Applications Now Open for Canada’s Startup-Visa Program

Hello Entrepreneurs of the World,

It may be April Fools Day but this is no joke. As of today, Canada is now accepting applications from the world’s brightest entrepreneurs for their new Startup Visa Program. If you are serious about pursuing your entrepreneurial dream in one of the greatest countries on earth, the time is now.  The Startup Visa Pilot Program will run for 5 Years and applications will be limited.

Canada is open for business to the world’s start-up entrepreneurs,” said Minister Kenney. Innovation and entrepreneurship are essential drivers of the Canadian economy. 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.

To be eligible you need to:

  1. Demonstrate Canadian Language Proficiency in Benchmark 5 in listening, speaking, reading and writing.
  2. Have at least one year of education at a post-secondary institution
  3. Pitch your business idea and secure a minimum investment commitment of $200,000 from a designated Canadian Venture Capitalist or at least $75,000 investment commitment from an approved Canadian Angel Organization. The designated investors for the Startup Visa Program were approved by the CIC with the help of the Canadian Venture Capitalist Association and the National Angel Capital Association. It’s a solid group of experienced investors in good standing including Boris Wertz of Version One Ventures and Chris Arsenault from iNovia.  You can find the complete list of approved investors here.

Now you are ready to apply:

Once you have the knowledge and a financial commitment from a designated investor, you can apply for Permanent Resident Status under the Startup Visa Program. You can check out Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s (CIC) Website for more details or contact the CIC directly.

We’ve been dreaming of writing this post since we started this initiative and we are looking forward to welcoming you to Canada.

All the best,

The Startup Visa Canada Team

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The Skinny on the Startup Visa Canada Pilot Program

“Our new Startup Visa will help make Canada the desination of choice for the world’s best and brightest to launch their companies” – Canadian Immigration Minister Jason Kenney

On January 24, 2013, Citizenship and Immigration Canada announced it’s Startup Visa Pilot Program designed to draw innovative immigrant entrepreneurs to our great country. The pilot program will begin accepting applications April 1, 2013 and run for 5 years. To start, the Canadian government has alloted 2750 Visas per year for startup entrepreneurs and their families. If there is demand and early success, the program will become permanent.  

Canada’s Venture Capital and Private Equity Association (CVCA) and the Canadian National Angel Capital Organization (NACO) will help idenitfy and recommend qualified members to the CIC. VCs managing over 40-Million or more in assets will automatically qualify to back foreign entrepreneurs, who meet the criteria. Unlike other entrepreneurial visas in the UK or Australia, Minister Jason Kenney said at the press conference that eligible entrepreneurs under the Startup Visa Class will receive Permanent Residency in Canada upon acceptance. 

To be eligible, immigrant enterpreneurs at a minimum must:
  • Demonstrate Intermediate proficiency in English or French
  • Complete at least one year of post-secondary education
  • Receive a minimum funding commitment of $200,000CDN from a designated Venture Capital organization or $75000 from an approved Angel Investor.

According to the CIC’s website, the complete list of eligility criteria for immigrant entrepreneurs will be published in the Spring of 2013 and qualified investors will be announced soon.

We will post more information on our site as soon as it is published. Until then, stay focused, work hard and continue to build world class companies. 

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Canada Beats America to the Punch: Approves A Startup Visa for Immigrant Entrepreneurs

We are incredibly excited that Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), in partnership with the Canadian Venture Capital Association (CVCA) approved an official Start-Up Visa (SUV) pilot program for business class immigrants: the Start-Up Business class. The goal of the SUV program is to facilitate the immigration of a new type of immigrant entrepreneur to Canada with the potential to build innovative companies that compete on a global scale and create jobs for Canadians.

Photo Credit: Mars Discovery

To be eligible for the SUV program, a foreign entrepreneur would be required to have a commitment from a designated private sector organization (Canadian business incubator, Canadian angel investor group, or Canadian venture capital fund) before they could apply to the CIC with their immigration application.

