Entrepreneurs made less use of the Start-Up Visa (SUV) program in the first quarter of this year than they did for the same three months last year, a trend that is all the more striking because overall immigration to Canada is up.
In the first three months of this year, Canada welcomed 145,330 new permanent residents, 31,530 or 27.7 per cent more than the 113,800 during the comparable period last year, reveals the latest data from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).
Despite the upward trajectory of immigration to Canada, set to break another record this year, the number of new permanent residents to the country using the SUV was down by 6.25 per cent, slipping from 160 in the first quarter of 2022 to 150 this year.
After starting off with 50 new immigrant entrepreneurs through the SUV in January, the monthly number of new arrivals through the immigration program dropped to 40 in February and then crawled back up to 50 in March.
The SUV’s relatively weak performance in the first quarter of this year was primarily due to drops in new permanent residents coming to Ontario and British Columbia through the program in those three months.
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Ontario saw only 60 new permanent residents through the SUV in the first quarter, down 25 per cent from the province’s performance for the same period last year. British Columbia, likewise, saw the number of SUV arrivals fall by 15.4 per cent in the first quarter compared to the first three months of last year.
Together, those two provinces saw a drop of 30 immigrant entrepreneurs arriving through the SUV in the first quarter of this year compared to the same period last year.
The downturn in the popularity of the SUV in British Columbia and Ontario in the first quarter of the year was only partially offset by gains made in Manitoba and Alberta.
Those two Prairie provinces together managed to attract 20 more immigrant entrepreneurs through the SUV during those three months.
The number of new permanent residents through the SUV spiked 66.7 per cent in Manitoba while Alberta added another 10 immigrant entrepreneurs during that period.
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.
Under the SUV, three types of private-sector investors are considered: angel investors, venture capital funds, and business incubators.
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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 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 all industry-required terms and conditions.
The basic government-imposed candidate eligibility requirements for the SUV are: