STOCK Canada Migration
Canada continues to be the major draw for UAE residents planning a migration. Recent initiatives on immigration should help raise the pace. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Dubai: Even as other nations step up their own residency and investment-linked programmes, Canada retains its hold as the top overseas choice for UAE’s residents seeking such options.

Candidates from the UAE remain among the Top 5 rankings in receiving an express-entry ‘Invitation to Apply’ (ITA), or electronic Application for Permanent Residence (eAPR) from Canadian immigration authorities.

The eAPR is the final step of Canada’s Express Entry programme, and the Startup Visa remains the top entry option in the country.

In 2019-21, Canada issued 3,587 ITAs to applicants from the UAE. The numbers have shot since then.

“Our business has grown by 10 to 15 per cent in the past year,” said Jafar Syed, founder of Cosmos Immigration.“Canadian authorities have been focusing on healthcare workers, STEM experts and French-speaking candidates.

But there is no slowdown in demand from the UAE.

- Jafar Syed

Pathways to residency

For Canada’s Express Entry, those under 30, young professionals with some work experience and higher level educational degrees have the best chance to be selected,” said Preeya Malik, Managing Director of STEP Global.

Those willing to enter a pool and hedge their bets may try the Express Entry programme.

- Preeya Malik

Someone not falling into that category - due to age and other factors - can opt to make an investment in the Startup Visa programme and gain permanent residency.

Thanks to its multiple benefits, Startup Visas are gaining massive traction among UAE applicants, said Harbhajan Singh, Managing Director of Future Vision Migration.

“Applicants are usually entrepreneurs who may have had successful startups and would like to enter the Canadian market with a similar business plan,” he said. “Because it is the only programme that offers a direct pathway to a permanent residency and does not have a specific investment amount requirement, many small-scale entrepreneurs are opting for this.”

This route allows the investor, the spouse, and any children under 22 to be included on a single application for direct permanent residency.

Applicants need to have a qualifying business, get a letter of support from a designated organisation (venture capital funds, angel investor groups or business incubators), meet language requirements (minimum IELTS score of 5), and provide proof of funds to support themselves

- Harbhajan Singh

For example, a family of four must show Dh69,457 (CAD 25,564) during application. An additional Dh10,069 (Canadian $3,706) needs to be displayed per family member.

“These are considered achievable goals for UAE entrepreneurs,” said Singh.

Canada wants entrepreneurs
According to Canada’s Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), the Startup Visa program has seen a 6.3 per cent increase in new permanent residents arriving in the first-half of this year compared to 2022. During this period, 335 new permanent residents were welcomed through SUV, marking a rise of 20 individuals from the 315 last year.

“The SUV programme numbers will go from 1000 visas per year to 14,000+ by 2026, showing government support for the program and the desire to bring in professionals, investors, and growth through the tech sector,” said Preeya Malik of STEP Global.

Cost of migration

The financial aspect of the immigration process depends upon specific programmes.

“For instance, certain programmes could range from approximately Dh15,000 to Dh20,000, covering government fees for a family of three- to four members,” said Syed.

“More comprehensive ones might costs Dh110,000 to Dh150,000.”

The fees associated with some immigration pathways have risen due to inflation or policy adjustments, while others might have remained stable or even decreased in specific situations.

The Immigration Visa Fees for Federal Skilled Worker Programs - one of the most popular programmes - increased last year by nearly Canadian $300 per applicant.

- Clint Khan, Managing Director of Y-Axis Middle East,
Notable changes in Canada’s immigration policies
Marc Miller, the new Canadian Immigration Minister, has said immigration is a critical factor that helps Canada combat the country’s ageing natural population.

Significant changes include the launch of the 3-year pilot Recognized Employer Pilot Programme in September last year, which simplifies the process of hiring a temporary foreign worker for Canadian employees.

The immigration authorities announced category-based selection for the Express Entry System, which means they would select applicants based on occupation as compared to being based on a high comprehensive ranking system (CRS) tool, Khan explained.

The immigration authority will hold category-based express entry draws. The categories decided for 2023 are French language proficiency, healthcare, STEM professions, trades, carpenters, plumbers, contractors, transport, and agriculture and agri-food.