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Canada Implements Key Changes to Federal Business Immigration Programs to Enhance Efficiency

On April 29, 2024, the Canadian government announced crucial modifications to its federal business immigration programs, aimed at improving processing times and modernizing services. The Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, highlighted these changes as essential for streamlining the system to better serve both newcomers and Canadians.

Effective April 30, 2024, the Start-up Visa Program will see significant adjustments. To concentrate on high-potential start-ups, the program will now limit the number of permanent residence applications processed annually to no more than ten per designated venture capital firm, angel investor group, or business incubator. Additionally, priority processing will be given to entrepreneurs supported by Canadian capital or business incubators that are members of Canada’s Tech Network. This includes both existing applications and new submissions.

Furthermore, to address the growing backlog and extended processing times, which have surpassed four years, there will be a complete halt on new applications to the Self-Employed Persons Program starting April 30, 2024. This program traditionally offers permanent residency to individuals with significant experience in arts, culture, recreation, or sports. During this pause, the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will focus on processing existing applications while exploring reforms to enhance the program’s effectiveness and integrity.

By restricting new applications until the end of 2026 and planning an increase in admissions for the federal business category as outlined in the 2024–2026 multi-year levels plan, the IRCC aims to significantly reduce the current backlog and decrease wait times. This strategy is part of Canada’s broader goal to attract skilled, innovative, and entrepreneurial talent necessary for economic growth.

Minister Miller emphasized the importance of swift processing for the success of entrepreneurs choosing Canada for their ventures. He stated that these adjustments would set the stage for quicker processing times and pave the way for future enhancements to ensure the sustainability and efficacy of these programs.

Quick facts

  • Immigrants account for about one third of business owners with paid staff in Canada. 
  • Canada ranked number one as the most attractive destination for start-up founders in a 2023 report by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (PDF 2.18 MB). The rankings were based on a wide variety of factors, including access to capital, corporate tax rates, skills of the workforce, strength of its universities and quality of life, as well as immigration policies for entrepreneurs and their families.
  • To qualify to apply for the Start-up Visa Program, a foreign entrepreneur must have the committed support of a designated venture capital fund (investment of $200,000), angel investor group (investment of $75,000) or business incubator (acceptance into their incubation program).
  • Since the program began in 2013, about 900 entrepreneurs have become permanent residents through this category, representing the launch of more than 300 start-ups.
  • All applications in the venture capital and angel investor streams will get priority processing, as will any business incubator–supported applications that report an investment of at least $75,000.

 

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