15 January 2024

Canada Tops OECD's List As The Most Attractive Destination For Start-up Founders

Harvey Law Group


Harvey Law Group (HLG) is a leading multinational law firm headquartered in Hong Kong with over 20 offices worldwide. Founded in 1992 by Jean-François Harvey, HLG has an extensive track record and deep sector expertise in immigration law. The HLG team provides legal and advisory services to individuals and families on immigration, residency and citizenship, as well as a comprehensive range of business services for international corporations across multiple jurisdictions in Asia, North and South America, Europe, Africa and the Middle East. HLG is a Foreign Law Firm registered with the Law Society of Hong Kong Its lawyers are qualified and registered in various jurisdictions including, Québec and Ontario Bars in Canada, England & Wales, France, Thailand, Vietnam and Grenada.
According to an analytical research published by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in 2023, Canada was ranked the most attractive destination for immigrant start up founders among the OECD countries.
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According to an analytical research published by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in 2023, Canada was ranked the most attractive destination for immigrant start up founders among the OECD countries. There are 24 OECD countries, including the United States, France, United Kingdom, Ireland and Australia .

In light of the proliferation of start-up visa programs among OECD countries in recent years, the 2023 edition of the OECD report includes for the first time a ranking for immigrant start-up founders. It is interesting to note that the OECD Indicators of Talent Attractiveness is the only ranking that specifically analyses the attractiveness for foreign start-up founders, considering both general factors that create an enabling environment for start-ups as well as specific migration policies targeting prospective international start-up founders.

According to the OECD's report, Canada has excellent scores in all dimensions, including quality of opportunities, income and tax, family environment, inclusiveness, and quality of life. The high scores are attributed to the fact that Canada has a significant number of unicorns, a favourable regulatory framework for starting and running a business, a welcoming society for migrants, and favourable living conditions.

Canada is, together with Australia, the only country that offers permanent residence to all successful start-up visa applicants from day one. Canada's Start-up Visa Program is one of the key immigration policies for the country to attract foreign talents and entrepreneurs. The program enables innovative founders to obtain permanent residency, making it easier for them to establish and grow their businesses in Canada.

Furthermore, in June 2023, Canada announced the Tech Talent Strategy 2023 that introduces various improvements to the Start-Up Visa Program, making the program more appealing to foreign entrepreneurs. The new measures include increasing the program's quotas, extending work permit durations, and prioritizing applications with committed capital or Tech Network's support. For more details, please refer to our published article: Improvement Of The Start-Up Visa Program Within The New Canadian Tech Talent Strategy 2023.

The key requirements of Canada's Start-Up Visa Program are: -

  1. Letter of Support: Applicants need to secure a commitment from a designated Canadian organization, such as a venture capital fund, angel investor group, or business incubator. This organization must believe in the viability of the applicant's business idea and provide a Letter of Support.
  1. Qualifying Business: The business idea must be innovative, have the potential for high growth, and contribute to job creation in Canada. It should also be incorporated in Canada as a for-profit entity.
  1. Settlement Funds: Applicants must demonstrate they have sufficient funds to support themselves and their family members while settling in Canada. The specific amount required depends on the family size.
  1. Language Proficiency: The program requires a minimum level of proficiency in either English or French, as it aids in communication, networking, and business development in Canada. Applicants are required to take language tests to demonstrate their language skills.

To succeed under Canada's Start-Up Visa Program, it is necessary for the applicants to demonstrate a strong commitment towards developing their start-up business in Canada. They are expected obtain a work permit to actively work on their business in Canada, pending the outcome of their permanent residence application. During this time, the applicants will be required to provide a detailed business progress report supported by solid evidence and documentation about the growth and advancement of their business in Canada. Such documentation includes but not limited to the certificate of incorporation, corporate bank account document, market research and analysis reports, collaboration agreements with local Canadian entities, and a clear technology development roadmap with budget and timeline. Above all, it is crucial to show the development progress of the actual product, including all the drafts, designs and photos of the product. If the product is a software application or online platform, the applicants would be expected to provide evidence of the wireframe designs, program specifications, and/or source codes.

A more detailed discussion on the practical tips on how to prepare yourself for success in Canada's Start-Up Visa application can be found in our published article: Three Steps To A Successful Canada Startup Visa Application.

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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