- The Start-Up Visa program in Canada saw a strong start in 2023, with 50 immigrant entrepreneurs using the program to gain permanent residence in Canada in January, the same level as January 2022.
- Ontario attracted the most immigrant entrepreneurs through the SUV in January 2023, followed by British Columbia, Alberta, and Manitoba.
- Candidates applying under the SUV program must meet various criteria, including having a qualifying business idea, obtaining a letter of support from a designated entity, meeting language requirements, and having sufficient funds to support themselves and their families.
The Start-Up Visa (SUV) program of Canada welcomed 50 immigrant entrepreneurs who used the program to gain permanent residence in Canada in January 2023. The latest data from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) revealed that Ontario attracted 20 immigrant entrepreneurs through the SUV, Manitoba welcomed five, Alberta received 10, and British Columbia 15. This article will examine the performance of the program in 2022, the impact of COVID-19 on the program, and the requirements to apply for the program.
Strong Start in 2023 for the Start-Up Visa Program
The Start-Up Visa program started the year strong with almost the same number of new permanent residents settling in Canada in January 2023 as came last year. The latest data from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) revealed 50 immigrant entrepreneurs used the SUV to gain their permanent residence in Canada in January this year, almost the same level as the 55 for the comparable month in 2022.
In January this year, Ontario attracted 20 immigrant entrepreneurs through the SUV, Manitoba welcomed five, Alberta received 10, and British Columbia 15.
The SUV’s performance was twice as strong this January as it was two years ago, in 2021, when only 20 immigrant entrepreneurs, 150 percent fewer, settled in Canada through the program during the comparable month.
Impact of COVID-19 on the Start-Up Visa Program
When the coronavirus arrived in Canada in early 2020, Ottawa quickly put in place public health and travel restrictions which resulted in immigration to the country falling 45.9 percent from 341,175 new permanent residents in 2019 to only 184,590 new permanent residents the following year. The number of new arrivals under the SUV saw a similar drop, falling from 515 new permanent residents in 2019 to only 260, barely more than half, in 2020.
Although the first case of COVID-19 in Canada was identified in late January 2020, it was not until mid-March of that year that the Canadian government imposed travel restrictions on foreign nationals coming into the county. The dramatic drop in immigration levels that year only started once the travel restrictions were in place.
Last year, 575 foreign nationals gained their permanent residence in Canada through the SUV. That was 11.6 percent, or 60 immigrant entrepreneurs, more than the 515 who started businesses and gained their permanent residence through the program in 2019, the last full year before the start of the pandemic.
In 2021, immigration roared back to life, hitting a new record at the time of 406,045 new permanent residents, and the Start-Up Visa program also rebounded – but not by quite as much. While overall immigration to Canada more than doubled, growing by 118.3 percent, the number of immigrants arriving under the Start-Up Visa in 2021 grew by a more modest 48.1 percent to 385 new permanent residents. Then, last year, the SUV program caught up with the overall immigration trend, spiking another 49.3 percent, or 190 new permanent residents, to set the new record of 575 newcomers under the program for 2022.
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Requirements for the Start-Up Visa Program
Candidates applying under the Start-Up Visa program can initially come to Canada on a work permit supported by their designated Canadian investor before their application for permanent residence is finalized. The entire process of applying for permanent residence to Canada through the SUV is currently estimated by the IRCC to take 33 months.
Under the Start-Up Visa Program, three types of private-sector investors are considered: angel investors, venture capital funds, and business incubators. A designated venture capital fund must confirm that it is investing at least $200,000 into the qualifying business. Candidates can also qualify with two or more commitments from designated venture capital funds totaling $200,000.
A designated angel investor group must invest at least $75,000 into the qualifying business. Candidates can also qualify with two or more investments from angel investor groups totaling $75,000.
A designated business incubator must accept the applicant into its business incubator program. It is up to the immigrant investor to develop a viable business plan that will meet the due diligence requirements of these government-approved designated entities.
Investing and the development of the business are usually done with the help of business consultants in Canada’s start-up ecosystem with oversight from experienced corporate business immigration lawyers who can ensure a start-up’s business concept meets IRCC requirements.
IRCC provides a range of services to start-ups through the SUV program. These include:
- Referrals to organizations that can assist with the development of a business plan and other support services.
- Facilitating communication between the immigrant entrepreneur and the designated entity.
- Guiding the application process and helping entrepreneurs access other federal and provincial/territorial programs.
- Issuing work permits to the applicant and any family members who wish to accompany them to Canada while their application for permanent residence is being processed.
- Providing additional support to entrepreneurs to ensure they settle successfully in Canada.
Applicants must meet several criteria to be eligible for the Start-Up Visa program. These include:
- Having a qualifying business idea.
- Obtaining a letter of support from a designated entity.
- Meeting the language requirements.
- Having sufficient funds to support themselves and any family members who accompany them to Canada.
- Passing security and medical clearances.
Canada’s Start-Up Visa program has had a strong start in 2023, with almost the same number of new permanent residents settling in Canada in January this year as in January 2022. The program saw a decline in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but it rebounded in 2021 and set a new record in 2022. The SUV generates much lower overall numbers of new permanent residents than other federal worker programs, but it is an important option for immigrant entrepreneurs.
The Start-Up Visa Program provides support to entrepreneurs throughout the process of applying for permanent residence and can help them access other federal and provincial/territorial programs. To be eligible for the SUV program, applicants must meet several criteria, including having a qualifying business idea and obtaining a letter of support from a designated entity.