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BlogDramatic work permit changes for Start Up Visa applicants!

11 July 2023

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The introduction of the “Tech Talent Strategy” by Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) last month brought lots of good news for Start Up Visa (SUV) applicants including extending the work permit validity period from one year to three years, allowing for open work permits for individuals to work in Canada other than in their own businesses and also extending these perks to all the members of the SUV team rather than only for essential members. IRCC Minister Sean Fraser’s announcement is meant to alleviate situations of hardship for SUV applicants facing long processing times for their permanent residence applications and also enables Canadian employers to benefit from the skills of applicants already in Canada.

How does the SUV program fit into the Minister’s “Tech Talent Strategy”? When the SUV economic immigration stream was first introduced as a pilot program in 2013, the goal was to attract start-up business ventures that featured “innovative” (ie. technological) ideas that would kick start Canada’s economy. As part of Canada’s business immigration program, it was established to replace the suspended Investor and Entrepreneur programs. Technology and IT companies are a huge driver of the economy and this program seeks to encourage forward thinking entrepreneurs to immigrate to Canada. (For a detailed explanation of the SUV program see our blog from May 12, 2020 – https://canadian-visa-lawyer.com/canadas-business-immigration-programs-remain-limited/ ).

The key aspects of the June 27, 2023 announcement for SUV applicants are as follows:

  • Allow SUV applicants to obtain a work permit valid for up to three years rather than one year validity.
  • Allow for SUV applicants to apply for an open work permit rather than a closed work permit for only their own start-up venture.
  • Allow these work permit options for ALL members of the SUV team and not just those designated as “essential”.
  • Prioritize applications for SUV applicants supported by a business incubator venture capital fund or angel investor fund.

(For a comprehensive review of the Minister’s “Tech Talent Strategy” please see our blog of June 27, 2023 – https://canadian-visa-lawyer.com/canada-goes-all-out-to-attract-technology-workers/ .

While the initial uptake of the SUV program was slow, it was picking up just prior to COVID-19. By October of 2021, the department had a pending caseload of approximately 6,700 SUV applications for permanent residence. This backlog has increased to an estimated 15,000 applicants. The combination of increased applications coupled with reduced processing times (due to COVID-19 restrictions) predictably lead to an increased delay in finalizing applications for permanent residence to Canada for SUV applicants. Recognizing this reality, Minster Fraser’s changes for SUV work permits is a positive development for those wanting to work in Canada while waiting to obtain permanent residence.

For a full list of our blogs on the Start Up Visa program see here:https://canadian-visa-lawyer.com/start-up-visa-related-posts/

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