Strong Start In 2023 For Canada’s Start-Up Visa Program

Strong Start In 2023 For Canada’s Start-Up Visa Program
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The Start-Up Visa (SUV) 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) reveals 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.

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The SUV’s performance was twice as strong this January as it was two years ago, in 2021, when only 20 immigrant entrepreneurs, 150 per cent fewer, settled in Canada through the program during the comparable month.

Prior to last year, the previous record for the number of new permanent residents under the SUV was in January 2020 when 40 immigrant entrepreneurs gained their permanent residency through the program.

Although the first case of COVID-19 in Canada was identified in late January of 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.

This year, the number of people to gain their permanent residence in Canada through the SUV in January was 25 per cent higher than in January 2020, one of the last few months before the pandemic travel restrictions were put in place.

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.

Immigration Roared Back To Life In 2021 And Hit What Was Then A Record Level

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.

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.

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.

Immigrant Entrepreneurs Can Come To Canada On A Work Permit While Applying Under SUV

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.

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.

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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Colin Singer
Colin Singer is an international acclaimed Canadian immigration lawyer and founder of featured on Wikipedia. Colin Singer is also founding director of the Canadian Citizenship & Immigration Resource Center (CCIRC) Inc. He served as an Associate Editor of ‘Immigration Law Reporter’, the pre-eminent immigration law publication in Canada. He previously served as an executive member of the Canadian Bar Association’s Quebec and National Immigration Law Sections and is currently a member of the Canadian Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. Colin has twice appeared as an expert witness before Canada’s House of Commons Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration. He is frequently recognized as a recommended authority at national conferences sponsored by government and non-government organizations on matters affecting Canada’s immigration and human resource industries. Since 2009, Colin has been a Governor of the Quebec Bar Foundation a non-profit organization committed to the advancement of the profession, and became a lifetime member in 2018.