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Canada's Start-Up Visa Program

Canada newcomers are more likely to buy or start-up businesses: StatsCan Report

A report released on March 8, 2021 by Statistics Canada reveals that immigrants, especially newly-arrived ones, are more likely than other Canadians to buy businesses or set up their own. The report, which was funded by Ottawa’s Women and Gender Equality Canada department, looked at 24 million people in Canada to determine what type of person became a business owner in 2016 and why they decided to either buy a business or start one themselves.

Recent immigrants were more likely to enter business ownership than Canadian-born individuals. This is in line with the literature, which shows that immigrants in Canada are keen on becoming business owners.

The report defines recent immigrants as individuals whose year of landing (i.e., year they entered Canada as a permanent resident) is within five years of the year of entry into business ownership.

Canada’s Start-up Visa Program

Foreign entrepreneurs who want to start businesses in Canada can apply under Canada’s Start-Up Visa Program and get Canadian permanent residence if they qualify as immigrant entrepreneurs. The Start-Up Visa Program invites eligible innovative entrepreneurs to Canada and links them with the Canadian private sector businesses, (angel investor groups, venture capital funds or business incubators) to facilitate the establishment and success of their start-up business in Canada.

Canada’s Start-up Visa Program targets immigrant entrepreneurs with the skills and potential to build businesses in Canada that:

  • are innovative
  • can create jobs for Canadians
  • can compete on a global scale

Do you have an innovative business idea? If you can get support for your idea from one of the designated organizations, you may be able to immigrate to Canada.

Related: Canada’s Start-Up Visa Program offers pathway to permanent residence for entrepreneurs

The Province of Quebec is in charge of its own business immigration program. If you plan to live in Quebec, visit Quebec’s immigration website.

Canada’s Start-Up Visa Program has significantly different selection criteria from the Express Entry skilled worker programs. Notably, successful candidates need to be endorsed by an entity that is designated by the Canadian government (an angel investor, venture capital firm, or business incubator). Such entities (designated organizations) are responsible for supporting the entrepreneur’s success once they come to Canada.

Almost every other federal and provincial business immigration programs requires a minimum of one or two years of previous experience either owning a business or in top-level management. The Start-Up Visa Program does not require previous management experience. 

Canada’s Start-Up Visa Program also represents an important option for international students, many of whom do not qualify for permanent residence through the skilled worker immigration streams.

Start-Up Visa Program candidates can initially come to Canada on a work permit supported by their designated organization, before qualifying for permanent residence once their business is up and running.