Canada plans to create a new class of visa for immigrant entrepreneurs, specifically with the goal of attracting those in the technology sector to come to the country and start new companies. The plan is simple: venture investment funds choose entrepreneurs, the Canadian government tries to clear them for entry within weeks, and then the venture funds have to invest as promised. The broader mission is of course to boost the country’s economy.
“Canada seeks young, ambitious, innovative immigrants who will contribute to Canada’s job growth and further drive our economy,” Alexis Pavlich, Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney’s press secretary, told The Globe and Mail. “The startup visa is an initiative that the government of Canada is exploring to assist in transforming our immigration system into a fast, fair and flexible system that will meet the needs of our economy and help grow our country. This program will link brilliant, job-creating, immigrant entrepreneurs with Canadian investors. We want the world’s best and brightest to come to Canada – to start businesses and to create jobs in Canada.”
The Canadian government has put a moratorium on issuing its existing entrepreneur visa, which only required an immigrant to hire one person for one year, and plans to work through the years and years of applications it already has. The combination strategy will hopefully result in the clearing of the backlog by 2014 and then enabling new applicants to gain entry in months.
The program is expected to be detailed later this year. The government will set aside 2,750 visas a year for startup entrepreneurs and their families. In 2011, it issued about 700 visas under the old entrepreneur class.
At least initially, the new visa would target frustrated foreigners in the US who have not been able to land resident status. Canada already maintains the highest sustained level of immigration in the world, but keeping talent has always been a problem.
There are many stories of immigrants who come to Canada to work on a startup, but can only get limited-time visas. They may try to leave and return repeatedly, but eventually they give up as stability becomes more of a priority. Canada then loses that talent to other countries.
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