Canada's Start-Up Visa Program: Beyond The Letter Of Support

Harvey Law Group


Harvey Law Group (HLG) is a leading multinational law firm headquartered in Hong Kong with over 20 offices worldwide. Founded in 1992 by Jean-François Harvey, HLG has an extensive track record and deep sector expertise in immigration law. The HLG team provides legal and advisory services to individuals and families on immigration, residency and citizenship, as well as a comprehensive range of business services for international corporations across multiple jurisdictions in Asia, North and South America, Europe, Africa and the Middle East. HLG is a Foreign Law Firm registered with the Law Society of Hong Kong Its lawyers are qualified and registered in various jurisdictions including, Québec and Ontario Bars in Canada, England & Wales, France, Thailand, Vietnam and Grenada.
Canada's Start-Up Visa ("SUV") Program has gained significant attention and acclaim for attracting innovative entrepreneurs to establish and grow their businesses in the country.
Canada Immigration
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Canada's Start-Up Visa ("SUV") Program has gained significant attention and acclaim for attracting innovative entrepreneurs to establish and grow their businesses in the country. To be eligible for the program, an applicant must receive a Letter of Support from a designated organization, which can be a business incubator, angel investor group, or venture capital fund.

What is a Letter of Support?

The Letter of Support is a document provided by a designated organization endorsing the applicant's business idea and potential. To obtain this Letter of Support, an applicant needs to reach out to the appropriate designated organization and convince the organization that they have a business idea that is worth supporting. The purpose of this requirement under the SUV Program is to ensure that applicants have the backing of reputable and experienced entities within the Canadian startup ecosystem.

However, it is essential to understand that the Letter of Support is merely the entry ticket for admission to the program. It is by no means the only determinant of success under the SUV program. Contrary to the pervasive marketing messages out there, the Letter of Support is merely the initial stage in a much larger process. To believe that the Letter of Support alone can determine the outcome of a case is akin to assuming that buying a lottery ticket guarantees an automatic win or that giving birth is the culmination of parenting, where all that remains is to sit back and watch your child grow.

Imagine purchasing a lottery ticket with the expectation that it guarantees a jackpot. While the ticket may grant you a chance to win, it does not guarantee success. Similarly, a Letter of Support may serve as a valuable supporting document for the SUV application, but its existence alone does not guarantee a positive outcome.

This article delves into the importance of the applicant's unwavering commitment towards their start-up business, emphasizing that the Letter of Support is merely the beginning of a challenging yet rewarding journey.

Commitment Toward Your Start-Up Business

In assessing an SUV application, one of the key aspects looked at by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada ("IRCC") is the applicant's commitment toward their start-up business in Canada.

Starting a business is no easy feat. It involves overcoming countless obstacles, such as financial constraints, market uncertainties, and fierce competition. Applicants must demonstrate their willingness to put in the necessary work, whether it involves conducting market research, developing prototypes, or refining their business plans.

To succeed under the SUV program, the applicants must be actively and personally involved in developing their start-up business in Canada and be able to provide detailed documentations to show concrete business progress. The applicants are expected to obtain a work permit to work on their business in Canada, while pending the outcome of their permanent residence application. During this time, the applicants will be required to provide a detailed business progress report supported by abundant evidence and documentations about the growth and advancement of their business in Canada. Such documentations include but not limited to the certificate of incorporation, corporate bank account document, market research and analysis reports, collaboration agreements with local Canadian entities to develop and/or manufacture the product, a clear technology development roadmap with budget and timeline, etc. Above all, it is crucial to show the development progress of the actual product, including all the drafts, designs and photos of the product. Without demonstrating such a high level of commitment to developing the business personally in Canada, we cannot see how it would be possible for a candidate to be successful under the SUV program.

Collaboration and Networking

Successful entrepreneurs understand the value of collaboration and networking. Building a strong support network can provide invaluable guidance, mentorship, and opportunities for growth. Entrepreneurs seeking admission under the Start-Up Visa Program should demonstrate their commitment to building relationships within Canada's business ecosystem, fostering connections with industry experts, investors, and potential partners.


The Letter of Support is undoubtedly a significant milestone for a SUV candidate. However, it is crucial to recognize that the Letter of Support is merely the first step and does not guarantee success. The true measure of success under the SUV program lies in the entrepreneur's commitment to their start-up business and their ability to demonstrate the same to IRCC with cogent documentation.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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