Frequently Asked Questions

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What is the IRCC's Start Up Visa Program and how does it work?

The IRCC's Start Up Visa Program is a Canadian immigration program designed to attract innovative entrepreneurs from around the world. It offers entrepreneurs the opportunity to obtain permanent residency in Canada by starting a business and creating jobs for Canadians.

To be eligible for the Start Up Visa Program, entrepreneurs must meet specific criteria:

  • Commitment from a designated organization: The applicant must secure a letter of support from a designated organization, which can be a venture capital fund, angel investor group, or business incubator/accelerator. These organizations must be approved by the Government of Canada and willing to support the entrepreneur's business venture.
  • Minimum language proficiency: Applicants must prove their proficiency in either English or French by taking a language test (IELTS, CELPIP, or TEF) and attaining the minimum required scores.
  • Sufficient settlement funds: Entrepreneurs must demonstrate that they have enough funds to support themselves and their family members in Canada. The required amount depends on the size of the family.
  • Satisfactory medical and security checks: Applicants and their family members must undergo medical examinations and provide police certificates to ensure they meet the health and security requirements for Canadian immigration.

Once the above requirements are met, the applicant can apply for a temporary work permit and upon approval, move to Canada to begin their start-up journey. Upon successful establishment of the business, meeting milestones, and creating jobs for Canadians, entrepreneurs can apply for Canadian permanent residency.

How does the IRCC's Start Up Visa Program benefit entrepreneurs?

The Start Up Visa Program offers several benefits to entrepreneurs:

  • Permanent residency: The program provides entrepreneurs with a pathway to obtain permanent residency in Canada, allowing them to live, work, and establish their businesses in one of the most economically and culturally diverse countries in the world.
  • Access to support and resources: Through the designated organizations, entrepreneurs gain access to valuable networks, mentorship, and resources that can significantly enhance the chances of their start-up's success.
  • Global market opportunities: Canada's strong economy provides entrepreneurs with access to a global market, enabling them to scale their businesses and connect with international partners and investors.
  • Quality of life: Canada is renowned for its high standard of living, excellent healthcare, quality education, and a safe and inclusive society. Entrepreneurs and their families can enjoy these benefits while pursuing their business ambitions.
Can entrepreneurs in any industry apply for the Start Up Visa Program?

Yes, entrepreneurs in any industry can apply for the Start Up Visa Program. There are no specific industry restrictions, allowing entrepreneurs from a wide range of sectors, including technology, healthcare, manufacturing, finance, and more, to establish their businesses in Canada

What criteria are considered when NBIF evaluates the potential of a start-up venture?

NBIF considers various factors when evaluating the potential of a start-up venture. These factors may include:

  • Innovation and uniqueness: The proposed business idea should demonstrate innovation, uniqueness, and the potential to contribute to the Canadian economy and society.
  • Market potential: The start-up should have a strong market potential, considering factors such as target audience, market size, competition, and growth possibilities.
  • Management team: The entrepreneur's experience, skills, and ability to effectively lead and manage the business play a crucial role in the evaluation process.
  • Job creation potential: The business plan should outline the potential for job creation in Canada, positively impacting the local economy and labor market.
  • Financial viability: The financial projections, funding sources, and overall financial viability of the start-up are assessed to ensure the business has a solid foundation for growth and sustainability.


Are there any restrictions regarding the geographical location of the proposed business?

No. Although we are based in the Niagara region, there are no restrictions regarding the geographical location of the proposed business. Entrepreneurs have the freedom to establish their start-ups in any province or territory within Canada.

Can a team of entrepreneurs apply together for the Start Up Visa Program?

Yes, a team of entrepreneurs can apply together for the Start Up Visa Program. However, each applicant must meet the individual eligibility requirements, including obtaining a letter of support from the designated organization for their specific roles within the start-up venture. The team must also demonstrate the overall benefits and potential of their collective business proposal.

What is the role of a designated organization for the IRCC's Start Up Visa Program?

Designated organizations such as the Niagara Business and Innovation Fund play a crucial role in the Start Up Visa Program by providing support and endorsement to entrepreneurs seeking Canadian permanent residency. We evaluate and select promising business proposals, provide necessary resources and mentorship, and issue letters of support to successful applicants.

Can you explain how incubators and accelerators function as designated organizations for the Start Up Visa Program?

Incubators and accelerators are designated organizations that support and nurture early-stage start-ups. We provide entrepreneurs with shared office spaces, access to a network of mentors and industry experts, educational programs, and business development support. As designated organizations, we carefully assess business proposals, mentor entrepreneurs, and offer letters of support to those with innovative and viable start-up ideas.

How does an incubator or accelerator evaluate and select start-ups for endorsement?

Each incubators and accelerator have their own evaluation criteria to select start-ups for endorsement. In NBIF’s case, criteria typically consider factors such as market potential, innovation, scalability, competitive advantage, team capabilities, and viability of the proposed business. We review the business plan and conduct interviews or pitches with the entrepreneurs to assess the start-up's potential for success.

What kind of support do incubators and accelerators offer to entrepreneurs in the Start Up Visa Program?

Incubators and accelerators offer a range of support services that can vary based on their specific programs. Generally, we provide access to workspace, mentorship, networking opportunities, educational programs, funding guidance, market research resources, and connections to potential investors and partners. They assist entrepreneurs in refining their business strategies, developing prototypes, attracting customers, and achieving their milestones for the Start Up Visa Program.

Can you provide an overview of the responsibilities of angel funds as designated organizations for the Start Up Visa Program?

NBIF is also an Angel fund and for the right opportunity, we invest our own capital in early-stage start-ups. In addition to financial investment, we also evaluate the business proposals submitted by entrepreneurs. NBIF has over thirty years of experience as Angel investors and often accesses to our network of angel investors.

How do angel funds evaluate start-up proposals for the Start Up Visa Program?

Angel funds evaluate start-up proposals based on various factors such as market potential, growth opportunities, the strength of the business model, competitive advantage, team capabilities, and the potential return on investment. We assess the entrepreneur's vision, industry knowledge, and the viability of the proposed venture. 

Can an incubator or accelerator be affiliated with an angel fund within the Start Up Visa Program?

Yes. NBIF has its own fund and we are also a member of various angel investment networks throughout Canada. We have recently established our own network, Blue Ocean Angels. NBIF’s role and experience in the Angel space can provide significant additional benefits to entrepreneurs by combining incubation or acceleration services with potential access to angel funding. This collaboration enables entrepreneurs to receive comprehensive support to develop their start-ups, secure endorsement, and potentially obtain investment for their business.

As a designated organization, what ongoing support does NBIF provide to entrepreneurs after endorsement?

After endorsement, NBIF continues to support entrepreneurs throughout their entrepreneurial journey. This can include ongoing mentorship, access to networks, business development assistance, and guidance to help the entrepreneurs successfully establish their businesses in Canada. 

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