Challenges and Solutions: Overcoming Hurdles in the Start-up Visa Application Process

The Start-Up Visa program in Canada was launched in April 2013 and ran as a pilot for the first five years. The program received many positive reviews, and then the Canadian government gave it permanent status in 2018. Regardless of its positive reviews and success stories, the program poses many challenges for young aspirants who want to establish their start-ups in Canada and settle there.

The eligibility criteria are pretty competitive. There are four criteria: First, applicants must incorporate, actively manage, and operate all primary functions of their businesses in Canada. Second, applicants must own at least 10 per cent of the voting share. Third, the working communication must be in either English or French. Fourth, they must have enough settlement funds to support themselves and their dependents.

Embarking on a journey to get a start-up visa is tough. Still, if you explore strategies for overcoming these challenges, you can successfully cross these hurdles and achieve your dream of starting a business in Canada.

Challenge 1: Find a Designated Organization and Get a Letter of Support

The Canadian government allows the market to decide whether your business idea has the potential to succeed. You need a Letter of Support from a Canadian venture capital fund, angel investor, or business incubator on the government-specified list of designated organisations. This ensures you comply with industry standards, are not fraudulent, and mitigate the liability of foreignness.

Obtaining a Letter of Support from a designated organisation is highly competitive. This stage is the most critical component and important filter for start-up quality.


  • Create a detailed business plan that must be focused on: 
    • Innovativeness of the product or services.
    • Ask yourself how the business helps to create jobs in Canada.
    • Will your business compete on a global scale?
    • Business idea must have a strong market validation and scalable revenue.
  • You must understand the business model and values of the designated organisation to which you want to apply. Similar values might be critical in securing the Letter of Support.
  • The format of your business plan also plays an important part. Some designated organisations seek specific business plan formats. It is recommended that a mini business plan be created for ease of reference.
  • You can also hire a recognised immigration consultant to do the research and application process on your behalf.

Challenge 2: Founding Location Choice

One critical early decision for entrepreneurs is determining the location for their start-up, as it can significantly impact their success. Foreign founders may prioritise certain factors, such as immigration policy, which can affect the barriers to entry into a new country. The impact of immigration policy on founders can vary based on their immigration status in their current country. Starting a business in a new country comes with considerable challenges, including high financial and administrative costs linked to crossing borders.


  • Find the province and geographic location where large co-ethnic immigrant communities are embedded. It will mitigate some frictions, including a more relaxed immigration policy.
  • Strategically select a geographical location where you can find tangible economic benefits. In your application process, you can mention your social ties, easy-to-secure supplies, recruit employees, etc.

Challenge 3 – Navigating the Application Process

Navigating the Start-Up Visa application procedure can present challenges due to its complexity and time-consuming nature. You must be prepared for various obstacles and uncertainties throughout the process, as meticulous detail and adherence to strict rules are required.


Efficiency is key. Organisation, strict adherence to guidelines, and seeking guidance from immigration officials or legal professionals when faced with difficulties or discrepancies are crucial steps to successfully navigating the application process.

Challenge 4: New Caps in Canada’s Start-Up Visa Program

Under the revised policy, IRCC only accepts applications associated with a maximum of ten start-ups per designated organisation. Moreover, the federal government caps the total number of permanent resident applications yearly.


According to the government, the revised policy will accelerate the processing time and make the program more sustainable over the long term.

You should seek a letter of support from one of the member incubators. The government will prioritise entrepreneurs whose businesses are supported by Canada’s Tech Network incubators.


Securing a Startup Visa for Canada can be daunting for entrepreneurs looking to kick-start their ventures. It involves a series of hurdles, such as meeting the necessary criteria, navigating through the application procedure, and obtaining endorsement from designated organisations. Despite these obstacles, you can succeed and turn your entrepreneurial aspiration into reality by taking the initiative to tackle common barriers, seeking expert advice from a recognised immigration consultant, and staying determined and adaptable when faced with setbacks.