The Start-up Visa (SUV) program I have experienced in Canada

Canada's Start-up Visa (SUV) program is designed to provide global applicants with an opportunity to start a business and obtain residency in Canada. Due to the global pandemic, the Canadian border was closed for a period of time (since theoretically, applicants need to enter the country to apply for permanent residency, and if the border is closed, it doesn't make sense for the immigration agency to approve any applicants since no one can enter anyway), and the immigration agency was not working. The average processing time listed on the official website went from 12 months to 33 months, and it was unclear when the situation would improve (the immigration agency will only resume work when the pandemic improves). It was not possible to rush or inquire about the application, and there seemed to be no hope. Fortunately, the pandemic gradually stabilized in the middle of this year, and I finally received a notice for a medical examination in July. A week later, I received the eCOPR (electronical Confirmation of Permanent Residence) and officially became a legal permanent resident of Canada. The whole process took me a year and a half.

In the previous years, I also explored various mainstream options worldwide, but ultimately couldn't make a decision. Some were due to changes in immigration policies, some had potential legal issues with the projects, and others had high costs or long processing times. When I learned about the SUV program, I believed it was the most suitable approach. My biggest requirement at the time was to succeed on the first attempt because I couldn't afford to go through the process multiple times in terms of time and money. Therefore, I decided to apply through an immigration lawyer instead of doing it myself. After researching almost all immigration agencies on the market, I gave up on finding an immigration lawyer in China and directly found one in Canada. Later, it proved to be a good decision at least. The application for the SUV program has higher requirements for lawyers than for applicants. In other words, applicants only need an IELTS score of 5.5 and relevant background, but there are very few lawyers with the resources and capabilities to handle SUV projects, and even fewer have experience. This is not only because the program only approves a little over 200 cases each year, so not many immigration lawyers have had the opportunity to handle this program, but also because immigration lawyers need local resources and experience in entrepreneurship. That's why I couldn't find a lawyer in China to handle this type of project. Even if there were, their fees would be extremely high. It's highly likely that they would take my case and sell it to other lawyers in Canada, making a profit for themselves. Therefore, this was the inevitable choice after truly understanding the industry.

SUV is a federal program, which means that immigration does not have to go through the provincial nomination process and is directly processed by the federal government. Therefore, theoretically, the application process should be shorter, and the success or failure of the business does not affect the immigration application, nor are there any requirements for income or employees. The SUV program mainly has three channels: angel investment, venture capital, and incubators. Angel funds require a minimum investment of CAD 75,000, venture capital requires an investment of CAD 200,000, and incubators have no investment requirements, only the need for the investment institution to accept the project into the incubator. This is the most common approach in practice. The general process is to initiate a startup project, send the business plan to the investment institution designated by the Canadian government, and let them decide whether to accept the project into the incubator. If accepted, the investment institution will provide a letter of support to the applicant, who can then submit the immigration application with the letter of support (the most important document in the immigration application) and other personal documents. If everything goes smoothly, it takes about 12 months to obtain permanent residency (before the pandemic, the fastest approval was within 4 months, and the longest was not more than 15 months). Since the start of this program in 2013, over 99% of applicants have been approved.

However, the Canadian immigration agency's instructions and operational standards for the SUV program are not as clear as other programs, which makes it seem easy to apply and without many requirements. This may be the main reason why the SUV program is generally difficult to navigate. Firstly, there is no clear answer as to what kind of projects are more likely to receive support and whether it is necessary to go to Canada to start operating one's own project after receiving the letter of support and submitting the immigration application. Therefore, based on the principles of reasonableness and truthfulness, as soon as I received the immigration case number, I immediately applied for a work permit to come to Canada and personally participate in the project operation. The incubator institution provides certain support for the project, such as office space, guidance from entrepreneurship mentors, as well as legal and accounting services. The entrepreneur only needs to focus on the development progress, market, and financial planning of their own project. Of course, if there are other issues that need assistance, the mentor can provide support. For example, when I first arrived, I met with my mentor, who treated me to a meal and said that if I was not familiar with the city, he could show me around.

As for the project cost, I cannot disclose it due to a confidentiality agreement. I can only say that it is much lower than most mainstream immigration programs. I am actually very lucky. I don't have a particularly outstanding background or exceptional abilities, but I still achieved this result, and I am very grateful for it. Immigration does not mean a perfect life; it just means starting a new life in hard mode. China is not hell, and Canada is not paradise. Through my own efforts, I have at least raised the lower limit of my life, gained local entrepreneurial experience, and ensured that the next generation can grow up normally. It is definitely worth it.

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