Immigrate to Canada
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Business Immigration Programs

Start-Up Visa

Canada’s Start-up Visa Program (SUV) is designed for entrepreneurs who want to create a business in Canada that is innovative, can create jobs for Canadians, and can compete on a global scale.

There are four requirements for the Start-up Visa Program:

  1. Have a Qualifying Business;
  2. Get a Letter of Support from a Designated Organization;
  3. Meet the Language Requirements;
  4. Bring Enough Money to Settle.

Have a Qualifying Business

A business qualifies if, at the time of receiving the support from a designated organization, you hold 10% or more of the voting rights.  You must also, together with other Start-Up Visa Program partners and the designated organization, jointly hold more than 50% of the total voting rights attached to all shares of the corporation.

At the time that you receive your permanent resident status, you must provide active and ongoing management of your business from within Canada.  This means that an essential part of the operations of the business happens within Canada and the business must be incorporated in Canada.

Get a Letter of Support from a Designated Organization

In order to apply for permanent residency, you must get a letter of support from an organization that has been designated by Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).  Designated organizations include venture capital funds, angel investor groups, and business incubators.

For you to get a letter of support from a venture capital fund, the fund must agree to invest a minimum of $200,000CAD in your business.

In order to get the support from an angel investor group, one or more of the investors connected to a group must invest a minimum of $75,000CAD in your business.

In order to get the letter of support from a business incubator, you must be accepted into their incubation program.  The process varies by organization, and each will have their own requirements to be accepted to the incubation program.

Meet the Language Requirements

The language requirement for the Start-Up Visa Program is a minimum of level 5 on the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) in either English or French.  This must be met for speaking, reading, listening and writing. The tests that are recognized by the IRCC are CELPIP and IELTS for English and TEF Canada and TCF Canada for French.


Equivalent of Canadian Language Benchmark Level 5 for recognized Language tests

Speaking Listening Reading Writing
CELPIP 5 5 5 5
IELTS 5.0 5.0 4.0 5.0
TEF Canada 225 180 150 225
TCF Canada 6 369-397 375-405 6


Bring Enough Money to Settle

When applying, you will need to prove that you have enough money to support yourself and your family when you arrive in Canada. The money cannot be borrowed or obtained illegally.  The amount of money depends on the number of people coming with you to Canada and is updated each year, but is usually under $35,000CAD.

Business PNPs (Provincial Nominee Business Programs)

Canada’s provinces and territories have their own business immigration programs that differ from the federal immigration programs. If you are looking to start your own business in Canada, or plan to purchase a business, there are many provincial nominee programs available.  These programs may help you achieve permanent residency status in Canada, and eventually citizenship.

Each program has different requirements. Some programs are open to a broad range of business people while others have specific requirements for experience in a certain field. These programs typically require that you come to Canada on a work permit to Canada and fulfill the program’s requirements. Once this is done, after a period of time working in Canada you may be nominated by the province and apply for permanent residency.

Visit each province’s immigration website to determine if a program may be the right fit for you.  Alternatively, reach out to any of our qualified immigration specialists who can help you on your path to Canadian immigration.

Quebec is not listed above as it does not have provincial nominee programs, but rather has its own immigration programs according to an agreement with the federal government.  Presently Nunavut does not have an immigrant nominee program.

Quebec Investor Program

The Québec Investor Program gives those who have a high net worth and intend to contribute to the economic development of Québec a path to immigration.  If applicants meet specific eligibility requirements, they can obtain Permanent Residency.

Unlike some other immigration programs that Canada offers, applicants are not required to establish a business within the province.  Instead they must passively invest in the province, and the investment revenue generated finances business assistance programs.  Québec is the only province to offer such a program.


The eligibility requirements of the Québec Investor Program are fairly straightforward.  Applicants must:

  • Have legally acquired net assets of at least 2 million Canadian dollars. None of that amount can be received by donation over the six months before the application is submitted.  This amount can be produced by the applicant alone, or with a spouse.
  • Have two years of management experience within the last five years before the application date. Duties must have included planning, management, and control of financial and human assets.  Any work that was done as an apprentice, or as part of experience towards a diploma, cannot be included.
  • Intend to settle in Québec.
  • Agree to invest with a broker or trust company that is authorized to participate in the Québec Investor Program. Check the  Québec Immigration website for a list of authorized financial intermediaries.  Investments are interest-free.
  • Invest 1.2 million Canadian dollars over five years with Investissement Québec – Immigrants Investisseurs Inc. Advantageous financing option is available.
  • Prior to a set deadline, applicants will require an attestation of learning about democratic and Québec values. All accompanying family, including a spouse and any dependent children over the age of 18, must also complete this attestation.

