Canada’s Start-Up Visa (SUV) program offers lots of opportunities for foreign nationals hoping to immigrate to Canada, reveals the latest data from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).
By the end of the first 11 months of last year, the SUV program had already helped 555 foreign nationals get their permanent residence in Canada, putting the program on track to welcome a record-breaking 612 new permanent residents to the country by the end of the year.
The previous record number of 515 new permanent residents came to Canada under the SUV in 2019, the last full year before the COVID-19 pandemic.
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As the coronavirus spread across the country in 2020, immigration to Canada plunged due to border closures and international travel restrictions.
That year, the number of new permanent residents to Canada under the SUV also fell precipitously, dropping 49.5 per cent to 260.
With the relaxation of those public health measures in 2021, though, immigration roared back to life and the number of new permanent residents under the SUV rose by 125, or 48.1 per cent, to hit 385.
The SUV’s popularity with immigrant investors has grown 13.6 times, with the number of new permanent residents annually through the program rising from only 45 in 2015 to a projected 612 last year.
The SUV is a favourite with immigrant entrepreneurs because it offers both the flexibility to start a wide variety of businesses and the opportunity to gain permanent residency in Canada.
Those eligible for the SUV must:
- have a qualifying business;
- get a letter of support from a designated organization;
- meet the language requirements, and;
- bring enough money to settle.
The amount of money an applicant needs to immigrate under the SUV program depends on the number of dependents he or she has.
At the start of 2023, IRCC requirements for those funds were as follows:
|Number of||Funds required|
|family members||(in Canadian dollars)|
|For each additional family member||$3,586|
A business is considered to meet the SUV program requirements when:
- each applicant holds 10 per cent or more of the voting rights attached to all outstanding shares of the corporation at that time of receiving the commitment from a designated organization, with up to five people being allowed to apply as owners;
- and the applicants and the designated organization jointly hold more than 50 per cent of the total voting rights.
SUV Applicants Must Work With Venture Capital Funds, Angel Investor Groups Or Business Incubators
Applicants for permanent residence through the SUV must live in Canada and be active and provide ongoing management of the business at the time of getting that permanent residence.
They must also be an essential part of the operations of the business which must be incorporated in Canada.
After pitching the business plan to a designated organization, a business group approved by the federal government to invest in or support start-ups, the applicant under the SUV needs to get a letter of support from that organization.
“If you reach an agreement with a designated organization, it will send you a letter of support,” notes the IRCC on its website.
“You need to include this letter when you submit your application to us. This is the proof you need to show that the venture capital fund, angel investor group, or business incubator is supporting your business idea.”
That support can take on the following forms:
- A designated angel investor group must confirm that it is investing at least $75,000 into the qualifying business, or two or more commitments from designated angel investor groups totaling $75,000, or;
- A designated venture capital fund must confirm that it is investing at least $200,000 into the qualifying business or two or more commitments from designated venture capital funds totaling $200,000, or;
- A designated business incubator must confirm that it is accepting the applicant into its business incubator program.
At the start of 2023, the venture capital funds from which an immigrant entrepreneur could secure a minimum of $200,000 to qualify for the SUV program were:
- 7 Gate Ventures
- Apex Innovative Investments Ventures
- Arete Pacific Tech Ventures (VCC) Corp
- BCF Ventures
- BDC Venture Capital
- Celtic House Venture Partners
- Extreme Venture Partners LLP
- First Fund
- Golden Venture Partners Fund, LP
- iNovia Capital Inc.
- Intrinsic Venture Capital
- Lumira Ventures
- Invest Nova Scotia
- PRIVEQ Capital Funds
- Real Ventures
- Red Leaf Capital Corp
- Relay Ventures
- ScaleUp Venture Partners, Inc.
- Tangentia Ventures
- Top Renergy Inc.
- Vanedge Capital Limited Partnership
- Version One Ventures
- WhiteHaven Venture
- Westcap Management Ltd.
- Yaletown Venture Partners Inc.
- York Entrepreneurship Development Institute (YEDI) VC Fund
Those applicants who prefer to get a minimum investment of $75,000 can do so through these angel investor groups:
- Canadian International Angel Investors
- Ekagrata Inc.
- Golden Triangle Angel Network
- Keiretsu Forum Canada
- Oak Mason Investments Inc.
- TenX Angel Investors Inc.
- VANTEC Angel Network Inc.
- York Angel Investors Inc.
The business incubators approved by the federal government for the SUV program as of the start of 2023 were:
- Alacrity Foundation
- Alberta Agriculture and Forestry
- Agrivalue Processing Business Incubator
- Food Processing Development Centre
- Alberta IoT Association
- Biomedical Commercialization Canada Inc. (operating as Manitoba Technology Accelerator)
- Brilliant Catalyst
- Creative Destruction Lab
- DMZ Ventures
- Empowered Startups Ltd.
- Extreme Innovations
- Genesis Centre
- Highline BETA Inc.
- Invest Nova Scotia
- Innovation Cluster – Peterborough and the Kawarthas
- Innovation Factory
- Interactive Niagara Media Cluster o/a Innovate Niagara
- Invest Ottawa
- Knowledge Park o/a Planet Hatch
- LatAm Startups
- Launch Academy – Vancouver
- LaunchPad PEI Inc.
- Millworks Centre for Entrepreneurship
- NEXT Canada
- North Forge East Ltd.
- North Forge Technology Exchange
- Pacific Technology Ventures
- Platform Calgary
- Pycap Inc (o/a Pycap Venture Partners)
- Real Investment Fund III L.P. o/a FounderFuel
- Roseview Global Incubator
- Spark Commercialization and Innovation Centre
- Spring Activator
- The DMZ at Ryerson University
- Think8 Global Institute
- Toronto Business Development Centre (TBDC)
- TSRV Canada Inc. (operating as Techstars Canada)
- University of Toronto Entrepreneurship Hatchery
- Waterloo Accelerator Centre
- York Entrepreneurship Development Institute
Applicants to the SUV program must meet the minimum level of the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 5 in either English or French in all of these four areas:
- listening, and;
On its website, the IRCC estimated the processing time for SUV applications at 32 months in early 2023. That estimated processing time included the time for the applicant to provide biometrics such as fingerprints and a photo.