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A reboot to an old program means new opportunities for immigrant investors in Canada, as the country puts out an “entrepreneurs wanted” sign and turbocharges the entry lane. 

Canada’s business startup visa program got off to something of a rocky start. In its first three years as a pilot program, the startup visa program only received 113 applications — a far cry from the 6,000 it had hoped to attract. 

But the program was lauded by the government for its low-cost and innovative approach, and welcomed by the Canadian business community, leading it to finally become a permanent part of Canada’s immigration system in 2018. 

Application numbers remained in the hundreds for several years, before being cut in half amid pandemic-imposed border closures. These numbers have since bounced back, but the government is now hoping to supercharge the program, and drive the number of annual applications into the stratosphere. 

As part of a new immigration strategy that seeks to rapidly increase immigration levels to half a million new permanent residents per year by 2025, the government has set ambitious targets for business immigrants moving to Canada through the business startup visa program and the self-employed immigration program (A parallel program for businesses that employ only the principal, and sometimes members of their family). In Canada’s 2023-2025 Multi-Year Immigration Levels Plan, the government has set a target of receiving 6,000 business immigrants per year through the programs by 2025. 

That goal, if reached, would represent an increase of over 1500 per cent from the number of immigrants using these programs to enter Canada in 2021. It’s an unprecedented increase, and meeting it will require a lot of applicants.

There’s more good news for immigrants with entrepreneurial dreams: the business start up visa program has historically accepted around 80 per cent of applications. That success rate makes it a more reliable pathway to citizenship than some other classes of visa, allowing entrepreneurs to access Canadian permanent residence status faster and more easily. 

As for why you should choose Canada to start a business, it’s pretty simple. An open-minded country built on immigration and tolerance, Canada offers high levels of government support for businesses, low business tax rates and ample programs to support immigrant dreams. The country also scores near the top of most rankings of the best countries to live in, with a remarkably stable and resilient economy. 

If you’re considering an entrepreneurial entry to Canada, you should talk to an immigration lawyer who can help you navigate the business startup visa program. But in short, you’ll need an eligible business, the sponsorship of an established organization and good command of English or French. You’ll also have to demonstrate enough annual revenue to fund your new life, over $20,371 for a family of three. 

For prospective immigrants who dream of coming to Canada and starting a business, the stars have aligned. There’s never been a better time to apply.

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