Advantages of the Québec Investor Program

The Québec Investor Program is one of the most popular paths to immigration, thanks to its unique requirements, guaranteed investment, and ease of use.

The Canadian federal government once offered a program similar to the Québec Investor Program however it now only offers an advantage to those who conduct business within Canada.  The Québec program is an excellent alternative for passive investors, and there is no requirement for the applicant to create jobs in the province.

The investment is guaranteed by the province, and at the end of the five-year term investors will be reimbursed the full amount (without interest) within 30 days.  The investment benefits entrepreneurs, and in return immigrants reap the benefits of entering a modern, diverse, and democratic province.

There is no French proficiency requirement, and participants become a Permanent Resident immediately upon entry to Canada assuming all conditions are met.  That means that applicants and their family can begin benefiting from the status immediately, from lower tuition costs and public health insurance.

How to Apply

Applicants are required to submit to a two-step process that involves selection by the province of Québec, and afterwards admission by the federal government.  Applicants must undergo a medical exam, as well as a police background check to ensure their eligibility to enter Canada.

Quebec Entrepreneur Program

For those looking to own and operate a business in Canada, the Québec Entrepreneur Program can offer a pathway to Permanent Residency, and potentially citizenship.


There are two separate streams to apply through, depending on which criteria are met.  An immigration specialist can help applicants determine which stream will provide the best chance for success.

Stream One

Stream One is intended for entrepreneurs starting new businesses with the backing of a qualifying organization.  This stream can be used whether the applicant has launched their business in Québec already, or is planning to do so.  Applicants can apply on their own, or with up to three other foreign nationals.  Applicants must:

  • Settle in Québec to create and operate the business.
  • Have the backing of a business accelerator, incubator, or university entrepreneurship centre.
  • Prior to a set deadline, applicants will require an attestation of learning about democratic and Québec values. All accompanying family, including a spouse and any dependent children over the age of 18, must also complete this attestation.

There is no list of support organizations which can back a business.  Instead, the Québec government gives general guidelines that must be met:

  • A “business accelerator” must be established in Québec and offer support services to business projects. There is a focus for them to help find financing, and help innovative companies to grow.
  • A “university entrepreneurship centre” must be managed by an accredited academic institution at the university level, and provide mentoring services to entrepreneurs. (For a list of universities, refer to the Act Respecting Educational Institutions at the University Level)
  • A “business incubator” must be established in Québec and offer mentoring services to businesses. This includes hosting, and helping with the creation of innovative companies.

All of these organizations must show in a written service offer how they will be able to support the applicant with their business venture.  A support plan, operation plan, and examples of the organization’s expertise must be included in the offer.  The organization’s capability of assisting the project will be evaluated as part of the immigration application.

Stream Two

The second stream allows you to either create a new business, or acquire one that is already established.  You could still qualify even if you have already started business activities, as long as you follow the program rules.  To qualify, applicants must:

  • Settle in Québec to create/acquire and operate the business.
  • Have legally acquired a minimum net worth of $900,000 Canadian dollars, either alone or with a spouse
  • Present the project in a form of a business plan
  • Prior to a set deadline, applicants will require an attestation of learning about democratic and Québec values. All accompanying family, including a spouse and any dependent children over the age of 18, must also complete this attestation.
  • Have a business in operation during the five years prior to the application date.

If the business is being newly created, the applicant must own and control at least 25% of the business’ equity capital.  That percentage increases to 51% if the business is being acquired.

There are certain business activities that will disqualify the applicant.  Examples of these activities are payday loans, cheque cashing, pawn broking, real estate, and sex trade work.  You also cannot acquire a business from an immigrant who has already used the Québec Entrepreneur Program.

Advantages of the Québec Entrepreneur Program

The benefits to the Québec Entrepreneur Program make it an attractive option to potential immigrants.

The program is available without many of the constraints of other immigration programs.  Applicants are not compared to other applicants as the Québec Entrepreneur Program is a “first-come, first-served” system.  Applicants may be successful at any age, and French proficiency is not a requirement, though it may help with the assessment.  There is no net equity requirement if you have the backing of a qualified organization.

As soon as the CSQ has been obtained, both the applicant and their spouse can apply for a work permit if they wish. Upon the reception of a CSQ, the permanent residency application can be submitted. The major advantage of the Québec Entrepreneur Program is that the selection is not conditional to the obtainment of a work permit and the fulfillment of certain conditions like most business provincial nominee programs. Permanent residency application is done from abroad, before coming to Canada.

How to Apply

Business owners must first apply for a Québec Selection Certificate (CSQ), which if granted can be used to apply to the federal government for Permanent Residency.

