The Start-Up Visa (SUV) immigration program welcomed a record number of new permanent residents to Canada in 2022.
Last year, 555 foreign nationals gained their permanent residence in Canada through the SUV.
That’s 16.8 per cent, or 80 immigrant entrepreneurs, more than the 475 who started businesses and gained their permanent residence through the program in 2019, the last full year before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
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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 being cut by 45.9 per cent. After welcoming 341,175 new permanent residents in 2019, immigration to Canada fell by 45.9 per cent, to only `184,595 new permanent residents, the following year.
The number of new arrivals under the SUV saw a similar drop, falling from 475 new permanent residents in 2019 to only 230, less than half, in 2020.
In 2021, immigration roared back to life, hitting a new record at the time of 406,040 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 almost 120 per cent, the number of immigrants arriving under the SUV in 2021 grew by a more modest 52.2 per cent to 350 new permanent residents.
Then, last year, the SUV program caught up with the overall immigration trend, spiking another 58.6 per cent, or 205 new permanent residents, to set the new record of 555 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 50 new permanent residents to Canada. By the end of last year, it had grown more than 11 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.
In the first quarter of this year, the SUV numbers started off strong with 55 new permanent residents welcomed in January but then seesawed over the next two months, dropping to less than half the monthly figure in February, only 20 new permanent residents, before rebounding to 60 in March.
SUV Numbers Started Strong But Fizzled Out Near End Of Last Year
April saw only 20 new permanent residents under the SUV. That tripled to 60 in May and remained fairly steady the following month with 65 new permanent residents in June.
During the summer months, the SUV was going relatively strong with 45 new permanent residents in July, 50 in August, and 45 in September.
Then, the program lost steam in the last quarter of the year. After welcoming 45 new permanent residents in October, it gradually fizzled with only 35 in November and 15 in December.
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.
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.
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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: