Canada: Canada's New Start-Up Visa Program

Last Updated: July 30 2013
Article by David Comtois

It is no secret that countries with a high level of entrepreneurial activity tend to be better off economically. Industry Canada recognizes that fact and even underlines, in a research called The State of Entrepreneurship in Canada, that ''entrepreneurial activity (...) is not just good for entrepreneurs themselves. It benefits all Canadians. Entrepreneurship is a powerful force driving innovation, productivity, job creation and economic growth.''

Then a question comes to mind: if Canada considers entrepreneurship as a key component for all the above mentioned aspects, why not opening its horizons and seeking abroad for entrepreneurs with innovative and promising ideas, interested in living in Canada and contributing to its improvement? It seems like a win-win situation, isn't it?

That is at least what believed Citizenship and Immigration Canada Department when announcing on January 24th, 2013, the creation of a new Start-Up Visa (SUV) program. This new 5-year pilot visa program has been launched on April 1st, 2013, and it aims to recruit innovative immigrant entrepreneurs who will create jobs and spur economic growth in Canada. Around up to 2,750 visas are planned to be granted every year.

The Canadian SUV program is the first one in the world to provide immediate, unconditional, permanent residency to immigrant entrepreneurs once they are selected by one of the designated private sector organizations, which are obviously amazing and competitive advantages from both the immigration and the entrepreneurial perspectives. Indeed, the SUV program will link immigrant entrepreneurs with private sector organizations that have experience working with starts-ups. These designated organizations are Canada's Venture Capital & Private Equity Association (CVCA) and National Angel Capital Organization (NACO). Each of these two organizations has of course its own criteria to determine whether or not it should/can invest in an applying entrepreneur's business project. Their preferred investment profiles include, but are not limited to:

  • Biotechnology and pharmacology;
  • Commerce and consumer products;
  • Communication and media;
  • Electronics;
  • Energy;
  • Industrial products;
  • Information technology;
  • Medical / health;
  • Manufacturing.

The requirements are simple and they transfer a part of the burden of the applicants' selection to the private sector. The entrepreneur applicants only need to meet a few requirements in order to be eligible. With some extra requirements met, applicants might even be subject to a fast track processing. Here are the main requirements:

  1. Commitment from a designated entity

    The applicant must provide a Letter of Support confirming that;

    • a designated venture capital fund commits to invest CAD 200,000 in the applicant's business project;
    • OR
    • a designated angel investor group commits to invest CAD 75,000 in the applicant's business project.
  2. The applicant must meet the minimum level of CLB 5 in English or in French in all four areas: speaking, reading, listening, and writing. The applicant must also be a post-secondary student (at least one year accomplished) and have sufficient settlement funds.

In the end, what is important to remember is that Canada now acts as a pioneer, from an inland and an overseas point of view, with the launch of the new SUV program. Indeed, finding a way to encourage entrepreneurs and innovators from all around the world combined to building a flexible and efficient economic immigration program to help improving Canada's economy maybe once seemed like a bold endeavor, but, now that the SUV program is officially operational, no one would refute its value.

This new SUV program reflects Citizenship and Immigration Canada's will and visions; it embraces the policy's evolution of recent immigration programs that focus on a fast, safe and more interactive immigrants' selection. As mentioned earlier, this program will most definitely enhance the integration of newcomers while stimulating economic growth and generating job opportunities for all Canadians.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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