Start-up Visa

Canada Start-up Visa Program (SUV) – As a Co-Founder


Canada's Start-up Visa Program (SUV) is a federal immigration program. It was first launched on Apr. 1, 2013, for a period of five years as a pilot. The SUV program became permanent in 2018 with its ongoing popularity. It is aimed at connecting immigrant entrepreneurs or Start-up Founders with experienced private sector organizations that specialize in assisting start-ups. The purpose of the program is to attract foreign entrepreneurs or Start-up Founders who have innovative businesses or ideas to contribute to Canadian economic and industry development and create employment opportunities.

Qualified applicants should be able to demonstrate that they have the skills and potential to build businesses in Canada that are innovativecan create jobs for Canadians; and can compete on a global scale.


Who Is the Start-up Visa Program Suitable For?

  • Entrepreneurs with innovative business ideas (founders); and/or
  • Experienced professionals or managers who could contribute to the proposed business ideas both intellectually and financially (co-founders)


Why Should I Consider Joining a SUV Team as Co-Founder?

  • You have a shared vision and values with the Founder and their team
  • You have the capability to take up a key role in the proposed Start-up
  • You have the complimentary skill set, knowledge, resources, or networks that can contribute to an innovative Start-up in its development and growth
  • You have entrepreneurship or proven business leadership experience
  • You are a subject matter expert who can help create a viable business or have the technical expertise and know-how to build products


What Are the Key Roles and Responsibilities of Co-Founders in a SUV Application?

  • Take up a specific role or responsibility within the company, but also contribute to the overall direction and vision of the company 
  • Work with the Founder and team from the beginning stages to outline plans and strategies to achieve the set direction and vision of the company. Key plans and strategies include market research, growth planning, capital raising, technology development, legal, accounting, and board management 
  • Get involved in the pitching/presentation to the designated organization to obtain a letter of support
  • Participate in building the business by constantly engaging in board meetings, assisting the Founder in upgrading the company's objective, strategy, financial projections, and timeline for achieving profitability


What Are the Competitive Edges?

  • No age restriction
  • No specific investment requirements
  • Intended destination can be any province other than Québec
  • Do not need to qualify and be evaluated on a point system based on age, education, language, etc.
  • No business experience and minimal educational requirement
  • Allow partnerships of up to 5 individuals with a minimum ownership of 10%.
  • May choose to get permanent residence directly or to move to Canada earlier with a work permit when processing for permanent residency
  • If the applicant decides to apply for a work permit, the spouse can apply for an open work permit while dependent children have access to a study permit
  • Dependent Children under the age of 22 years old can have their age locked in upon application submission
  • No minimum business turnover or hiring requirements
  • Unlike some of the provincial nominee programs (PNP), SUV project failure does not affect applicants’ permanent residency application 


What Are the Potential Drawbacks?

  • High competition for getting support from designated organizations 
  • Active and ongoing participation is required
  • Capital investments and a well-developed business model are often required, posing financial challenges if processing time has lengthened
  • If the founder or any one of the essential co-founder’s applications becomes refused, it very likely will affect the other members in the same project


Key Requirements

1.  Have a qualifying business, including a credible plan for the future active and ongoing management of the company from Canada.

  • Each applicant must hold at least 10% of all voting rights of the company
  • Applicants and the designated organizations jointly hold more than 50% of all shares of the company
2.  Get a letter of support from a designated organization.
These organizations include venture capital funds, angel investor groups, and business incubators. View the list of designated organizations here. 

3.  Meet minimum language requirements in either English or French, equivalent to a Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) Level Five.

You must demonstrate proficiency in English or French by taking an approved language test -  IELTS General Training, CELPIP General, PTE Core, TEF Canada, or TCF Canada. Your results must be less than 2 years old and be valid when you apply.

4.  Show enough proof of funds to settle in Canada

When you apply, you need to provide proof that you have the money to support yourself and your dependents after you arrive in Canada.

Please refer to IRCC’s website here to view most updated minimum fund requirements.


Processing Time for Permanent Residence under the Start-Up Visa Program

  • Prior to COVID-19, the processing time was normally in the range of 7 to 16 months, but it slowed down to around 30 months in 2022
  • In 2023/2024, IRCC website shows processing time of 36 - 37 months
  • IRCC announced it will speed up the processing in 2024 and for good quality projects, processing time would be less than 24 months. 


Optional Work Permit and Processing Time

For those who would like to start their business in Canada as soon as possible, applying for a work permit will be an option. You can choose to apply for a work permit and bring along your spouse and dependent children. Processing time for such work permit applications only takes a few months.


Minimum Fund Requirement for Your Family Size to Qualify for a Work Permit Application

Please refer to IRCC’s website here to view most updated minimum fund requirements.


Like any other immigration programs, it is important to realize that there is no guarantee that SUV permanent residency application will be approved. The successful rate was about 75% while more and more applicants are facing challenges when being asked about their business progress and commitment a year or much later after application submission. 


While the only passive investment business immigration program in Canada – Quebec Immigrant Investor Program (QIIP) was put on hold from Nov 2019 till Jan 2024, Canada’s Provincial Nominee Business Programs have gradually turned into granting Work Permits instead of direct Permanent Residence visas. As a result, the SUV program has become more and more popular over the past years especially for applicants who would like to move to Ontario and British Columbia and prefer a direct PR pathway.


IRCC has gained experience over the past 10 years and has been questioning those who are joining the SUV program only for the sake of getting their immigration visa. Therefore, retaining well reputable licensed immigration consultants who have extensive successful experience in the Start-up Visa program and other business immigration programs will help tremendously.


If you are interested in the Start-Up Visa Program and would like to inquire about your options for immigrating to Canada, speak to a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC) recognized by the Canadian government. Our professional team is dedicated to assisting clients on a personalized basis based on their individual needs and qualifications with suitable immigration programs towards attaining immigration to Canada.

For further enquiries, please contact us at 28683780 or email


Read More Understanding Canadian Permanent Resident (PR) Status and Citizenship | PR Card Renewal Requirements | How to Apply for Canadian Citizenship


Official links on Canada's SUV Program:
Start-up Visa Program
What happens if my business fails?




The information provided above is for general private reference purposes only and is not intended to be a comprehensive explanation of Canadian immigration laws or a substitute for professional legal advice. Rothe International Canada is not responsible for any losses caused by the use of the above information.

If you have any specific questions, you are welcome to contact Rothe International Canada directly at (852) 2868-3780 or fill in our online enquiry form.