Kenney launches new visa program for foreign entrepreneurs

Published On April 1, 2013 | By | Business
Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, Jason Kenney. COURTESY Ministry of Immigration

Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, Jason Kenney. COURTESY Ministry of Immigration

By Doreen Dawang

The Canadian government is looking for the world’s brightest and most innovative entrepreneurs for a new startup visa program.

Starting Monday, the Startup Visa Program allows foreign entrepreneurs to fast-track permanent residency and gain funding from Canadian investors.

“Innovation and entrepreneurship are essential drivers of the Canadian economy,” said Jason Kenney, Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister, in a press release. “That is why we are actively recruiting foreign entrepreneurs – those who can build companies here in Canada that will create new jobs, spur economic growth and compete on a global scale – with our new start-up visa.”

Canada’s Venture Capital & Private Equity Association (CVCA) is one of two organizations that have partnered with Citizenship and Immigration of Canada to identify and designate the venture capital funds and angel investor groups that will participate in the program.

Richard Remillard, executive director of CVCA, told Humber News it’s a collaborative partnership with the Canadian government. He said CVCA’s role is to supply the minister with interested people who potentially qualify to participate.

“Entrepreneurs will go through a very extensive interview process prior to committing a large amount of money,” he said.

The foreign entrepreneur must first secure an investment of $200,000 from a Canadian venture capital fund or $75,000 from a Canadian angel investor group.

Applicants must also meet Canadian language proficiency requirements. Once applications for both funding and permanent residency are complete, the final decision is made by Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

“What we’re looking for is to bring to Canada entrepreneurs who are creating jobs because they are in the business of creating companies,” Remillard said.

“People with a really, really good idea, and who can blow away the competition.”

Boris Wertz, founder of Version One Ventures (VOV), a venture capital and angel firm who is on board with program, was also one of three who lobbied for Startup Visa. He said on VOV’s website that he was pleased to see this new initiative for entrepreneurs and increase Canada’s economy.

“This program is sure to raise Canada’s profile with the global technology community,” Wertz said on versiononeventures.com. “In addition, Startup Visa will create good Canadian jobs.”

The Startup Visa Program is a pilot program that will run for the next five years. Remillard said it will be under evaluation whether or not it will be made permanent.

“Ultimately, this is about employment in Canada,” Remillard said.

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