While great entrepreneurs can come from anywhere, the federal government is taking steps to ensure more of them ultimately find their way to Canada. On April 1, Ottawa will launch a new startup visa program, designed to attract sought-after immigrant entrepreneurs with the promise of permanent residency and immediate access to a wide range of business partners.
Through the first program of its kind in Canada, the federal government hopes to position the country as a destination of choice for startups. “Recruiting dynamic entrepreneurs from around the world will help Canada remain competitive in the global economy,” says Immigration Minister Jason Kenney.
With the new initiative, the government will reserve 2,750 visas each year for immigrant entrepreneurs and their families. By contrast, under the previous entrepreneur program, the government issued only 700 visas last year.
“Through this program, we want to attract high-quality entrepreneurs from around the globe and help build best-in-class companies in Canada,” says Peter van der Velden, president of Canada’s Venture Capital & Private Equity Association (CVCA) and managing general partner of Lumira Capital.
Michelle Scarborough, board chair of NACO, points out the program will help develop Canada’s reputation internationally and bolster the economy from within. “Working with Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) and angel groups across the country, this initiative will create Canadian jobs and position Canada as a leader in innovation.”
Under the new visa program, immigrants will be issued to entrepreneurs singled out by venture capital funds as the best candidates to launch startups in Canada. Entrepreneurs will be required to get the support of an investor group or venture capital fund before they can apply to the program.
Initially, Citizenship and Immigration Canada will collaborate with two umbrella groups: CVCA and the National Angel Capital Organization. CIC is also working with the Canadian Association of Business Incubation to include business incubators in the list of eligible organizations as soon as is feasible.