUV) without initial investment in Canada, the reality is that it's extremely challenging. Success in the SUV program hinges on an entrepreneur's ability to establish a business that is not only innovative but also scalable on a global level. This typically requires significant capital investment. Entrepreneurs must either possess personal funds to drive their business ventures or possess exceptional skills in securing funding. Additionally, a well-developed product with an existing customer base or substantial market traction is crucial to gaining the interest of designated investors such as angel investor groups or venture capital funds. These investors tend to favour businesses that have either secured prior capital or have a stream of revenue from customers. Thus, while the program does not explicitly mandate capital investment, the landscape of institutional investment makes it a de facto requirement, with only a handful of entrepreneurs navigating the SUV pathway without it.
The top 3 disadvantages of the SUV program, in our view, can be narrowed down to the following:
  1. Lengthy processing time for permanent residency applications. It's not uncommon for entrepreneurs to wait for about 3 years for a decision from Immigration Canada. This prolonged period of uncertainty can be a significant barrier, complicating business planning and operations due to restricted access to Canadian capital and business opportunities. While waiting for permanent resident status, start-up visa applicants often find themselves in a temporary status limbo that can affect their ability to execute their business plan fully.
  2. There's no assurance of a successful outcome. Despite the long wait, around 30% of Startup Visa applications are denied. Common reasons for refusal include questions about the business's potential for success, insufficient progress, or other errors in the application. The Federal Court has recently upheld that IRCC officers are not obligated to follow the recommendations from designated organizations that support these start-ups. They are permitted to conduct their own evaluations of the applications, which can lead to unexpected reasons for rejection, especially as IRCC gains more expertise in scrutinizing these complex applications.
  3. Financial self-reliance is another significant concern. Applicants must demonstrate they have adequate financial resources to support themselves and their families while their permanent residency is being processed. They also need to ensure they have the funds available to maintain their business and continue developing their project. This requirement becomes even more challenging because, during this waiting period, if the applicants are in Canada, they are not allowed to take on employment outside their Startup business, putting additional financial pressure on them.
While no explicit requirement prohibits you from applying without a launched product, securing from a designated organization without a minimum viable product (MVP) and some customer traction can be challenging. A critical component of the application is obtaining a Letter of Support from a designated organization. These organizations typically look for proof of your concept, which often includes a demonstration of your product and evidence of initial user engagement. In our experience, the presence of an MVP and customer validation were frequently cited as preliminary requirements by different designated organizations. To strengthen your application, I recommend finalizing your MVP and acquiring a customer base before applying. This approach not only demonstrates the real-world potential of your business idea but also signals to potential incubators and investors that your project has begun to gain market traction. Remember that designated organizations will also evaluate other aspects of your proposal, such as the uniqueness of your business idea, the quality of your pitch deck and business plan, your experience as a founder, your ability to execute the proposed project, and the availability of sufficient funds to support your business endeavour.
A work permit application under the Startup Visa program can be rejected. The top three reasons for such rejections include:
  1. Unclear Business Intent: When applying for an SUV Work Permit, you must convince the officer that there is an urgent need for your presence in Canada. Therefore, if your work purpose is unclear and not described in your application precisely, the Immigration Officer can reject your application. Also, do not forget to include your comprehensive business plan and description of all activities planned in Canada.
  2. Lack of Demonstrated Significant Benefit: Your application must be accompanied by evidence that your business activities will significantly benefit Canada. If no documentation supports this claim, the likelihood of the permit being granted is reduced.
  3. No Evidence on Dual Intent: Even if you are applying for permanent residence, you must still convince the immigration authorities that you will leave Canada if your PR application is rejected. If you fail to include evidence of your ties to your home country, it is open for an Officer to conclude that you only have a singular intent, and you may not adhere to the conditions of your temporary stay in Canada.
To avoid these pitfalls, provide ample evidence on critical areas of your Work Permit application.