Express Entry

What is Express Entry and how does it work?

Canada accepts a large number of immigrants, and in fact over 21% of the population is foreign born.  If you are planning on living in Canada, there are four categories you can use to immigrate – family, economic, protected person (refugee), or humanitarian.

Express Entry is one of the economic pathways to immigration for those wishing to settle in Canada.  It allows both a worker and their family to gain their Permanent Residency while simultaneously filling labour shortages.  In 2020, Canada issued more than 100,000 Express Entry invitations.

The system, which manages applicants from the Federal Skilled Worker Program, the Federal Skilled Trades Program, the Canadian Experience Class, and the Provincial Nominee Program, was launched in January 2015.  It replaced the existing system of “First-Come, First-Served.”

Candidates submit a profile and self-assessment online to gain access to the Express Entry Pool. Applicants are given a score on the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) that allots points based on age, education, language proficiency in either English or French, and Canadian Work Experience.  The highest scores are given to those in the 20-29 age bracket, with strong language proficiency, and a history of working in Canada.

Every two weeks there is a draw, and a minimum cut off score is set.  The lowest score accepted in 2020 was 469 out of a possible 1200 points.  There may be as many as 5,000 Invitations to Apply (also called ITA) sent out for each draw.

Those in the Express Entry Pool are invited to apply based on how likely they are to succeed economically in Canada.  This is closely tied to how likely it is that the candidate will be able to gain steady employment after approval.

Once selected, the application is reviewed.  Criminal background checks are performed and biometrics are given prior to the application being finalized.

There are benefits to applying through the Express Entry system.  Applicants have the opportunity to continue to raise their score while they remain in the pool, and there are clear guidelines on what steps are available to improve the score.  It also has some of the fastest processing times, with most applications being processed in as little as 6 months.  You can check the processing times directly with the Canadian government.

There are detailed requirements for each program, which can be found on the Express Entry information page All applicants are processed under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA).

Federal Skilled Worker Program

The Federal Skilled Worker Program is a way to apply for Permanent Residency within the Express Entry system.  It is geared to skilled workers wanting to immigrate to Canada, who have foreign experience, and meet certain minimum requirements for skilled work experience, language ability, and education.

Just short of half, or 45%, of all Invitations to Apply (ITA) in 2019 were issued under the Federal Skilled Worker Program.  This makes it the most popular program within the Express Entry system.  Most admissions were to Ontario (6,118), and to British Columbia (5,212).

Minimum Requirements

The minimum work requirements are working in at least 1 of the Skill Type 0, Skill Level A, or Skill Level B National Occupational Classification job groups.  These range from management jobs, to professions that require degrees such as doctors and architects, to technical jobs and skilled trades such as plumbers or electricians.  Your paid work experience must be from the past 10 years, and include 1,560 total hours.  These requirements can be fulfilled by working part-time, or working as a student.

Language abilities must be shown by an approved language test, meeting the Canadian Language Benchmark score of 7 in writing, reading, listening, and speaking.

You must also provide a certificate, diploma, or degree from a Canadian high-school, or show that you have completed the equivalent in foreign education.

Application Process

If the minimum requirements are met, applicants must submit a profile to the Express Entry pool, and a score is given on a 100-point grid Note that this is a different scoring system from what is used for Express Entry.  The assessment is based on age, education, work experience, language proficiency, adaptability, and whether there is a valid job offer to employ the candidate.  To pass, you must have at least 67 points.

You must also have a proof of funds, used to show that you have enough money to settle both you and your family in Canada.

The Federal Skilled Worker Program allows potential immigrants to settle in any provinces besides Quebec.  Quebec has its own provincial skilled worker program, separate from the Federal Skilled Worker Program.

Federal Skilled Trades Program

Along with the Federal Skilled Worker Program and the Canadian Experience Class, the Federal Skilled Trades Program offers a pathway to economic immigration in Canada.  It is directed to those who are qualified in a skilled trade.  You can apply to live in any province, with the exception of Quebec.

There is a shortage of skilled trades in Canada and only 726 Express Entry applications were completed under the Federal Skilled Trades Program in 2019.  As a result, twice during 2019 the Invitation to Apply (ITA) was extended only to applicants under this program.  This resulted in a lowering of the required score to gain entry.  The lowest score to ever be given an ITA was for the Federal Skilled Trades Program, with just 199 points.

Minimum Requirements

Candidates must meet certain minimum requirements before they are eligible.

Language Proficiency

Candidates must meet a Canadian Language Benchmark 5 in speaking and listening, and Canadian Language Benchmark 4 in reading and writing to be successful.  Once you the approved language test in each of the four categories has been taken, the results must be entered in the Express Entry profile.

