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Canada Business Visas

Canada offers several Business Immigration Programs for foreign nationals looking to establish a business in Canada. Some of these programs are LMIA-exempt and can lead to permanent residency.

For immediate assistance with applying for a Canadian Business Visa, call us on 0333 305 9375. You can reach us via phone, online, or in person.

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    What are Canadian Business Visas?

    The Canadian Government offers many Business Immigration Programs (both at Federal and Territorial/Provincial levels) for foreign investors, entrepreneurs, and business visitors. While some of these programs only provide temporary residency, some can lead to permanent Canadian residence.

    The main Business Immigration Programs available are:

    • Start-Up Visa Program
    • Self-Employed Persons Programs
    • Business Visitor Visa
    • Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs) for Businesses
    • Temporary Entry for Business Persons via Canada’s Free Trade Agreements (FTAs)
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    Start-Up Visa (SUV) Program


    The Start-Up Visa Program is designed to attract new businesses to Canada. The program allows entrepreneurs to move to Canada with their family members as permanent residents to start a qualifying new business.

    You’ll have to secure the support of an eligible designated entity before applying. Funds for setting up the business will come from the designated entity. However, you’ll need sufficient funds to support yourself and your family upon relocation.

    The Start-Up Visa Program provides automatic permanent residency. You’re qualified for Canadian citizenship after three years of holding a permanent residence.

    Start-Up Visa Application Process

    The visa application must be submitted online, except in exceptional circumstances. You must provide all relevant supporting documents proving that you meet the eligibility requirements. You must also provide other essential documents, such as a police clearance certificate and medical exam report.

    Applications are generally processed between 12 to 16 months. Depending on your business proposal and circumstance, you may be required to provide additional documents.

    Eligibility Requirements for Start-Up Visa Program

    To qualify for the Start-Up visa Program, you must meet the following eligibility requirements.

    1. Have a qualifying business: For your business to qualify for this visa program,
    • You must hold above 10% of the total voting rights attached to all the company shares.
    • You and the designated entity must jointly own over 50% of the total voting rights attached to all the company’s shares.
    1. Receive a commitment from a designated entity such as an angel investor, venture capital fund, or business incubator. The minimum investment amount for angel investor(s) is $75,000, while that of venture capital fund(s) is $200,000.
    2. Language proficiency: You must prove that you meet the language requirements by taking a French or English test at an approved agency. Your score must meet the level 5 minimum requirement in listening, speaking, reading, and writing.
    3. Sufficient settlement funds: you must provide proof that you can financially support yourself and your dependents when you arrive in Canada. The amounts depend on the number of dependents you’re coming with.

    Self-Employed Persons Program


    The Federal Self-Employed Persons Program is a direct route to becoming a permanent resident in Canada. The program is designed for business immigrants with relevant experience in athletics or cultural activities.

    However, you must show that you’ll be self-employed in Canada and that your work will make a significant economic contribution to Canada.

    Eligibility Criteria for Self-Employed Persons Program

    You must meet the following eligibility requirements to qualify for this program.

    1. You must have two years minimum relevant experience in athletics or cultural activities at a world-class level.
    2. Your experience must be within the last five years before you apply for this program.
    3. You must prove that you can fund your stay in Canada.
    4. You must prove that you’ll significantly contribute to Canada’s economy in athletics or cultural activities.

    You must score at least 35 points (out of 100) on the points-based selection grid to prove that you’ll contribute significantly to athletics and cultural activities. The points are obtained by meeting the following criteria.

    • Experience – 35 points maximum
    • Education – 25 points maximum
    • Language Proficiency – 24 points maximum
    • Age – 10 points maximum
    • Adaptability – 6 points

    You’ll also undergo security and criminal checks and medical examinations.

    How to Apply

    Applications for the Self-Employed Persons Program are made online. The process includes:

    1. Create an account on the IRCC permanent residence online application portal
    2. Fill out the following digital application forms
    • Generic Application Form for Canada (IMM 0008)
    • Schedule A – Background/Declaration (IMM 5669)
    • Supplementary Information – Your travels (IMM 5562)
    • Additional Family Information (IMM 5406)
    1. Complete and sign the pdf forms that apply to you.
    2. Upload signed forms and relevant supporting documents to the application portal.
    3. Pay the application fees, including the biometric fee and Right of Permanent Residence Fee (RPRF).
    4. Submit your application.

    Within a few weeks of your application, you will receive a letter scheduling an appointment at a VAC, where you’ll provide your biometric information. Processing time for the Self-Employed Visa program can take up to 22 months.

    Canadian business office

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      Business Visitor Visa


      Business visitors are foreign nationals who visit Canada for short-term (less than six months) international business purposes. The application process for a Canadian Business Visa is the same as that for a regular visitor visa or a temporary resident visa.

      Two specific programs grant entry into Canada without a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) or work permit. They are:

      • CETA Business Visitors
      • CUSMA Business Visitors

      However, depending on your circumstances, you may still need an electronic travel authorisation (eTA). You should check if you need one before travelling.

