Evaluation of the Start-Up Visa Program

Audit and Evaluation Branch

December 2023

Executive summary


This report presents the findings of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada’s (IRCC) evaluation of the Start-Up Visa (SUV) Program. This evaluation was conducted in fulfillment of the requirements under the Treasury Board Policy on Results and assessed the relevance, performance, and governance of the program between period of May 1, 2016 to December 31, 2021.

The objective of the evaluation was to assess the SUV as an ongoing program and its results, looking at key areas such as the extent to which Start-Up Visa entrepreneurs are actively pursuing innovative start-up ventures in Canada and the economic benefits of the program to Canada.

Summary of key findings

The evaluation found that the SUV Program was aligned with Government of Canada priorities, was a necessary part of IRCC’s suite of immigration programs, and remains relevant in the face of global economic and migration trends. It was less clear, however, the degree to which the program was fully meeting its objectives.

The evaluation found that there was a lack of clarity across stakeholders about certain roles, responsibilities, and the peer review process, which impacted the overall effectiveness, performance, and governance of the program. The SUV Program detected some problematic applications; however, the control mechanisms used to help resolve these applications were unreliable or not fully developed due to a lack of investigative capacity, tools and resources.

The SUV Program attracted and helped retain foreign entrepreneurs, despite the programs challenges. Clients accessed business start-up services and temporary work permits, and stakeholders tended to have positive views of the SUV Program. While there were results indicating positive economic contributions, specific gaps in more performance data prevented the evaluation from developing a detailed understanding of the SUV program’s full economic impact.


In response to the findings, and in support of the continued improvement of the program, the evaluation proposes the following recommendations are proposed.

  1. IRCC should, in consultation with partners, reconfirm additional key performance indicators on SUV client business performance and the start-up business industry, and collect associated data.
  2. IRCC should develop and implement a strategy to more fully document and strengthen the peer review process in order to ensure its reliability and maximize usefulness.
  3. IRCC should develop and implement an approach for overseeing the participation of Designated Entities in the program, including by clarifying roles and responsibilities and the process for de-designations.
  4. IRCC should strengthen the program’s integrity strategy by enhancing its investigative capacity, including tools and resources.
  5. IRCC should take steps to address program wait times and reduce the application backlog.

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