Immigrant entrepreneurship through Canada’s Start-Up Visa (SUV) program is skyrocketing this year and is projected to welcome a record number of foreign nationals setting up new businesses here.

In the first five months of this year, the SUV has seen 250 new permanent residents settle in Canada. 

That puts Canada on track to welcome 600 new permanent residents through the program in 2022, the highest number since the program was first launched as a five-year pilot program in 2013.

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In the five years that ended in 2019, a program which offers permanent residence to foreign nationals setting up businesses in Canada went from welcoming 55 new permanent residents in 2015 to more than nine times as many, 515, in 2019. 

That was the last full year before the Covid-19 global pandemic hit Canada. As it did, Ottawa and the provinces put in place strict public health measures, including border closures for a limited time, and immigration plummeted. 

After welcoming 341,175 new permanent residents to Canada in 2019, immigration fell by 45.9 per cent, to only 184,585 new permanent residents in 2020.

The number of foreign nationals able to come to Canada under the SUV and set up business took a similar hit that year, dropping 49.5 per cent to only 260 new permanent residents.

Last year, immigration roared back to life, largely due to the Temporary-to-Permanent Resident pathway, a one-time program designed to allow up to 90,000 foreign nationals living in Canada on temporary visas the opportunity to apply for permanent residence.

As the border re-opened and public health restrictions gradually eased, a record-breaking 406,005 new permanent residents made Canada their home.

The SUV rebounded somewhat from its low in 2020 to allow 385 foreign nationals to become new permanent residents of Canada. 

SUV On Track To Set Record In 2022

But it’s the first five months of this year that have seen the most dramatic growth in the SUV. By the end of May, the program was on track to beat its previous record high in 2019 by 16.5 per cent, if the current trend continues.  

The two provinces getting the biggest benefit from the SUV last year were British Columbia, which welcomed 200 new permanent residents under the program, and Ontario which saw 125 new permanent residents settle there under the SUV.

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In the first five months of this year, not a single foreign national went to any of the five provinces east of Ontario under the SUV. And only a few dozen settled in the remaining provinces under the 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.

Under the SUV, three types of private-sector investors are considered: angel investors, venture capital funds, and business incubators.

Foreign Nationals Need The Support Of Designated Investors Under The SUV

A designated venture capital fund must confirm that it invests 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:

  • a qualifying business;
  • a commitment certificate and letter of support from a designated entity;
  • sufficient unencumbered, available and transferable settlement funds to meet settlement funding, and;
  • proficiency in English or French at the minimum Canadian Language Benchmark level 5. However, it frequently occurs that higher levels of English are needed to meet due diligence requirements imposed by designated entities.

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