As of March 2024, the IRCC estimates the processing time for a Start-Up Visa application to be about 37 months, which is just over 3 years. These estimates are based on historical data and are a general guide. Actual times may vary as they depend on the volume of applications received and how quickly they can be processed. Another way to look at it is by current application backlogs and planned processing rates. With about 8,000 applications in the queue (as of April 2023) and an annual processing goal of 5,000 in 2024, increasing to 6,000 in the following years, it would take over two years to work through the existing applications, assuming no new ones are added. Both methods indicate a processing time of around 2.5- 3 years, but these are estimates and the actual time may be different.
Yes, your Start-Up Visa (SUV) application can be rejected. According to Federal Court data from the past three years, the reasons for rejection include:
  • Lack of Progress and Accomplishments: Applicants often failed to show significant progress or achievements in developing their business venture since it started. They also struggled to prove their active involvement in the business or to give detailed information about their contributions and roles.
  • Inadequate Experience: Applicants lacked relevant experience, especially in critical areas like technology, which is vital for the proposed business.
  • Questionable Business Necessity in Canada: There were doubts about the need for the business venture to be in Canada or the applicant's dedication to operating within the Canadian market.
  • Faulty Business Model: The business model raised concerns due to its feasibility and the research behind it. This includes unclear business plans, unrealistic financial projections, or insufficient market research. Often, the issue was a lack of focus on the Canadian market, with the business primarily targeting customers outside Canada and showing little evidence of benefiting the Canadian market.
  • Absence of Seriousness: There was an overall impression of a lack of seriousness towards the business venture, shown through poor planning, inadequate preparation, and neglecting essential operational details. This lack of seriousness suggested that the main goal of the application was to gain immigration status rather than to genuinely engage in the proposed business activity.
To improve the chances of approval, applicants should ensure their business plan is thoroughly researched, clearly presented, and shows a real intention to contribute to the Canadian economy. Providing detailed evidence of progress, personal involvement, and a solid plan for operating within Canada can help address these issues.
No, there is no age limit for applying to the Start-Up Visa Program in Canada. The program focuses on the viability of the business idea, the entrepreneur's ability to meet the program's requirements, and the potential for the business to compete globally. However, it's important to note that relevant experience and skills are crucial for participation. Applying with limited experience could raise questions about your ability to contribute significantly to the SUV project. The program is designed with a preference for mature applicants who have accumulated work experience and possess the skills necessary to establish and grow a successful company in Canada. Therefore, regardless of age, demonstrating a solid background in your field and a clear vision for your business is essential.
Securing a Start-Up Visa (SUV) in Canada is a process that demands careful planning, a compelling business idea, and adherence to specific criteria. It's not necessarily about the ease of the process but about meeting the program's rigorous requirements.  A successful Start-Up Visa (SUV) application hinges on the viability of the business idea and the tangible steps taken towards establishing and advancing the business in Canada. Therefore, the applicants must be prepared to take steps to strengthen their application, including:
  • Detail Your Business Establishment Efforts: Clearly outline the actions you've taken to set up your business in Canada. This includes registering your business, securing office space, hiring staff, or any initial marketing efforts.
  • Highlight Contributions from Designated Organizations (DO): Explain the support, whether financial, mentorship, or resources, provided by the DO from the start until now. This showcases the credibility and potential of your business idea.
  • Showcase Your Business Plan's Viability: Demonstrate that you have a detailed, actionable plan for making your business successful. If you've implemented a similar plan in the past, highlight its success and how it's being adapted for the Canadian market.
  • Provide Details on App Development or Product Progress: If your business involves app development or a specific product, outline the development roadmap, including what percentage of the project is complete, along with the timeline and budget for completion. This shows commitment and progress.
  • Document Business Advancements: Discuss significant milestones or advancements your business has achieved since incorporation. This could include product launches, customer growth, or strategic partnerships.
  • Explain Your Choice of Canada: Articulate why Canada is the ideal location for your business, considering its ecosystem, market potential, or regulatory environment. If you considered other countries, explain why Canada was the preferred choice.
  • Demonstrate Operational Plans in Canada: Clarify how critical operations of your business will be conducted within Canada, emphasizing job creation, use of Canadian resources, or contributions to the Canadian economy.
In summary, while the process is structured and transparent, its complexity and the need for a viable, innovative business idea mean that success in the SUV program requires significant effort, preparation, and, sometimes, patience.
To get a letter from a Designated Organization in Canada for your Start-Up visa, expect to go through the following process:
  • Step 1: Develop a Solid Business Idea/Concept: Your first step is to have a clear, innovative, and viable business idea that has the potential to compete in the global market and create jobs in Canada.
  • Step 2: Research Designated Organizations: Look into each designated organization to understand their preferences, investment focus, and what they look for in a start-up. This information is usually available on their websites.
  • Step 3: Prepare Your Pitch: Tailor your business plan and pitch to align with the interests and goals of the designated organization you are targeting. Be ready to clearly articulate your business idea, market potential, competitive advantage, and how it benefits the Canadian economy.
  • Step 4: Contact Designated Organizations: Reach out to the designated organizations you’ve identified as a good fit for your start-up. This can often be done through their website, via email, or at pitch events specifically designed for entrepreneurs to meet potential investors.
  • Step 5: Pitch Your Business: You may be invited to present your business idea to the designated organization. This could involve meetings, presentations, and extensive discussions about your business model, team, and financial projections.
  • Step 6: Due Diligence Process: If a designated organization is interested in your proposal, they will conduct a due diligence review of your business plan, background, and proposals. This is to assess the viability and potential of your start-up.
  • Step 7: Receive a Letter of Support: If the designated organization decides to support your start-up, they will issue a letter of support. This letter is a key document you need to include in your SUV application, as it indicates that a reputable Canadian business entity endorses your venture.
Remember, each designated organization has its own criteria and process for evaluating start-ups. It’s important to be thorough in your preparation and professional in your interactions. Securing a letter of support is a competitive process, and success depends on the strength of your business idea and your ability to convince the organization of its potential.
A letter of support is a crucial document for the Startup Visa (SUV) program in Canada. It is issued by a designated organization (venture capital fund, angel investor group, or business incubator) that has agreed to support your start-up or business idea. This letter indicates that the designated organization is committed to your business project and believes in its potential for success. To obtain a letter of support, you must pitch your business idea to one or more of these designated organizations and convince them of the viability and potential of your business. If they decide to support your start-up, they will provide you with a letter of support, which you must include in your application for the Startup Visa program.
While obtaining a letter of support from a designated organization and meeting the language and financial requirements are significant steps toward applying for permanent residency (PR) under the Startup Visa program, they do not guarantee approval. The final decision on PR applications involves a comprehensive assessment, including security, criminality, and health checks. Each application is evaluated on its merits, and meeting the initial requirements does not automatically ensure approval. The IRCC conducts a thorough review to ensure that all criteria are met and that the applicant does not pose a risk to Canadian society.
The top reasons for Startup Visa (SUV) refusal often include:
  • Insufficient Documentation: Failing to provide all required documents or providing incomplete or unclear documentation.
  • Business Viability: Doubts about the business plan's viability or the business's potential to create jobs in Canada or contribute to the Canadian economy.
  • Language Proficiency: Not meeting the minimum language requirements in English or French.
  • Financial Insufficiency: Lack of sufficient funds to support the applicant and their family members during their initial time in Canada.
  • Due Diligence Concerns: Issues raised during the due diligence process by the designated organization or IRCC, including concerns about the business or the applicant's background.
If your SUV work permit was refused, you have a few options:
  • Review the Refusal Letter: Understand the reasons for refusal. The letter from IRCC will detail why your application was denied.
  • Address the Issues: If the refusal is due to missing or insufficient documentation or if there were misunderstandings about your application, gather the necessary information or clarifications needed to address these issues.