      Canada Business Visa Requirements

      To be eligible for a business visitor visa, you must provide evidence that:

      • You intend to stay in Canada for less than six months.
      • Your business and source of income are outside of Canada.
      • You do not want to join the Canadian labour market.
      • You’re participating in international business activities.
      • You’re a citizen of a participating country if you’re applying via a trade agreement.
      • You have no criminal or immigration-related convictions.

      How to Apply

      A Canada business visitor visa application cannot be made in advance; you must apply at a Canadian Port of Entry (POE). To qualify, you’ll have to provide certain documents to the border services officer. Some of these documents include:

      • Passport (should be the same as the one you used in applying for your eTA).
      • A valid travel document that guarantees re-entry to your home country.
      • Letter of invitation from your host Canadian company.
      • Other relevant documents such as contracts, warranty or sales agreements, etc.
      • Contact details of your Canadian business host.
      • Proof of sufficient funds to cover your stay in Canada and your return trip.
      • Proof that you’re coming to participate in an international business activity.
      • Evidence that you intend to stay in Canada for less than six months.
      • Evidence that your main business and income source is outside Canada.
      • Proof that you do not pose a health or security risk to Canadians.
      Toronto landmark in business district

      Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs) for Businesses

      Many Canadian provinces operate their own immigration programs for immigrant entrepreneurs. PNPs allow provinces to nominate foreign entrepreneurs to immigrate to Canada and settle in a specific province of application for business purposes. The applicant can then apply for permanent residency.

      Each province designs its PNP to suit its economic and labour market needs. The application requirements, processes, and fees vary. Quebec, for example, offers an entrepreneur visa program and a self-employed worker visa.

      Requirements for PNPs

      Although PNPs requirements vary across Canadian provinces, there are basic requirements for every PNP application. They include:

      • A comprehensive business plan.
      • At least two years of business management experience.
      • Proof of day-to-day involvement in the business management experience listed.
      • Minimum net worth – varies across provinces.
      • Age requirement (also varies).
      • Language proficiency.
      • You have a required government deposit to ensure you’ll make the amount of investment stipulated in your application. Every province requires a government deposit except Ontario and Quebec.
      • Exploratory visit requirement – some provinces will give you additional points for visiting the province to conduct business research.
      Central business district

      Temporary Entry for Business Persons via Canada’s Free Trade Agreements (FTAs)

      Canada is in several International Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with certain countries and economic zones. These FTAs grant eligible business persons temporary entry into Canada. Persons entering Canada via FTA routes generally need work permits, but an LMIA is not required.

      FTAs are available to four categories of business persons. They are:

      • Business visitors.
      • Intra-company transferees who are coming to join a Canadian branch of a foreign company.
      • Professionals and technicians.
      • Traders and Investors.

      The FTAs currently available in Canada are:

      • Canada–United States–Mexico Agreement (CUSMA).
      • Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).
      • Canada-UK Trade Continuity Agreement (Canada-UK TCA).
      • Canada-Korea FTA (CKFTA).
      • Canada-Chile FTA (CCFTA).
      • Canada-Peru FTA (CPFTA).
      • Canada-Colombia FTA (CCoFTA).
      • General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS).
      • Canada–Panama Free Trade Agreement.
      • Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

      The immigration requirements vary for each FTA, and some special codes must be used in each application process.

      How to Apply

      Depending on the specific FTA requirements, you can apply before travelling at a Visa Application Centre (VAC) or the Canadian POE upon arrival.

      Depending on the FTA program you qualify for, you can obtain a work permit valid for one year or two years. Where necessary, an immigration officer can extend a work permit at his discretion.

      Find out how we can assist with your Business Visitor Visa application. Learn More

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        Business Visa Application Fees

        The cost of applying for a Canada business visa depends on the visa program you’re applying for. Application fees for Start-Up Visas and Self-Employed Persons Programs are:

        • $1,575 CDN main application fee.
        • $825 CDN for spouse/common-law partner.
        • $225 for each dependent child.
        • $85 for biometric capturing.
        • $500 CDN Right of Permanent Residence Fee (RPRF) for applicant and spouse.
        People sitting in waiting area of corporate office

        How Can IAS Help?

        The Government of Canada offers several business immigration programs for foreign entrepreneurs and investors. However, not all Canadian business immigration routes are suitable for you.

        IAS’s team of experienced immigration lawyers can help determine the most suitable business visa for you. We will also help you gather all the documents required and ensure a smooth application process.

        We are available to help you online, via phone, or in person. Reach us at 0333 305 9375 or via the online contact form for immediate assistance.

        Call us for further assistance with your Canadian immigration matter. Contact us

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                    Frequently Asked Questions

                    Canada grants visas and permanent residency to foreign nationals who intend to start or grow a business in Canada.

                    Besides the business visa application fee, applicants for start-up visas need to secure the support of designated entities such as angel investors, venture capital funds, or business incubators. You’ll need a minimum investment of $75,000 from angel investors or $200,000 from venture capital funds to qualify for a Canada business visa.

                    There are five main types of Canadian business visas. Categories like the Provincial Nominee Programs and the Free Trade Agreements have several sub-categories.