The upcoming Start-Up Visa Program for Entrepreneurs

The upcoming Start-Up Visa Program for Entrepreneurs

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) has just outlined the main features of the new program for foreign entrepreneurs willing to become permanent residents by starting a business in Canada.

The Start-Up Visa Program will link immigrant entrepreneurs with experienced private sector organizations that have expertise in working with start-ups.  The pilot will run for up to five years. CIC expects that due to the narrow focus of the Program, initially, the number of applications will be limited. However, the focus of the Start-Up Visa will be on the quality of the applicants and on establishing a track record of success, so that the Program can be expanded quickly to fill what we hope will be a growing demand. If the Program 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.

The initial partners envisioned by CIC are: , Canada’s Venture Capital & Private Equity Association and the National Angel Capital Organization.  CIC also continues to work with the Canadian Association of Business Incubation to include the organization in the Program as soon as feasible.

These umbrella organizations—through agreements with CIC—will recommend which of their members should be designated as eligible to participate in the Start-Up Visa Program, establish expert peer review panels to assist CIC officers in case determinations and provide assurance that industry standards of due diligence were followed.

The process of designating which Canadian angel investor groups and venture capital funds will be eligible to participate in the Start-Up Visa will begin early this year.  The process of designating which Canadian business incubators will be eligible to participate in the Start-Up Visa will begin at a later date.

Foreign entrepreneurs will require the support of a Canadian angel investor group, venture capital fund or a business incubator before they can apply to the Start-Up Visa Program.   They will also have to meet certain criteria regarding language proficiency and educational qualifications. The full set of criteria will be published in the spring of 2013.

The Program will open for applications on April 1, 2013.  We trust this is not a “poisson d’avril”…


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