Ottawa hopes to lure innovative entrepreneurs from abroad to Canada by offering them permanent residency.
Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said Thursday the move will put Canada ahead of its competitors, such as Australia, the United Kingdom and United States, where entrepreneurs are offered only temporary residency, and their ultimate status hinges on business success.
“Our new Start-Up Visa will help make Canada the destination of choice for the world’s best and brightest to launch their companies,” said Kenney, who is planning a trip to Silicon Valley, the world’s start-up capital, to find foreign entrepreneurs looking for a permanent home.
“Recruiting dynamic entrepreneurs from around the world will help Canada remain competitive in the global economy.”The new program, which will accept applications starting April 1, will link immigrant entrepreneurs with private sector organizations in Canada that offer support and resources for their ideas. Candidates must be sponsored by Canadian investors.
Review panels struck by Citizenship and Immigration will assess the applicants.
In addition to a sound business plan, applicants must meet an intermediate language requirement in English or French, possess one year of post-secondary education and pass the necessary medical and criminal checks.
Kenney said the five-year pilot program will accept 2,750 applications a year and be made permanent if the government is satisfied with the results. Applications are expected to be processed within one year.
“Canada’s future relies on today’s entrepreneurs,” said Kenney.The initiative is an evolutionary leap from Canada’s archaic entrepreneur program, which had been in place since the 1970s by offering conditional residency to foreign entrepreneurs who opened mall kiosks, corner stores and small businesses.
Immigrant entrepreneurs admitted to Canada dropped sharply to 184 in 2011, down from 1,176 in 2002. In anticipating Thursday’s changes, the government stopped accepting new applications in July to control the existing backlog in the federal entrepreneur program. There are no plans to lift the moratorium.
January 24, 2013