Major Updates to Canada’s Business Immigration Programs: Streamlining the Start-up Visa and Pausing the Self-Employed Persons Program

Ottawa, April 29, 2024 – In a move aimed at bolstering Canada’s economic development through streamlined immigration processes, the Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, has announced significant changes to the Start-up Visa and Self-Employed Persons programs. These changes are designed to reduce application backlogs and improve processing times, demonstrating a commitment to making Canada’s immigration system more efficient and responsive.

Focused Improvements in the Start-up Visa Program

Effective April 30, 2024, the Start-up Visa Program will see two key changes aimed at enhancing support for high-potential start-ups:

Annual Cap on Applications: Moving forward, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will only accept permanent residence applications tied to a maximum of 10 start-ups per designated organization per year. This cap is intended to prioritize quality and ensure that only the most promising ventures, backed by significant domestic support, navigate through the immigration process.

Priority Processing: Entrepreneurs supported by Canadian venture capital, angel investor groups, or business incubators affiliated with Canada’s Tech Network will now benefit from priority processing. This includes a faster review of both existing inventory and new applications, facilitating quicker entry of talented innovators into Canada’s business ecosystem.

Temporary Suspension of the Self-Employed Persons Program

In a parallel effort to manage resources and reduce processing times, Minister Miller has also declared a complete halt on new applications to the Self-Employed Persons Program, starting April 30, 2024. Historically, this program has offered a pathway to permanent residence for individuals with significant contributions in arts, culture, recreation, or sports. However, due to a surge in applications, processing times have extended beyond four years.

During this suspension, which extends through the end of 2026, IRCC will concentrate on processing the existing backlog. Meanwhile, the department will evaluate potential reforms to ensure the program’s effectiveness and integrity, aligning it more closely with Canada’s cultural and economic priorities.

Looking Ahead

These changes come as part of the broader 2024–2026 multi-year levels plan, which includes increased admissions in the federal business category. By refining application intake and increasing capacity, IRCC aims to significantly cut down wait times and maintain its role in welcoming innovative and entrepreneurial talent essential for Canada’s continuous economic growth.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada continues to commit to an immigration system that not only meets the emerging needs of the economy but also supports the vibrant community of newcomers aspiring to be part of Canada’s future.

At NPZ Law Group, our U.S. and Canadian lawyers seek to assist clients with regard to employment and family immigration issues. If you or your friends or family should have any questions about any aspect of U.S. and Canadian Immigration Law, please feel free to contact us at or you can call our office at 201-670-0006 (ext. 104). We look forward to being able to assist you.