Work Experience

Candidates must have at least 2 years of full-time work experience within 5 years of the application.  Volunteer experience or unpaid internships do not count, and work experience only counts after you have qualified to practice the occupation.

You must also have a job offer of full-time employment for at least a year, or a certification of qualification from a Canadian provincial, territorial, or federal authority.

Job Requirements

Meeting the job requirements of the National Occupational Classification (NOC) you are applying for is also an essential requirement.  Note that you do not need a certificate of qualification.

Each NOC group has a set of essential duties that applicants must show they performed in their past experience.  They must also have performed most of the main duties listed.  Check the NOC codes, titles, and lead statements before you apply.

All of the major NOC groups for the Federal Skilled Trades Program are skill type B:

  • Major Group 72, industrial, electrical and construction trades
  • Major Group 73, maintenance and equipment operation trades
  • Major Group 82, supervisors and technical jobs in natural resources, agriculture and related production
  • Major Group 92, processing, manufacturing and utilities supervisors and central control operators
  • Minor Group 632, chefs and cooks
  • Minor Group 633, butchers and bakers


There is no minimum requirement for education; however, you can improve your rank in the Express entry pool for having completed a secondary or post-secondary institution in Canada, or the equivalent in a foreign nation.  You will require an Educational Credential Assessment for immigration purposes to prove that your education is equal to that of a Canadian school.

Application Process

If the minimum requirements are met, applicants must submit a profile to the Express Entry pool.

You must be able to prove to the Canadian government that you can support yourself and your family when you immigrate to Canada.  This can be done by proving you have the money to do so, or you are legally able to work in Canada and have a valid job offer from a Canadian employer.

You then must be assessed by the province or territory for your skill in the trade.  Each province has their own process for assessing candidates.  Research your preferred province for more information.

Canadian Experience Class

The Canadian Experience Class is the second most used stream of the Express Entry system, with 36% of applicants getting their Invitation to Apply (ITA) through this stream.

This program was developed to allow temporary foreign workers and those with qualifying Canadian work experience an opportunity to apply to stay in Canada and gain permanent residency.  It is a way to keep those who are already living and working in Canada within the country.

The Canadian Experience Class is valid for workers living outside of Quebec however Quebec has its own program available.

Minimum Requirements

Work Experience

To be eligible to apply for the Canadian Experience Class candidates must have a year of full-time (or equivalent) skilled work experience in Canada.  This can include skill level 0, skill type A, or skill type B.  You must be able to prove that you performed the duties in the lead statement of the National Occupational Classification (NOC) description.

The skilled work experience must have been completed within 3 years of the application, and the candidate must have been legally able to work in Canada.  Work experience will not count if it was obtained in a volunteer or unpaid internship position.

Language Proficiency

A minimum language proficiency must be met for writing, reading, listening, and speaking in English or French.  The minimum language level for NOC 0 or A jobs is Canadian Language Benchmark 7, while the minimum for NOC B jobs is 5.


There are a few conditions which may make you ineligible for the Canadian Experience Class, including having claimed refugee status, working without authorization, or if your work experience was gained without temporary resident status in Canada.


Similar to the Federal Skilled Trades Program stream, there is no education requirement, however candidates may benefit by improving their rank.  Applicants can get points for obtaining a certificate from a Canadian secondary or post-secondary institution, or proving that they obtained the equivalent from a foreign school.

Application Process

If the minimum requirements have been met, candidates can apply to the Canadian Experience Class by submitting a profile to the Express Entry pool.

Work, Study or Visit Canada

Work in Canada

Canada actively seeks educated immigrants, and there are many opportunities for those who are looking to work in Canada.  Those who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents require a work permit to legally work in Canada.

Types of Work Permits

There are two different types of work permits, which have their own eligibility requirements and rules that must be adhered to.

Open Work Permit

With an open work permit, you can work for almost any employer in Canada.  There are some exceptions, such as those who have failed to comply with conditions in the past, or those who are involved in the sex industry (strippers, escorts, and erotic massage).

Applicants may be eligible for an open work permit if they meet specific conditions.

Employer-Specific Work Permits

Applicants with an employer-specific work permit can only work for the one employer listed on the permit.  These permits define how long the employee can work, and the location.  Employers are required to complete certain steps before an employer-specific work permit is approved.

