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As of April 30th, 2024, Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has introduced new measures for processing Start-Up Visa applications. Simultaneously, the department temporarily halted applications for the Self-Employed Persons Program. Immigration Minister Marc Miller has announced significant changes due to growing pressure to minimize application backlogs and processing times.

Here are the changes that the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has implemented to the Start-Up Visa and Self-Employed Program:

New Changes to Start-Up Visa Program

  • Processing of permanent residence applications will be limited to a maximum of 10 start-ups per each of the 84 designated organizations composed of venture capital firms, angel investor groups, and business incubators.
  • The government has set a limit of 840 applications, which means that they will not accept any more than that.
  • Entrepreneurs whose start-up is supported by Canadian capital or a business incubator member of Canada’s Tech Network will receive priority processing.

New Changes to Self-Employed Persons Program

  • A full pause on application intake for the Self-Employed Persons Program has been announced, starting April 30, 2024.
  • This pause is due to the high number of applications submitted for this program, which has increased processing times beyond four years.
  • IRCC will continue to process applications from the backlog during the pause. They are also reviewing options to improve the program and ensure its integrity.
  • Due to a backlog of applications and processing times exceeding four years, the pause is expected to extend until the end of 2026 and increase admissions for the federal business category as outlined in the 2024-2026 multi-year levels plan.
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Why did IRCC update the Startup Visa and Self-Employed Persons Program?

The Canadian government has recognized that some immigration programs can create jobs as they tend to be entrepreneurial and innovative. This is not only because businesses spend money, but also because startups bring new economic opportunities. According to the IRCC, processing time is a critical component of the immigration system that works better for foreign entrepreneurs and Canadians. The government has implemented these measures to modernize Start-Up Visa and Self-Employed Persons Program.

With these steps, IRCC aims to decrease the backlog, reduce waiting times, and continue to welcome skilled, creative, and entrepreneurial individuals to contribute to Canada’s growing economy.

“Fast processing is critical to the success of entrepreneurs who come to Canada through our federal business programs. These necessary changes will set the Start-Up Visa Program and Self-Employed Persons Program on the path to faster processing times while we look ahead to further reforms to make these programs more sustainable and effective over the long term.” Said Marc Miller.

Important Facts about the Start-Up Visa Program

  • In a report released by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development in 2023, Canada is the top choice for start-up founders, taking into account factors such as capital accessibility, corporate tax rates, skilled workforce, university quality, standard of living, and immigration regulations relevant to entrepreneurs and their families.
  • Since the program began in 2013, approximately 900 entrepreneurs have acquired permanent residency under this category, resulting in the establishment of over 300 startups.
  • To be eligible to submit an application for the Start-up Visa Program, a foreign entrepreneur needs to secure support from a recognized venture capital fund (requiring a $200,000 investment), angel investor group (requiring a $75,000 investment), or business incubator (given admission to their incubation program).
  • IRCC says the program’s success rate is generally higher than 75%. The kind of designated organization determines the approval rate. The percentage of businesses backed by business incubators (78%), angel investor networks (80%), and venture capital funds (43%) is the breakdown of startup support.
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If you are an immigrant applying for a Start-up Visa or Self-employed Visa, and you need assistance or have questions about your immigration application or status, we are here to help. Our team of experienced immigration consultants can provide you with support and guidance. Please contact us for a consultation, and let us help you with your immigration needs.

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