Canada’s Start-Up Visa Program attracts more South African entrepreneurs

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Innovators from South Africa have over a 90% success rate when applying to Canada’s Start-Up Visa program. Since this permanent resident program was officially launched in 2015 the government has received over 3,300 applications, however, the overall acceptance rate into the federal program has only been 38% according to Statistics Canada. However, South Africa is tops of the list based on applications accepted by country of origin, beating out China, India, Hong Kong, US, and the UK. 

Source: StatsCan

It should not be a surprise that South African entrepreneurs enjoy success with this specialised program. South Africa has a reputation for being at the forefront of STEM innovation (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), something that Canada needs more of as the country loses most of its top innovators to Silicon Valley. With Canada’s economy in rapid expansion mode, it relies heavily on immigrant entrepreneurs to bring forward cutting edge ideas. In return, immigrants are rewarded with permanent resident status through the Start-Up Visa Program. Another big advantage for South Africans is the English language requirement associated with this program. English is one of the four qualifying criteria needed to be admitted into the program. 

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Why is the Start-up Visa Program so competitive? 

As one of the most unique business visa programs offered by any industrialized country, the Start-Up Visa programs grants immediate permanent residency to business owners, and their families, who want to expand their business in Canada. There is no investment requirement or performance guarantee associated with this program. In other words, the applicant’s status in Canada is not contingent on a business venture’s success or failure. The Government of Canada is rather focused on the immigrant entrepreneur’s innovative idea that may have the potential to create Canadian jobs and can compete on a global scale. 

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What is an eligible business idea for the Start-Up Visa Program?

There is no specific industry or business type that the government is looking for. Successful applicants come from every industry, such as finance, health sciences, consumer goods, and tech. Examples of successful businesses in the past have included ones that incorporated blockchain technology, medical tracking applications, unique textile manufacturing material and even sustainable bamboo furniture making material. However, all applicants must meet the following conditions to be eligible for the program: 

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1. Minimum language requirements in French or English:

  • Meet a minimum Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) of 5 in reading, writing, speak & writing. 

2. Bring the minimum settlement fund requirements:

  • Depending on your family size, you will need to prove you have enough money to support you and your family upon arrival to Canada.
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3. Have a qualifying business:

  • Each partner in the business must hold a minimum of 10% of the new company in Canada. 

4. Receive a letter of support from a Designated Organisation:

  • The applicant must convince the Designated Organisation that their idea is worth supporting either through an investment or through acceptance into a business incubator. 


Beaver Immigration Consulting is a Regulated Canadian Immigration consultant company with offices based in Johannesburg, and Toronto. The firm has helped entrepreneurs and established businesses successfully immigrate to Canada from around the world.  

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