Canada Announces Major Changes to Startup Visa, Caps on PR Applications

Canada's popular Startup Visa Program (SUV) has been revamped to focus on startups receiving domestic financial support or incubation. The program now limits applications associated with designated organizations and offers faster processing for ventures backed by Canadian investors.
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Canada’s Startup Visa Program (SUV), a popular option for foreign entrepreneurs seeking permanent residency, has undergone significant changes with recent announcements from Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

Announced in April 2024, the move, aimed at reducing backlogs and enhancing processing times, introduces strict limitations that could potentially dash the dreams of many hopefuls.

Key Changes to the Startup Visa Program

Best Startup Visa Programs

1. Capping Permanent Residence Applications

Effective April 30, Canada has imposed a cap on the number of permanent residence applications processed annually, restricting them to no more than 10 startups per designated organization.

With approximately 82 designated entities including venture capital funds, angel investors, and business incubators, the ceiling translates to a maximum of 820 applications per year.

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2. Priority Processing for Supported Startups

Under the revamped regulations, priority processing will be accorded to startups supported by Canadian capital or affiliated with a member of Canada’s Tech Network, a move aimed at fostering homegrown entrepreneurship.

3. Eligibility Criteria

While the startup visa (SUV) program offers a direct route to permanent residence without requiring applicants to invest personal funds or meet minimum net worth criteria, financial sufficiency upon arrival is imperative. Support from designated partners, such as venture capital funds or business incubators, remains a prerequisite.

Also Read: Canada Extends Work Permits and Flexibility for Startup Visa Holders

Impact on Aspiring Entrepreneurs

Immigration lawyer Josh Schachnow warns that these changes could drastically reduce opportunities: “With less than 1,000 applications expected through SUV this year, the program’s capacity is significantly reduced.”

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Reasons Behind the Changes

The Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) cites a backlog of applications as the primary reason for the cap. This aims to expedite processing times and improve program efficiency.

Expert Opinions

Many in the immigration and entrepreneur-funding sectors view these changes negatively. Canada was previously ranked the top destination for startup founders by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in 2023.

Since its launch in 2013, the SUV program has facilitated the permanent residency of nearly 900 entrepreneurs, leading to the creation of over 300 startups. Notably, the US lacks a similar program offering a direct path to citizenship for immigrant entrepreneurs.

Additional Changes

The IRCC also announced a temporary halt on accepting new applications for the Self-Employed Persons Program, starting April 30, 2024. This program targets individuals with exceptional skills in cultural fields who can contribute to Canada’s cultural landscape.

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The pause aims to clear the existing backlog of applications, with processing times exceeding four years. The IRCC will utilize this time to evaluate program reforms and ensure its integrity.

Conclusion

Overall, these changes signify a shift in Canada’s immigration strategy for entrepreneurs. While processing times may improve, aspiring immigrant entrepreneurs face a narrower path to permanent residency, with a stronger emphasis on securing domestic financial or incubation support.


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Manish Khandelwal
Manish Khandelwal

Manish Khandelwal, a travel-tech enthusiast with over a decade of experience in the travel industry. Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Travelobiz.com, he's passionate about writing.

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