Business Immigration

Business Immigration

If you wish to work in Canada as a business immigrant, you have several options, including the Federal Self-Employed Program, the Start-up Visa, and entrepreneur streams run by the Provincial Nominee Programs.


A self-employed person is a foreign national with suitable expertise who intends and is capable of being self-employed in Canada and who is going to contribute significantly to one of the following:

  • cultural activities
  • athletics

To qualify for self-employed class, the applicant must have a minimum of two years of experience in cultural activities, athletics during five years period before the date of application for a permanent resident visa and a date that determination in respect of the application is made:

1. in respect of cultural activities,

A. two one-year periods of experience in self-employment in cultural activities,
B. two one-year periods of experience in participation at a world class level in cultural activities, or
C. a combination of a one-year period of experience described in clause (A) and a one-year period of experience described in clause (B),

2. in respect of athletics,

D. two one-year periods of experience in self-employment in athletics,
E. two one-year periods of experience in participation at a world class level in athletics, or
F. a combination of a one-year period of experience described in clause (D) and a one-year period of experience described in clause (E), and

Relevant Experience

  • Those who usually apply in this category, such as music teachers, painters, illustrators, film makers, and freelance journalists, will be captured by self-employed expertise in cultural activities or athletics. Beyond that, the group is meant to include self-employed people who operate behind the scenes, such as choreographers, set designers, coaches, and trainers.
  • World-class participation in cultural activities or athletics is designed to attract top performers. This term refers to artists and athletes who participate in the arts and sports. The term “world class” refers to those who are well-known over the world. It also recognizes those who, while not well-known on a global scale, excel in their respective fields.


Intent and Ability to be Self-Employed in Canada

A self-employed applicant must demonstrate his or her purpose and aptitude to develop his or her own employment in Canada through cultural activities, athletics.

  • Financial assets might serve as a measure of person’s intent and ability to establish economically in Canada. For a self-employed person, there is no minimum investment amount. The amount of money needed is determined by the type of the job.
  • Applicants must have enough money to start a business and support themselves and their families. This includes the ability to support oneself until self-employment is established.
  • A demonstrated ability to support themselves and their family through their talents could be a good indicator of their ability to continue to do so in Canada.


Assessing Eligibility

If an officer believes an application satisfies the definition in regulation of a self-employed person, the officer will evaluate the applicant using the Self-Employed Persons Class point system. Officers will grant the applicant points based on the information and documents submitted in the application for the following five selection factors:

  • experience
  • age
  • education
  • official language proficiency
  • adaptability

To be approved as a member of the Self-Employed Persons Class, an application must receive at least 35 points out of a potential 100.
To be eligible for this category, you must have necessary experience and plan to work for yourself in one of the NOC major groups 51 or 52 occupations.


Start-up Visa Program

Immigrant entrepreneurs with the abilities and potential to create enterprises in Canada are eligible for Canada’s Start-up Visa Program.

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


Who can apply?

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

1-have a qualifying business. A qualifying business is defined as one that fits the following criteria.
  • At the time you get a commitment from a designated organization
    • each applicant holds 10% or more of the voting rights attached to all shares of the corporation outstanding at that time (up to 5 people can apply as owners, and
    • applicants and the designated organization jointly hold more than 50% of the total voting rights attached to all shares of the corporation outstanding at that time.
  • At the time you receive your permanent residence
    • you provide active and ongoing management of this business from within Canada
    • an essential part of the operations of the business happens in Canada
    • this business is incorporated in Canada.
2-get a letter of support from a designated organization

To apply for the Start-up Visa Program, your business idea or venture must get the support of one or more of the designated organizations listed below:

  • Venture capital funds
  • Angel investor groups
  • Business incubators

Designated organizations are business groups that are approved to invest in or support possible start-ups through the Start-up Visa Program.
Which business proposals are reviewed is a decision made by the organization. Each organization has its own proposal submission process and evaluation criteria. You can be requested to give a live presentation of your business proposal or submit a detailed business plan, for example.
If an organization decides to review your company idea, it will evaluate its potential and likelihood of success. If an organization chooses to support your business idea, it’ll give you a Letter of Support.

Designated organizations

Venture capital funds
You must get at least one of these groups to agree to invest a minimum of $200,000.
Angel investor groups
You must get one or more investors connected to these groups to agree to invest a minimum of $75,000.
Click here to see the list of List of designated organizations.

3-meet the language requirements

You must meet the minimum level of the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 5 in either English or French in all these four areas:

  • speaking
  • reading
  • listening
  • writing


4-bring enough money to settle

The Canadian government does not provide financial assistance to new start-up visa immigrants. You’ll need to show proof that you’ll be able to support yourself and your dependents once you arrive in Canada when you apply. You won’t be able to borrow this money from anybody else.
Work permits for Start-Up Visa applicants
Before applying for permanent residency under the Start-Up Visa (SUV) Program, you can apply for a short-term work permit through the International Mobility Program. It’s classified as a “significant benefit” exemption under the LMIA.
Please keep in mind that your Commitment Certificate is only valid for six months after it is issued. Whether you apply for a work visa or not, you must submit your permanent residency application before it expires.

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