Posted on - Feb 15, 2013

By Catherine Sas Q.C.

Catherine Sas Q.C.

On January 24, 2013, Minister Kenney awakened the sleeping business immigrant program with the introduction of the New Start-Up Visa, the first of its kind in the world! The Start-Up Visa program seeks to connect immigrant entrepreneurs with private sector organizations who will provide the business and financial support necessary to enhance the chances of success of the new start up business venture.

Applicants will require the support of a Canadian Angel Investor Group or Venture Capital fund before they are able to apply for the start up visa. Initial active partners in the program include the Canada’s Venture Capital & Private Equity Association (CVCA) and National Angel Capital Organization (NACO). CIC is also working with the Canadian Association of Business Incubation (CABI) and hope to have their body participating in the program soon. These approved industry partners will work with CIC to recommend suitable applicants for the start up visa program. Expert peer review panels will be established to assist visa officers in assessing applications for the New Start-Up Visa.

This program is the first of its kind in the world in that it will grant immediate permanent residence for applicants selected through the start up visa program. (Many countries have business immigration programs which are generally conditional upon the applicant either making an investment or establishing a business). The government acknowledges that not all start up businesses will succeed but is counting on the partnership with private sector business organizations to enhance an applicant’s likelihood of success. This new Start-Up Visa program seeks to recruit innovative immigrant entrepreneurs who will create new jobs and spur economic growth in Canada.

In order to apply, applicants will first need the support of one of the approved industry financial organizations mentioned above who will provide the applicant with both the financial resources to back their proposed venture as well as on going business support. This new business immigrant program is the first of its kind in the world in that it will grant immediate permanent residence to Start-Up Visa applicants who are selected by the expert peer review panels.

In addition to being matched with an approved industry sector partner, applicants must also meet the following basic criteria:

  1. Language proficiency at an intermediate language benchmark of 5
  2. At least one year of post secondary education.

The program is scheduled to be in operation for April 1, 2013, and the full set of program criteria will be published prior to the coming date. For now this new Start-Up Visa kick-starts Canadian business immigration program while the Investor and Entrepreneur programs remain on “snooze”.


Catherine Sas, Q.C. is a Vancouver immigration lawyer at Sas & Ing Immigration Law Centre in Vancouver, BC Canada. Catherine has been practicing law for over 25 years, and has been voted Vancouver’s Best Immigration Lawyer by the Georgia Straight newspaper for 6 consecutive years.

To learn more about immigrating to Canada, becoming a permanent Canadian resident or bringing your family to Canada, email Catherine Sas or call her at 1-604-689-5444.

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