Canada Start-Up Visa Program’s Strong Start Holds Steady

Boost In Number Of New Permanent Residents Through Canada Start-Up Visa
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A further 40 new permanent residents settled in Canada through the Start-Up Visa (SUV) program in February, as its strong start to 2023 continued.

The latest Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) data reveals the SUV has already welcomed 100 immigrant entrepreneurs this year, up 5.3 per cent from the comparable period last year. 

Last year set a new record for the SUV program.

So far this year, British Columbia and Ontario have snagged the lion’s share of these budding immigrant entrepreneurs.

British Columbia welcomed 40 new permanent residents under the SUV in the first two months of this year, 14.3 per cent more than the 35 during the comparable period last year.

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Ontario has welcomed another 30 new permanent residents through the SUV this year, down 33.3 per cent from the 45 for the first two months of last year.

Manitoba has welcomed 20 new permanent residents through that program this year and Alberta 10, although none set up in Alberta through the SUV in February. That province saw all its SUV activity in January.

Last year, 575 foreign nationals gained their permanent residence in Canada through the SUV.

That was 11.6 per cent, 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.

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 per cent 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.

In 2021, immigration roared back to life, hitting a new record at the time of 406,045 new permanent residents, and the SUV program also rebounded – but not by quite as much.

SUV Processing Time Stands At An Estimated 33 Months

While overall immigration to Canada more than doubled, growing by 118.3 per cent, the number of immigrants arriving under the SUV in 2021 grew by a more modest  48.1 per cent to 385 new permanent residents.

Then, last year, the SUV program caught up with the overall immigration trend, spiking another 49.3 per cent, or 190 new permanent residents, to set the new record of 575 newcomers under the program for 2022.

Ontario and British Columbia won the lion’s share of the economic benefits of those immigrant entrepreneurs last year with each province welcoming 260 of them through the SUV.

The only other province to see any activity through the SUV in 2022 was Manitoba which welcomed 35 immigrant entrepreneurs last year.

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In 2015, the SUV welcomed only 55 new permanent residents to Canada. By the end of last year, it had grown more than 10 times.

The SUV program generates much lower overall numbers of new permanent residents than federal worker programs, such as the Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) and Federal Skilled Trade (FST), the Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP) or the regional economic development programs including the Atlantic Immigration Program (AIP) or Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot (RNIP).

Due to these smaller numbers, the monthly fluctuations in the number of new permanent residents under the SUV can sometimes seem exaggerated when examined in percentage terms.

Candidates applying under the SUV 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.

Immigrant Entrepreneurs Using SUV Can Se Three Types Of Private-Sector Investors

Under the SUV, three types of private-sector investors are considered: angel investorsventure 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 totalling $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 totalling $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.

That investing and the development of the business is 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 all industry-required terms and conditions.

The basic government-imposed candidate eligibility requirements for the SUV are:

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