Immediate Permanent Residency for Immigrant Entrepreneurs

On January 24, 2013, Jason Kenney, Canada’s Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, announced the upcoming launch of Start-Up Visa Canada. The five year pilot program for tech entrepreneurs officially opens for business on April 1 this year. Mr. Kenney boasted that Start-Up Visa Canada will be the first program in the world to offer immediate Permanent Residency to selected candidates whether or not their first venture succeeds. Programs in other countries only offer temporary residency, where the clock frequently runs out and the entrepreneurs are often forced to leave the country.

In Canada, entrepreneurs will be able to see the process through to the end as their businesses expand and collectively create thousands of new jobs. By cutting red tape and letting entrepreneurs do what they do best, Kenney said that they expect the program to attract the best and brightest entrepreneurs from around the world.

The Spin

Jason Kenney pointed out how the existing program for immigrant entrepreneurs was started in the 1970s and desperately needs updating. He said, “This new initiative supports the Government of Canada’s goal for growth and long term prosperity by building a vast flexible economic immigration system that works for Canada and for Newcomers. Canada was built by risk takers. Immigrant entrepreneurs give Canada a competitive edge and this country wants to create a climate where they can prosper.”

The Process

Kenny says the program is being run in partnership with “Canada's Venture Capital & Private Equity Association[CVCA] and the National Angel Capital Organization [NACO]… and we hope to soon have a similar agreement with the Canadian Association of Business Incubation [CABI].” Candidates are required to apply to these peer review panels and be accepted into a designated program or receive an adequate funding commitment (at least $75,000-200,000). Core management teams should consist of three to five people – who must together have at least 51% ownership.

Aspiring entrepreneurs must meet intermediate language benchmark 5, and they must have completed at least one year of post-secondary education. They must also be admissible on both security and health grounds. Kenney stressed that “This process ensures high quality applicants and filters out people who might try to get in through the back door.”

In the beginning, the program will be limited to a maximum of 2750 participants per year. “If demand exceeds that and the program is working well, we hope to expand that. But we anticipate just a few hundred in the first year.” Candidates should be able to acquire Permanent Residency in less than one year.

“It is our intention that the application process will only take a few months,” said Kenney. The ministry can’t guarantee that the online application will be available by April first but it will certainly will be available online within the first year.

It’s great to see Canada taking the lead with such an ambitious and inspiring program.

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