  • Reapply: Once you have addressed the reasons for refusal, you can submit a new application, ensuring to include any additional information or documentation that supports your case.
  • Legal Advice: Consider consulting with an immigration lawyer who specializes in business immigration to review your case and provide advice on the best course of action. They can help you understand the refusal reasons and guide you in strengthening your reapplication.
The Canadian Startup Visa program is specifically designed to attract innovative entrepreneurs who have the support of a designated Canadian organization (venture capital fund, angel investor group, or business incubator). The program does not have a pathway that allows for obtaining a visa solely through personal investment without the involvement of a designated organization. The key component of the SUV program is the support of these organizations, which is demonstrated through the letter of support. If you are interested in immigrating to Canada based on investment without going through the Startup Visa program, you might want to explore other business immigration streams that are more focused on personal investment, such as the Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs) that have business immigration categories.
Yes, it is feasible to secure permanent residence in Canada through investment in a startup, but there are important considerations. Canada's business immigration programs mandate active involvement in the business. Simply providing capital is not sufficient; you must actively engage in the startup’s development, applying your expertise and resources to advance the business. The criteria include contributing to Canada’s economy, generating employment, and leading an innovative venture. The sincerity of your commitment to manage and grow your business is crucial and will be scrutinized by immigration officials.
To qualify for the Startup Visa program with a conventional business like a coffee shop, you need to bring a fresh approach to the table. Think about ways to make your coffee shop stand out in terms of efficiency, customer experience, and growth potential. Consider this: innovation isn't just about new ideas; it’s about improving how things are done. Take inspiration from stories like "The Founder," which showcases how McDonald's revolutionized fast food by reimagining service speed. Apply this thinking to your business—improve the design, adopt new technologies, or create a unique product. What matters is doing things differently and better. If you’re ready to think creatively about your coffee shop, we’re here to help.
Choosing between the Start-up Visa and the C11 Work Permit depends on your business goals and how quickly you want to move to Canada. The Start-up Visa is for launching innovative businesses and is best for those who can handle high risk, including possible investment losses. If you're not in a hurry for permanent residence and have moderate language skills, this could be for you. Keep in mind, permanent residence might take around 3 years to obtain. On the other hand, the C11 Work Permit is for those starting or buying a traditional business and is generally a lower-risk option. If you're looking for a quicker path to permanent residence, usually within 18-24 months, consider this program. Both require you to actively manage your business and involve significant investment. Approval rates are similar for both programs. Interested in more details? Schedule a consultation through the link provided.
The rejection rate for the Start-Up Visa (SUV) program and common reasons for rejection can vary, but key factors include the business's viability, the innovativeness of the proposal, and the applicant's ability to carry out the business plan. Common reasons for rejection may include insufficient evidence of a scalable business model, lack of a clear competitive advantage, or inadequate support from a designated Canadian organization, such as a venture capital fund, angel investor group, or business incubator. To improve the chances of approval, applicants should focus on thoroughly demonstrating the uniqueness and market potential of their business idea, as well as their capacity for successful implementation.
If you lack business ownership experience, business immigration pathways can still be open to you, provided you can demonstrate the necessary skills, knowledge, and a viable business plan to succeed in your proposed venture. Certain programs may place a greater emphasis on the business plan and potential economic contribution rather than strictly on past business ownership experience. For example, the Start-Up Visa program might be a suitable pathway if you have an innovative business idea and can secure support from a designated Canadian organization. Engaging with mentors, industry experts, and potential partners can also help compensate for a lack of direct ownership experience.

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Immigration to Canada can be very complicated for businesses, business owners, and foreign employees. Hiring business immigration lawyers with the skill, experience, and patience is often crucial to successfully navigating this complex process. The experienced professionals at Sobirovs Law Firm offer tailored legal services in all business and corporate immigration matters. Contact us for more information on how we can help you meet your immigration needs.

