At least 1,462 individuals have been approved for Canadian startup visas since 2015, recently released statistics from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) show.
A raft of data obtained by IMI, which covers the period from 2015 to the first quarter of 2021 (less the first half of 2020, for which no data is available), shows Vietnamese applicants have been the number one nationality approved under the program since 2015. Overall, they account for 17% of approved applications, followed by Indians (16%), Chinese (15%), and Iranians (8%). In the first quarter of this year, 44% of approved applicants were Vietnamese.
The program, which started as a pilot in 2013, was made permanent in April 2018. Approval volumes nearly tripled the following year, from 231 in 2018 to 640 in 2019, before falling sharply again in 2020, weighed down by the pandemic's effects. Those effects appeared to be lingering also during the first quarter of this year, the latest period for which figures are available; only 45 individuals had received approvals in the year to March 31st. Still-effective travel restrictions placed on Vietnamese, Indian, and Chinese nationals, the top three applicant nationalities, explain much of the decline.
Approval rates (applications less withdrawals and rejections) were high during the early years. In 2015, 85% of applicants were approved. In 2016, 103 of 104 applicants received their visas, while one applicant withdrew from consideration before his application had been processed.
"For 2016 and 2017, we were the only firm promoting this in Vietnam," says Bastien Trelcat of Harvey Law Group, a leading advisor on the Canada SUV. "100% of our clients were approved in those years."
As other companies joined the fray in 2018, approval rates began falling, reaching a nadir of just 63%. Trelcat says his firm was still able to get all their clients approved that year but that during the following year "some consultants started abusing loopholes in the program, such as by selling it as a passive investment, resulting in higher levels of denials." In 2019, he reveals, his firm accounted for some 40% of the 640 visas issued to Vietnamese applicants.
Christian Henrik Nesheim is the founder and editor of Investment Migration Insider, the #1 magazine - online or offline - for residency and citizenship by investment. He is an internationally recognized expert, speaker, documentary producer, and writer on the subject of investment migration, whose work is cited in the Economist, Bloomberg, Fortune, Forbes, Newsweek, and Business Insider. Norwegian by birth, Christian has spent the last 16 years in the United States, China, Spain, and Portugal.