The following is excerpted from the IRCC presentation given on Start-Up Visas.

Program Summary:

  • Overview: Launched as a five-year pilot in April 2013 to test a new approach to business immigration; became a permanent program in April 2018
  • Focus: Targets entrepreneurs with potential to build innovative businesses in Canada that create jobs and compete globally in high-growth sectors
  • Scope: Small-volume program emphasizing the quality of business ideas over quantity
  • Intended Outcome: Innovative entrepreneurs actively pursue business ventures in Canada, contributing to the innovation needs of the Canadian economy


  • Part of an effort to revamp business immigration programs in favour of smaller-scale, higher-value programs that focus on attracting innovative business people
    • Replaces the former Entrepreneur Program (a larger-volume program first launched in the 1970s/80s) that was cancelled in 2014
  • Supports the Government of Canada’s commitments to advancing:
    • innovation
    • economic growth
    • global skills attraction

How Start-Up Visa Works

  • Built on a model of partnership with the private sector


Results to Date: Relevance and Program Performance

  • The Government conducted an evaluation of the program in 2016


  • Key informants indicated that:
  • Without Start-Up Visa, Canada would lose opportunities to attract global talent
  • Start-Up Visa helps brand Canada as a country open for business
  • They could not identify an alternative approach that would better attract innovative entrepreneurs to Canada than Start-Up Visa

Program Performance:

  • The program is meeting its intended outcomes
  • Entrepreneurs are pursuing innovative business ventures in Canada (especially compared to previous Entrepreneur Program)
  • Start-Up Visa is much more cost effective than previous Entrepreneur Program, where visa officers assessed business proposals
  • Pilot cost ≈$644K on average per year (vs. ≈$5.2M under old program)
  • Applications are processed faster
  • On average, 80% of applications were processed in 5.3 months during the pilot (vs. 69-81 months under old program)

Results to Date: Program Demand

    • Not intended to be a high-volume program, but application intake has risen steadily each year as designated entities become more familiar with the program
    • As of January 1, 2018, we have received:
      • 277 permanent resident applications
      • 65 commitments for entrepreneurs who have not yet submitted a permanent resident application
    • Of these, 170 have been approved, 34 have been refused or withdrawn and the rest are in process
    • Demand is not driven by any particular region — applications have come from a wide range of countries (see Annex A)

Results to Date: Entrepreneur Profile


International Impact

  • Start-Up Visa has become a model for other countries to follow
  • Since its launch in 2013, several countries have implemented similar programs – but none offer up-front permanent residence like Canada

Current Status

  • As of April 2018, Start-Up Visa is now a permanent program
  • The permanent program is similar to the pilot but includes some new provisions to uphold program integrity and prevent immigration fraud:
    • requirement that an applicant provide active and ongoing management of the business from within Canada
    • requirement that an essential part of the business’ operations be conducted in Canada
    • provision that designated entities may not charge applicants a fee to review their business proposals
    • authority for officers to conduct inspections
  • To further enhance the program, Budget 2018 provided funding to ensure that applicants, private-sector partners and immigration officials are able to process applications electronically and more efficiently

Annex A: Selected Applicant Source Countries

An Associate of

Crease Harman LLP