Canada Launches Start-Up Visa To Attract Entrepreneurs Through Fast-Tracked Residency

April 1, 2013 by Dave Haynes


There’s been lots of chatter in the last 2-3 years about the need change immigration laws to attract tech entrepreneurs and keep brilliant young minds in North America after they finish college in the US or Canada.

There’s hasn’t been much progress in gridlocked Washington, but a new program has started today in Canada that encourages entrepreneurs to build their ideas here.

The Start-Up Visa Program fast-tracks permanent residency for people touting new business ventures who get significant financial backing from Canadian investors.

Canada is open for business to the world’s start-up entrepreneurs, says Jason Kenney, Canada’s Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister. Innovation and entrepreneurship are essential drivers of the Canadian economy. That is why we are actively recruiting foreign entrepreneurs – those who can build companies here in Canada that will create new jobs, spur economic growth and compete on a global scale – with our new start-up visa.

The program is the first of its kind in the world and is specifically designed to keep people who go to top universities like Waterloo, McGill and UBC to stick around instead of returning to India, Eastern Europe or wherever. It will also draw in entrepreneurs who want to crack this overall market but can’t get a US visa.

The federal government worked with two umbrella organizations, Canada’s Venture Capital and Private Equity Association (CVCA) and the National Angel Capital Organization (NACO), to identify and designate  VCs and angel investor groups keen to participate in the program.

To apply for permanent resident status in Canada, says Ottawa, the foreign entrepreneur must first secure a significant investment commitment from a designated Canadian angel investor group or venture capital fund. Applicants must also demonstrate language proficiency skills at a Canadian Language Benchmark 5 in listening, speaking, reading and writing, and have at least one year of education at a post-secondary institution.

“The CVCA and our individual members look forward to the launch of the Start-Up Visa Program,” said Peter van der Velden, President of the CVCA. “Our participating funds welcome the opportunity to take part in this first-of-its-kind program, which has the potential to help them attract best-in-class entrepreneurial talent to their Canadian-based investee companies.

“There has been significant interest from both angels and entrepreneurs since the announcement of this program,” said Michelle Scarborough, Chair of NACO. “Our angel group members across Canada are eager to participate, and we look forward to supporting the growth of new businesses and helping them to make their mark in Canada, further expanding our economy.”

The Start-Up Visa Program is a five-year pilot program, and 2,750 visas have been set aside annually.

To qualify, immigrant entrepreneurs have to line up and secure a minimum of $200,000 from VCs or $75,000 from an angel group. The process takes three to six months.

The Globe and Mail newspaper has a story here.

photo credit: mars_discovery_district via photopin cc

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