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Canada beckons the bold and visionary with its Start-up Visa (SUV) Program, tailored for ambitious entrepreneurs ready to make their mark on the Canadian and global stage. It is a federal initiative aimed at attracting global entrepreneurs with the expertise and capacity to establish new businesses in Canada (excluding Quebec) that:
  • Demonstrate innovation
  • Have the ability to generate employment opportunities for Canadians
  • Can compete effectively on an international level
Canada is eager to attract and embrace entrepreneurs, and the Start-Up Visa (SUV) Program, being the first of its kind in the world, facilitates a connection between immigrant entrepreneurs and experienced private sector organizations that have expertise in working with start-ups. Unlike programs in other countries, Canada does not provide ‘temporary’ or ‘conditional’ status but rather grants permanent residency to successful applicants with no conditions attached to the success of their business. Thus, the SUV offers a direct pathway to permanent residency, if the business idea is supported by a Designated Organization: a business incubator, angel group or venture capital fund authorized by the federal government of Canada, and the application is subsequently approved by Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).


Canada, consistently recognized for its exceptional qualities, stands as the 2nd best country in the world, as per the 2023 Best Countries ranking by the U.S. News & World Report. In international comparisons, Canada excels across diverse metrics, including quality of life, economic freedom, education levels, gender equality, public services, public security, and environmental sustainability.

With the world's 10th largest economy as of 2023, Canada boasts a robust economic foundation. Entrepreneurs and businesses find an attractive environment with no tax on inheritance, gifts, estate, and life insurance benefits. The country further supports businesses through a range of incentives, including national, provincial, and local government grants, subsidies, interest-free loans, and tax credits.

Canada's access to strategic markets serves as a gateway to global opportunities for businesses. The country's Free Trade Agreement (FTA) network with over 50 nations provides extensive access to international markets. Approximately 75% of Canada’s trade occurs within countries that are part of free trade agreements.

In 2023, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) recognized Canada as the most attractive country for immigrant start-up founders and entrepreneurs compared to all other 24 OECD countries, including the US, France, UK, Sweden, and Australia.



  • The business must demonstrate:
    • Innovation, uniqueness, or a competitive edge in its products, services, or operations
    • Evidence of a viable and scalable market for the business's products or services
    • Potential of the business for growth and success, demonstrated through an airtight business model, proven revenue generation, and a thorough understanding of the market landscape, including competitor research and a solid marketing strategy
    • Potential of the business to create employment opportunities for Canadians
    • Qualifications, experience, and expertise of the management team and a genuine intent from all founders to move and establish their business in Canada
  • Each applicant must hold 10% or more of the voting rights attached to all shares of the start-up venture (with a maximum of 5 individuals allowed to apply as owners)
  • The applicants and their Designated Organization collectively hold more than 50% of the total voting rights attached to all shares of the start-up venture

This step requires pitching your business concept to a business group that has been approved to invest in or support possible start-ups and convincing them that your business idea is worth supporting. You need to secure an agreement from either a venture capital fund to invest a minimum of $200,000, obtain an investment commitment from one or more investors associated with angel investor groups to invest a minimum of $75,000, or get accepted into one of the recognized business incubator programs.

Achieving a minimum proficiency level of Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 5 in either English or French is required in all of these four areas: speaking, reading, listening, and writing. You must provide the results (less than 2 years old) of any of the following accepted tests:
CELPIP (Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program): minimum level 5 in speaking, reading, listening, and writing
IELTS (International English Language Testing System): minimum level 4 in reading and 5 in writing, listening, and speaking
TEF Canada: Test d’évaluation de français
TCF Canada: Test de connaissance du français

You must provide proof that you have enough money to support yourself and your family after you arrive in Canada and before you make money from your business. The amount ranges from $13,757 for one person to $36,407 for a family of seven. If your family consists of more than seven people, you need to add $3,706 for each additional family member.


Navigate Your Canadian Start-Up Visa Journey with Ease

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Given the high competition and the multitude of factors influencing the success of an SUV application, Mercan Group leverages its 34 years of experience, unparalleled expertise, and partnerships with designated organizations to ensure the success of your immigration project.

Our services encompass comprehensive business and legal support throughout the entire process:

We provide admissibility screening and coaching, guide you through the due diligence process, assist you in defining your goals, fine-tuning your business model and a compelling business proposal, obtaining approval from designated organizations, and securing the Letter of Support.

We handle the preparation and compilation of all necessary documents, submit the application to immigration authorities, act as a liaison for inquiries, provide legal advice on immigration law and program requirements, manage the overall case, and ensure a smooth application process.




Designated organizations seek innovative startup projects with established revenue models, airtight business plans, and thorough competitor research. Entrepreneurs should demonstrate a compelling reason for coming to Canada, relevant industry experience, and a comprehensive business plan outlining stages of development. Additionally, a commitment to hiring Canadians, a track record of success, and the intent of all founders to move to Canada are key factors in the evaluation process.

We collaborate with designated organizations and can assist you in selecting the one(s) that best align(s) with your project, team, and the organization's criteria. Additionally, we can help refine your business plan and presentation to meet their specific requirements.

You can apply for an optional work permit allowing you to work on launching your business while your Start-Up Visa application is being processed. The work permit is exclusive to the Start-Up Visa Program, has a one-year validity, and allows you to work solely on developing your own business.

If you obtain a work permit, your spouse and children can accompany you. Your spouse is eligible to work legally, and your children can access free school education and reduced international student fees for university, mirroring the benefits available to Canadian citizens and residents.

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