Can you start a business while on student or holiday visa in Canada

Canada receives nearly 35 million temporary residents or non-immigrants so to say. Temporary visas could be student or holiday visas, and in a country full of opportunities, it is not uncommon to find students or other temporary residents finding an opportunity for business. The question is, can you set up a business while on a student or a working holiday visa?  

The simple answer is yes, you can, although there are a few things to consider; such as the duration of your visa, territory or province you are based, and what visa or permits you are on.

Student visa

young people looking at laptop

A study visa (or study permit) is a document that is provided by the Canadian government to international students, many of which have chosen to study in Canada because of the quality of life, more opportunities, and being able to study in an environment suitable for advancing your education.  

There are many reasons and situations that would require an international student to seek to start their own business, one of them is to be self-sufficient. 

Eligibility – In order to start a business, international students are required to:

  • Have a valid study permit or visa
  • The candidate must be at a recognized and certified learning institution at a post-secondary level or in the case of Quebec, applicants are supposed to involve in a vocational program at the secondary level. 
  • Must provide their well-detailed business plan, and source of capital.
  • Must provide assurance the business will not interfere with their school program and this should be confirmed by the education institution.

The final requirement and most important is that an international student who has a business idea and wants to start a business will need to apply for a business license with a partner who is a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident.  

Visitor’s visa

people walking in airport late evening

Canada's visitor visa, also known as a tourist visa, is for those applicants that want to enter Canada on a temporary basis. There are two kinds of visitor visas, for single entry, and another for multiple entries. Single entry is issued and is valid for a maximum of six months, it is also granted within six months from the day of application. On the other hand, multiple entry visas have a validity period of up to five years and are also processed within six months of the application being made.  

If you are in Canada on a tourist visa and wish to open a business, for example, you are a non-Canadian with an established business in Lebanon and would like to open your business in Ontario, you will have to register your business as an extra-provincial company in that province. 

You will also need what is called an Agent for service, who should be a person over the age of 18, a resident in Ontario, or who has a business or company registered and based in Ontario.

It is important to note that if you intend to operate the business in multiple provinces, you will have to register separately with each province as they may have different policies and procedures although overall business establishment procedures are all governed by the Canadian government.

All in all, Canada is one of the best countries to set up or start a business because of its sound economic policies and the government’s willingness to encourage entrepreneurship and creativity.