Canada’s starCanada’s startup visa program now offers more flexibility with open-work permits of a longer tenuretup visa (SUV) program is set to get a big boost with the recent announcements made by Sean Fraser, immigration minister.
As per these announcements, applicants under the SUV program will be able to apply for a work permit that is up to three years in duration instead of just one year. Further, they will be eligible for an ‘open’ work permit instead of one that limits them to working for their own startup and lastly the three-year open work permit will be available to each member of the entrepreneurial team. Given this, interest among Indian aspirants is on the rise.
The immigration level targets under this program are currently set at 3,500 spots in the current year, 5,000 in 2024 and 6,000 in 2025, but the Canadian government seems keen to strengthen this program.
The SUV program offers a clear path to permanent residence and does not require the entrepreneur-applicants to invest any of their funds or have a minimum net worth, but they need to show adequate funds to support themselves and their family on arrival in Canada. Support from one or more of the designated partners, viz: venture capital funds (VCF), angel investor groups (who need to invest at least Canadian $ 200,00 and $75,000 respectively) or acceptance into a program by a business incubator is a must.

“By providing a streamlined pathway to obtain a work permit and ultimately permanent residency, the SUV program enables entrepreneurs to access the North American market. Even if the startup were to fail, the entrepreneur still gets permanent residence,” states Vikram Khurana, Chair of Toronto Business Development Centre, a designated business incubator and accelerator for this program.
Mana Hosseini, General Partner and Co-Founder at Apex Innovative Investment Ventures, a designated VCF told TOI, “The announcement of allowing applicants to apply for a work permit that is up to three years in duration, will provide certainty and a longer-term perspective to entrepreneurs to establish and grow their businesses in Canada. Additionally, offering an open work permit instead of one limited to working for their own startup is a significant advantage – it provides the flexibility to explore multiple opportunities, collaborate with other businesses, and gain broader exposure to the Canadian market.”
Ray Walia, chief executive officer, Launch Academy, a designated incubator and accelerator illustrates how the flexibility of an open-work permit could help. “We have also seen scenarios where two startups decide to work together and merge operations. The open work permit will come in handy as the logistics of the merger are being worked out.”
Walia adds, you may also have a scenario, where say four co-founders come to Canada, but as the startup evolves, the responsibilities of one of the founders is reduced, giving this individual a chance to supplement his/her income by filling a role in another Canadian company. However, a scenario where a startup founder immediately takes on another job, on arrival in Canada would be questionable.
Hosseini points out that the three-year open work permit has been extended to each member of the entrepreneurial team – this step is attuned to the collaborative nature of entrepreneurship.
Khurana, sums up by saying that the SUV program regulations are flexible by design to enable genuine entrepreneurs to manage business risks of their startups without worrying of the immigration outcomes. However, it should not be viewed as a passive investment program.
Changes to the temporary work permit option for Start-up Visa Program applicants, as well as the new application prioritization plan, will be in place later this year. At present, the entire process of applying for permanent residence under the SUV program takes 30-35 odd months.