Canada entices entrepreneurs to make themselves at home

The Canadian government has launched a new startup program that promises successful companies permanent residencies in return for creating innovative businesses.
Written by Michael Lee, Contributor on

Canada has launched a startup program that it hopes will attract the world's best entrepreneurs and encourage them to make the country its home, in more than the metaphorical sense.

The country's Start-Up Visa Program is billed by the Canadian government as the first of its kind in the world, as it not only provides entrepreneurs with the requisite local connections in the form of business partners, but also permanent residency should they meet certain requirements.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) is currently working with two local startup communities: Canada's Venture Capital and Private Equity Association, and the National Angel Capital Organization. These two organisations will recommend to CIC which startups should be eligible for the program in the form of a letter of support. The Canadian Association of Business Incubation is also slated to join the program.

There are a number of additional requirements that applicants will have to pass. These are proving the applicant can communicate in English or French to a minimum level, has completed at least one year of post-secondary education and held that study in good standing for at least one year, and has sufficient funds to support themselves and their dependants after arriving in Canada.

Previously, encouraging entrepreneurs to settle in Canada was achieved through its Federal Entrepreneur Program (FEP). However, the program, which was launched in the 1970s, was not achieving its goals.

The criteria for eligibility were quite basic, such as minimum net worth and business experience, and entrepreneurs only had to create a single new job within three years to be granted permanent residency. This attracted businesses that were the wrong fit for investors, and ultimately resulted in a freeze to the program in July 2011.

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