Canadian Government Officially Makes Call to Foreign Startups for New Startup Visa Program

Canada’s federal government is officially making their call for the world’s best and brightest entrepreneurs, as applications for the new startup visa program will now be accepted.

Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney and the federal government issued a news release Thursday, proclaiming that Canada is open for business.

“Innovation and entrepreneurship are essential drivers of the Canadian economy,” said Kenney. “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.”

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The federal government said that this is the first program of its kind in the world. By fuelling the program with resources, business mentors and most importantly, permanent residency, the Conservatives are hoping to make Canada a first-class choice for the world’s high potential foreign startups.

The program is a pilot program that will run for five years. The number of accepted applicants will be “limited” initially although the government hasn’t specified an exact number.

“With our new start-up visa, we are opening the door to new and exciting opportunities for Canada’s economy to grow and prosper,” added Kenney. “This is part of our government’s transformational changes to Canada’s immigration system that will make it fast, flexible, and focused on Canada’s economic needs.”

In order to apply for the program an entrepreneur or startup must first have secured a minimum investment of $200,000 if the investment comes froma designated Canadian venture capital fund or $75,000 if the investment comes from a designated Canadian angel investor group. Applicants will also need to meet general program requirements, such as language proficiency and academic experience.

When the program was initially announced a few months ago two umbrella organizations were chosen to select those designated firms: Canada’s Venture Capital and Private Equity Association (CVCA) and the National Angel Capital Association (NACO). The designated venture capital and angel firms were also announced on Thursday, including BDC Venture Capital, iNovia Capital, OMERS Ventures Management, Rho Canada Ventures, Version One Ventures and others. Meanwhile three angel networks were selected: Angel One Network, Inc., First Angel Network Association and Golden Triangle Angel Network.

According to the federal government venture capital fund had to be a full member in good standing of the CVCA. VC funds that met this criterion and manage over $40 million in capital were automatically eligible to participate. VC funds that manage less than $40 million had to apply to the CVCA to participate in the Start-Up Visa Program.

Angel networks wishing to apply similarly had to be a member of NACO and they were assessed on a number of criteria like the level of deal flow in the past year, evidence of a thorough due diligence process, and evidence that all members of the group are accredited investors.

Photo: Adrian Wyld, The Canadian Press