Business planning, Growth

Canada launches new visa program for entrepreneurs

Michelle Hammond /

Australian entrepreneurs are among those being targeted by Canada, after the country announced its plan to develop a new immigrant start-up visa program.

 

Canada’s government is to consult with industry groups and immigrant settlement organisations across the country, in a bid to fast-track the immigration of entrepreneurs.

 

“Canada cannot afford to lose out in the competition for foreign entrepreneurs among immigrant-receiving countries,” Canada’s Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said earlier this week.

 

According to Kenney, immigrant entrepreneurs with an innovative business plan – in areas such as technology, energy and resources – can compete on a global scale and create jobs in Canada.

 

But unlike the former entrepreneur program introduced in Canada, Kenney said entrepreneurs will not be required to put up a minimum investment.

 

However, applicants must prepare a business plan, which will be examined by industry groups and venture capitalists for its viability.

 

On arrival, entrepreneurs will receive mentorship from organisations that have experience working with start-ups on how to do business in Canada.

 

“Newcomers often require outside assistance to successfully navigate the Canadian business environment,” Kenney said.

 

“Linking immigrant entrepreneurs with private-sector organisations that have experience and expertise working with start-ups [is therefore] important.”

 

Kenney is confident there are many wealthy entrepreneurs who see Canada as a better place to set up shop than their home countries, claiming entrepreneurs nowadays are “very mobile”.

 

Victoria Lennox, co-founder of advocacy group Startup Canada, has described the plan as innovative, mainly because it involves the business community identifying promising start-ups.

 

The program stands up against the initiatives of other countries, including that of the United States.

 

In the US, proposed legislation would allow an immigrant entrepreneur to receive a two-year visa if he or she can show that a qualified US investor is willing to help fund the venture.

 

However, the plan has been met with political resistance from groups that are worried immigrants will take jobs from unemployed Americans.

 

Over in Britain, a “prospective entrepreneurs” class of visa, introduced last year, allows immigrants to secure funding and start up before they begin the traditional visa process.

 

In Ireland, two programs – the Immigrant Investor Program and the Start-up Entrepreneur Program – were launched last month.

 

The first program will require applicants to invest between 400,000 and two million euros, depending on the level and duration of financial commitment.

 

The second program aims to foster new enterprises, for which the applicant will have to have financial backing of no less than 70,000 euros.

 

Meanwhile, New Zealand has created an “entrepreneur-plus visa”, which promises to fast-track immigrants who can invest at least $500,000 in a business and employ three people.

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