On January 24 2013 Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney announced that Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) would launch the Start-Up Visa Programme to recruit innovative immigrant entrepreneurs who will create new jobs and spur economic growth. A formal announcement relating to this programme has been expected since the minister formally announced consultations in connection with such programme in April 2012.
The Start-Up Visa Programme is a pilot programme that will commence on April 1 2013 and will run for five years. Although the most recent announcement does not mention whether there will be an annual cap, the April 2012 announcement indicated that these types of pilot programme would be limited to 2,750 applications a year. If the programme proves successful during the five-year trial period, CIC may formally introduce it as a new economic class in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations.
Foreign entrepreneurs seeking permanent residence under the programme will require the support of a Canadian angel investor group, venture capital fund or business incubator before they can apply. Pursuant to agreements signed with CIC, these organisations will:
- recommend which of their members should be designated as eligible to participate in the programme;
- establish expert peer review panels to assist CIC officers in case determinations; and
- provide assurance that industry standards of due diligence were followed.
Initially, the Venture Capital and Private Equity Association and the National Angel Capital Organisation will be active partners in the Start-Up Visa Programme. CIC also intends to include the Canadian Association of Business Incubation as a partner in the programme at some point in the near future. The process of designating which Canadian angel investor groups and venture capital funds will be eligible to participate in the programme will begin soon, The process of designating which Canadian business incubators will be eligible to participate in the programme will begin at a later date.
Foreign entrepreneurs will also have to meet certain criteria regarding language proficiency and educational qualifications. The full set of criteria will be published in Spring 2013.