On April 1, 2013 the Government of Canada officially launched the world’s first Start-Up Visa Program aimed at recruiting innovative immigrant entrepreneurs.  Announced on January 24, 2013, Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s (« CIC ») new Start-Up Visa Program will link immigrant entrepreneurs with private sector organizations in Canada that have experience working with start-ups and who can provide essential resources.

What it is?

The new visa is a bold new approach to attracting the world’s best and brightest start-up entrepreneurs to make Canada their destination of choice. The Program is unique because it will provide foreign entrepreneurs valuable assistance in navigating the Canadian business environment. For example, it will provide highly sought after entrepreneurs permanent residency and immediate access to Canadian business partners. This is expected to provide Canadian private sector organizations a powerful new tool which will allow them to attract global entrepreneurs who, it is hoped, will result in significant job creation.

How it works?

In order for an immigrant entrepreneur to qualify for the new Start-Up Visa Program, they will need to secure a minimum investment of $75,000 from a Canadian angel investor group or $200,000 from a Canadian venture capital fund. In addition to certain other program requirements, they will also have to possess certain educational qualifications and meet language proficiency standards.

At the outset, CIC will collaborate with Canada’s Venture Capital & Private Equity Association (CVCA) and the National Angel Capital Organization (NACO).  These groups will identify which members of their associations will be eligible to participate in the Program. CIC is also finalizing details of cooperation with the Canadian Association of Business Incubation (CABI) to include business incubators in the list of eligible organizations. A full list of designated venture capital funds and angel investor groups is now available on the Citizenship and Immigration Canada website.

The pilot program will run for five (5) years. Initially, the emphasis will be on the quality of the applicants and on achieving successful outcomes. The number of applicants accepted will therefore initially be highly limited. Assuming the Program is successful, CIC hopes to expand it to formally introduce a new economic class in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations.

The Start-Up Visa Program represents CIC’s latest effort at meeting the new and evolving needs of the Canadian economy by building a faster and more flexible economic immigration system.