Canada Seeking Entrepreneurs through Proposed Start-Up Visa Program


  Skilled foreign workers equipped with an entrepreneurial spirit and a viable business model may be able to innovate their way to obtain a Canadian work permit. In April, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney introduced the notion of a new “start-up visa” program for innovators abroad.

The Canadian immigration system offers no such option to date. Under the former Entrepreneur Category, candidates had little incentive to undertake big risks. It required a minimum start-up investment of $300,000 CAD in a business for two years in order to qualify.  If the business did not perform, the applicant’s visa could be revoked.  Kenney also seeks to reform the Federal Investor Immigration program, under which applicants with at least two years of business experience were obliged to make an interest-free loan of $800,000 CAD to the government for five years.  Both of these programs were closed in July of 2011.   

Canadian immigration services hope to make small incremental changes to attract foreign innovators who have ideas especially in the technology and resource sectors.  It expects to halve the amount of Canadian work experience requisite for foreign workers to apply for citizenship.  Those under the temporary foreign worker stream are eligible to apply for permanent residence in Canada if they possess at least two years of full-time work experience. More constructively, the anticipated changes cut the requirement to only 12 months of experience. 

The new program hopes to attract foreign skilled workers and entrepreneurs whose ideas will propagate more jobs domestically and make Canada more fiercely competitive on an international level.  Ultimately, it aims to nurture global corporations base themselves primarily in Canada. If executed, the start-up visa program will be short-lived and intends to be implemented as a trial period. It expects to last for five years and will only approve 2750 applications annually. This however is an improvement from the 1500 entrepreneur-class applications per year processed under its predecessor. Should it prove successful, authorities will then have the decision to formally integrate the program into the fabric of Canada’s immigration system.

If your qualifications meet those of this proposed visa program, please refer back to our website for further updates.

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