Every year Canada receives thousands of application for its Start-Up Visa program (SUV). The program was established in 2015 to attract aspiring entrepreneurs from across the world who have an innovative idea that can create jobs and scale up globally. 

Here are five things that you probably didn’t know about the SUV program:

1. Canada’s only federal business immigration program

Canada has close to 90 different visa programs for workers and applicants for permanent residency. The reason that there are so many visa programs is because each of Canada’s ten provinces are allowed to promote their own immigration programs or Provincial Nomination Programs (PNP). This is on top of the programs that the Government of Canada offers, such as the skilled worker program.

With most provinces offering their own investor entrepreneur programs, the Government of Canada only offers the SUV program as a business immigration path, which makes it Canada’s only federal business program. This is significant because as a federal or “national” program, applicants are free to live and work anywhere in Canada. This is in contrast to PNP programs that obligate immigrants to stay in the province. 

2. 90% approval rate for South Africans

Founders from South Africa have over a 90% success rate when applying to Canada’s Start-Up Visa program for permanent residency. Since this federal program was officially launched in 2015, the Government of Canada has received well over 4,000 applications. South Africa tops the list of accepted applications based on country of origin, beating out China, India, Hong Kong, US, and the UK.

3. No investment requirement from business incubators

Unlike most investor visa programs, the SUV program does not obligate start-up founders to commit to investing capital in Canada. To be accepted into the program, an applicant must be sponsored by a Canadian Designated Organization. This includes a registered angel investor group, private equity firm or a business incubator. Unlike angel investors or private equity firms, who must commit to investing into the start-up, business incubators are not required to invest in the start-up company in order to issue a letter of support. Statistics from the program reveal that 70% of applicants of the start up visa program enter through a business incubator. 

4. Applications received from every continent

The SUV program is truly a global program that draws innovators from around the globe. Every liveable continent has been represented in the program with applications from 69 different countries as of the end of 2020.  

5. Female entrepreneurs enjoy equity

While it may be true that other business programs are dominated by male applicants, the number of female to male applicants in the SUV program is close to equal. From between 2015 to 2020 Statistics Canada reported the success ratio between male to female applicants was 55% to 45%. This should not be a surprise as the Canadian federal government has a history of promoting female entrepreneurship as seen in its 2021 budget.