Does Canada need a Startup Visa?

Reversing the brain-drain should be a priority for the Canadian government and Bootup Labs’ Danny Robinson has a solution.

Earlier today on the Bootup Blog, Robinson pleaded that we try to make Vancouver (and Canada) an easier place for entrepreneurs to set up shop. He notes that the startup community in the US is rallying behind a Startup Visa concept that would streamline the immigration of foreign startup founders. The idea is picking up some steam with VCs Paul Kedrosky and Brad Feld penning a pretty convincing argument in the Wall Street Journal last week called Start-Up Visas can Jump-Start the Economy. Here’s how it could work:

One good idea to make this process easier is to create a new visa for entrepreneurs, something that is increasingly being called by venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, and angel investors a “start-up visa.” It might work like this: If immigrant entrepreneurs want to start a company in the U.S. and are able to raise a moderate amount of money (perhaps as little as $125,000) from an accredited U.S.-based venture capital firm or qualified U.S.-based angel investors, we should let them start a company here. It could be a couple of founders with an idea—that’s it. We would give visas to the founders and welcome them in to our country.

Would it work every time? Of course not. It would fail more often than not. Start-ups often fail.

But having failed, the immigrant entrepreneurs could try again, and again. And as long as they are trying, raising money, creating jobs, and making sales, we would let them stay here. Founders of new companies are precious for a vibrant economy, and we should welcome them. Indeed, the country would be better served to find more of them.

In his post Robinson suggests that Canada beat the US to the punch and create its own version of the Startup Visa that looks something like this:

  1. VC Firms and Investors apply to become “Sponsors”
  2. Founders apply to Immigration Canada along with an accepted Term Sheet from the pre-approved VC Firm
  3. A temporary work visa is approved for the founders with certain conditions:
    1. They incorporate a company within X days of Landing in Canada and become employees of that company.
    2. They close on the financing.
    3. They cannot work for another company.
    4. They can apply for a more permanent status after a “probationary period” of some amount of time.

Of course, Robinson is in a unique position with regards to this very problem as Bootup will sooner or later welcome a foreign founder into its Lab.

So, what do you think? Does Canada need a Startup Visa? Sign this online petition to let Bootup Labs know.