Requirements to Work in Canada

Before an applicant from a foreign country can work in Canada, they require a work permit.  The requirements are that all applicants must:

  • Prove to an officer that once the work permit expires they will leave Canada
  • Prove they have enough money to living expenses and return transportation for themselves and any family members included on the application
  • Obtain a police certification if required, and have no criminal record
  • Not be a danger to Canada’s security
  • Obtain a medical exam if required, and be in good health
  • Not plan to work for an employer who is ineligible due to past non-compliance
  • Not plan to work for an employer who is involved in the sex industry

There are also specific eligibility requirements depending on whether a candidate is applying from outside Canada, is already in Canada, or is applying at a port of entry.

Applying for a Work Permit – Required Documents

There is a long list of documents required when applying for a work permit, and the paperwork needed will depend on where you are applying from, and if you are applying online.  Refer to the Canadian government’s Document Checklists for more specific guidelines.

In general, applicants require a valid passport or travel documents, including identification.  They will also need proof of their current immigration status, proof of relationships with spouses or dependents, as well as proof that they meet the requirements of the job. 

For employer-specific work permits, a job offer must be included.  Employers may also be required to provide a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).

Once Your Permit is Approved

Once an application is approved, an approval letter (also called a Port of Entry Letter of Introduction), will be issued stating that the applicant can legally work in Canada.  This letter is required when applicants enter Canada.  The work permit itself will not be issued until the day that the applicant arrives in Canada.

Study in Canada

With so many top schools to choose from, it’s no wonder that Canada is ranked one of the top destinations in the world for international students.  Canada offers quality education at an affordable rate, and allows students the ability to work while they study. 

Additionally, with the temporary status offered to international students, there is a potential to apply for a work permit after graduation.  In fact, over 60% of international students report that they plan to apply for permanent residency after they finish school.

Requirements to Study in Canada

Before an applicant can study in Canada, they require a study permit.  This permit can take up to a year to obtain.  The requirements are that applicants must:

  • Be enrolled at a designated learning institution (DLI)
  • Prove they have enough money to pay tuition fees, living expenses, and return transportation for themselves and any family members included on the application
  • Obtain a police certification if required, and have no criminal record
  • Obtain a medical exam if required, and be in good health
  • Prove to an officer that once the study permit expires they will leave Canada

Note that students living in some countries, including China, Indian, and the Philippines, may be able to obtain their permit faster through the Student Direct Stream (SDS).  This stream has its own set of requirements.

Applying for a Study Permit – Required Documents

To ensure a smooth application, gather all necessary documents as early as possible.  Applicants require a valid passport or travel documents as well as proof that they can support themselves while in Canada.

Potential applicants should apply to primary or secondary schools six months in advance, or a year in advance for post-secondary programs at a university or college.  If an application to a school is approved, the student will receive an acceptance letter, which is required to apply for the study permit.

Once Your Permit is Approved

Once applicants begin studying in Canada, they have a responsibility to work towards completing their chosen program.  The conditions of the study permit must be met otherwise the student must stop studying.  Students must also leave Canada once the permit expires.

If at the end of the study period a student would like to stay in Canada, they can apply for a work permit.

Visit Canada

Canada has plenty to offer foreign visitors, from awe-inspiring landscapes to some of the greatest international events and festivals in the world.  In fact, over 22 million travellers visited Canada in 2019.  For those looking to extend their stay in Canada, a temporary status exists to allow travellers to visit for longer periods of time.

What is Electronic Travel Authorization

For those who are visa-exempt, an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) is required for entry by air into Canada.  The authorization is electronically linked to the foreign national’s passport, and is valid for up to five years.  Travellers with a valid eTA can travel to Canada for stays up to six months at a time.

Applying for an eTA is simple, and can be done online.  If you are not eligible for an eTA, you must obtain a visitor visa.

What is a Visitor Visa?

The visitor visa is also called a tourist visa, and it is generally valid for up to 6 months but can be extended for up to 10 years.  The immigration officer will indicate on the passport what date the applicant must leave Canada by.  These visas may be good for single entry, or multiple entries over a period of time.

Visitor visas are granted for tourism, study, work, or for temporary residents.  Using a visitor visa means travellers can visit Canada on vacation, visit family, and conduct business. 

Super Visa

Parents and grandparents of permanent residents can be granted what’s known as a super visa, which allows multiple entries of two years at a time, for a period of up to 10 years.

Eligibility for Visitor Visa

Visitors who are requesting to extend their stay in Canada must:

  • Provide travel documents
  • Be in good health
  • Have no criminal record, or history of immigration related offenses
  • Convince an immigration officer that they do not intend to stay in Canada, and that they have ties to their home country
  • Prove they have enough money for their stay to support themselves for the duration of their stay

Immigration officers may also request a medical exam and a letter of invitation from someone who the applicant knows, who already lives in Canada.