IRCC updates Start-up Visa and Self-Employed Persons programs to reduce backlogs and improve processing

Asheesh Moosapeta
Updated: Apr, 29, 2024
  • Published: April 29, 2024

Immigration Minister Marc Miller has announced important changes to the Start-Up Visa and Self-Employed Persons programs.

As of April 30th, 2024, Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will implement new policies around processing applications for the Start-up Visa. On the same day, the department will impose a full pause on application intake for the Self-Employed Persons program.

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Start-up Visa changes

Starting April 30th, IRCC will alter application processing under the Start-up Visa by focusing on:

  • Capping the number of permanent residents accepted under this program by excluding applicants associated with no more than 10 start-ups per designated organization*; and
  • Providing priority processing to entrepreneurs whose start-up is supported by a Canadian capital or business incubator that is a member of Canada’s Tech Network (including applications already submitted under the program).

*Designated organizations are Canadian business groups (venture capital funds, angel investor groups, and/or business incubators) that have been approved under the program to invest in a start-up business. Applicants under the Start-up visa will need the support of a designated organization to be eligible under the program.

Self-Employed Persons program changes

IRCC has announced a full pause on application intake for the Self-Employed Persons program—which is planned to be in place until the end of 2026. As a result of a high number of applications within the program inventory, processing times have increased to longer than four years.

While the temporary pause is in place, IRCC will continue to finalize applications, simultaneously looking for opportunities to continue to reform the program, while maintaining its integrity.

About the programs

The Start-up Visa

Canada’s Start-Up visa program allows foreign nationals who are owners (or part-owners) of a start-up business to immigrate and permanently settle in Canada, provided that they:

  • Have a qualifying business;
  • Get a letter of support from a designated organization;
  • Meet language requirements; and
  • Bring enough money to settle in Canada.

To learn more about the program, visit our dedicated webpage here.

The Self-Employed Persons program

The Self-Employed Persons program is a pathway to permanent residence (PR) for self-employed foreign individuals with notable experience in art, culture, recreation, or sports, and who can contribute to Canada’s cultural vitality.

To be eligible, applicants must:

  • Have relevant experience;
  • Be willing and able to be self-employed in Canada;
  • Meet program selection criteria; and
  • Meet medical, security, and other pre-conditions.

To learn more about the Self-Employed Persons program, find our dedicated webpage here.

Notably both programs fall under the “Federal Business” category of the immigration levels plan, which is set to increase from a 5,000-newcomer allocation to a 6,000-newcomer allotment starting in 2025.

Speaking on the 29th of April, Miller reiterated the need for more efficient processing for these streams:

“Fast processing is critical to the success of entrepreneurs who come to Canada through our federal business programs. These necessary changes will set.... faster processing times while we look ahead to further reforms to make these programs more sustainable and effective over the long term.”

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