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Lucia Lu
Lucia Lu
I cannot say enough good things about Sobirovs Law Firm’s exceptional team. My work permit application was quite complex and underwent numerous tests, including a rejection from the first attempt. Feruza developed a tailored strategy that contributed to the best chance of success in the resubmission, and her entire team presented my case with unparalleled expertise and genuine care. I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to Maggie, a phenomenal consultant who supported me in every step of the application, took the time to understand my unique situation and answered all my questions patiently. Her in-depth knowledge of the work permit program, proficiency in preparing my application and professional communication were reassuring and truly remarkable. Thanks to your team’s extraordinary work, I can now pursue my business goals in Canada with peace of mind. I am grateful for your hard work and the compassionate support you provided throughout this journey. You have my highest recommendation without any reservations.
Nomin Dunburee
Nomin Dunburee
I had the pleasure of collaborating with the highly skilled professionals at Sobirovs to achieve my goals. Feruza's extensive expertise was invaluable, as she guided me through the most suitable pathway for my business immigration. I am profoundly grateful for choosing Sobirovs and highly recommend their exceptional services!
Bimal Banik
Bimal Banik
I really appreciate Sovirovs professional services ,I am truly happy and satisfied with their team work .I wish them all the best
Amirov Temur
Amirov Temur
I am happy with the help I got from Sobirov Law Firm. They were always there for me : answering my questions and giving me support through the visa application process and with general immigration related questions. They made everything easier and were quick to respond whenever I needed them. I would recommend Sobirov Law Firm to anyone needing visa assistance for Canada. I trusted them, and did not regret! Thanks for all your help! I hope for further cooperation with you.
Yuri l
Yuri l
I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Ms. Feruza Djamalova, Ms. Judy Le and the entire team of Sobirovs Law Firm for their highly professional and excellent work in the complicated process of obtaining approval of our application for the business immigration program. I had several previous refusals over the course of 5 years. At that point, I contacted Sobirovs Law Firm. Their knowledge, competence, and perseverance turned my application into a success! My case was dealt by Feruza and Judy and I sincerely appreciate what an incredible job they have done and how much they have helped us. I believe they have a special gift and talent for assisting their clients. I want to particularly thank Judy for her patience and attention to detail in our case and also for thanks to her diligence, skill and attention to detail. I highly recommend Sobirovs Law Firm to anyone who wants to move to Canada using Business Immigration Programs and is looking for an immigration law firm capable of making a dream come true. They are highly professional and specialized in this field. I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks for their support.
Syed Namdaar Ali
Syed Namdaar Ali
My experience with Sobirov's was very rewarding. Starting from LMIA to Work permit it was a smooth sail. The entire team especially Yulia prepared my case painstakingly. They guided me on every little detail. Special thanks to Feroza, Farukh, Madina and the entire team for making this happen.
Bhrushank Ved
Bhrushank Ved
I had an amazing experience with the Sobirovs in applying for my C11 Work Permit. Feruza, Maggie, Judy and Yulia planned every step of the way and made the process a breeze. Benjamin was also quite knowledgeable and assisted me with the business plan for my application. I recommend Sobirovs team if you plan to expand your existing business or start a new business in Canada. Highly recommended!
Senol Ercetin
Senol Ercetin
Dear Sobirovs Team, I would like to thank you (Yulia, Faruk, Feruza, Madina) for taking care of us closely in obtaining the necessary work permits for the establishment of the Canadian branch of our company and the necessary visas for our family. You have carried out a flawless process. With sincere regards
Rakesh Shrivastava
Rakesh Shrivastava
I had a great experience working with the Sobirov Law Firm. The entire team was professional, prompt, and meticulous in their approach. We started working with them on LMIA under GTS of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. The time it took from creation of an Incorporation to submission and approval of our application was around 8 weeks. Work Permit approval took another 2 weeks. They also helped us get shared office space since it was a new experience for us. They guided us in finding a payroll service provider and a realtor to help with the relocation of the foreign employee. My sincere thanks to Feruza Djamalova and Rakhmad Sobirov (Attorneys), and Yulia Kan (Team Lead).

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