How it all started

In 2009, two talented Romanian developers and co-founders of the Internet startup, Summify were accepted into the Bootup Labs accelerator program in Vancouver, BC Canada. With financial backing from accredited investors Bootup Labs (Danny Robinson and Boris Mann) and Boris Wertz, it was still challenging for the Romanian entrepreneurs to immigrate to Canada and build their business. Though frustrating, their immigrant journey inspired, in part, the formation of the Startup Visa Canada initiative and can be found here at
Photo Credit: Danny Robinson

Nothing is done alone
The SUV Canada campaign team started with just Boris Wertz, Danny Robinson and Maura Rodgers. In no time, the team grew to include Eric Brooke, Chris Arsenault, Mark MacLeod,David Crow and Mike Edwards and attracted the endorsement of over 60 technology leaders across Canada. In addition, Vision Critical donated free public research allowing the team to survey Canadians and establish that:

  • 86% of Canadians believed Canada could become a real hub of entrepreneurial activity in North America with the right policies in place
  • 72% thought Canada should act to stay ahead of the US in attracting entrepreneurial talent.

CVCA Endorsed Startup Visa
Through our advocate Chris Arsenault, the Canadian Venture Capital Association stepped up to endorse the initiative and partner with the Canadian government to fast track the first Startup Visa Program. Recognizing the importance of a Startup Visa, CVCA’s Executive Director Richard Remillard was a true champion of this campaign and worked tirelessly to move it forward. A big thank you to Richard for all of his support and hard work in making Startup Visa Canada a reality.

“We believe startups to be the driving force behind job creation and prosperity,” said executive director Richard Rémillard. “We need to be pro-active in attracting foreign entrepreneurs.”

Getting and staying ahead.
While we are very happy to beat our American neighbours to the punch, the work is not over. It is now up to the incubators, accelerators, angels and VCs to attract and  encourage the most talented entrepreneurs around the world to choose Canada as the best place to start and build their companies. After all, Canada has a lot to offer entrepreneurs including Universal Health care, a multi-cultural society, strong economy and is just a short flight away to thriving American tech hubs like NY or Silicon Valley.

More info:

CVCA Press Release [pdf]

Mission Accomplished – StartupVisa Canada by David Crow

Mission accomplished: Startup Visa Canada is here by Boris Wertz

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Canada designs new visa for immigrant entrepreneurs

Canada plans to create a new class of visa it hopes will attract high-tech and other entrepreneurs to immigrate to the country to start new companies, officials said Tuesday.

It has put a moratorium on issuing its existing entrepreneur visa, which only required an immigrant to hire one person for one year, and intends to initiate a visa that would be issued to people identified by venture capital funds as candidates to create startup firms in Canada. The venture funds would be required to invest in the startups.

The startup visa is one of several changes being undertaken by Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney in what he says is an effort to make the immigration system more responsive to Canada’s economic needs. “Canada seeks young, ambitious, innovative immigrants who will contribute to Canada’s job growth and further drive our economy,” said Mr. Kenney’s press secretary, Alexis Pavlich.

“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.”

Venture investment funds would choose entrepreneurs to invest in, and the government would try to clear them for entry into Canada within weeks. The idea is to unite Canadian money and foreign brains. An initial source of candidates could be frustrated foreigners in the high-tech sector in the United States who have not been able to land resident status there.

“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,” Ms. Pavlich said.

The program, expected to be unveiled in detail later this year, would set up external safeguards and spot checks to make sure the venture funds are investing as promised. The government will set aside 2,750 visas a year for startup entrepreneurs and their families. Last year it issued about 700 visas under the old entrepreneur class, under which an immigrant could do something as simple as buy a corner store and hire one person, and then get out of the business after a year.

Read more at the Globe & Mail

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We need YOU to act before September 4th 2012, yes that means you!

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) is pleased to invite you to participate in an online consultation on how a Canadian investor program can best support Canadian economic priorities.


The Economic Action Plan 2012 announced that business immigration programs will be reformed to target more active investment for Canadian growth companies.

Additionally, in April 2012, the Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, announced that Citizenship and Immigration (CIC) is considering whether it should use its authority under the amended Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) to create small short-term programs that can have a greater impact on Canada’s economy.


To this end, CIC is now inviting online submissions from stakeholders and the public on how the Department can:

·         Increase the economic benefit that immigrant investment capital brings to Canada;

·         Attract experienced, international investors with the skills and resources needed to ensure they integrate into Canada’s economy; and

·         Develop efficient and cost-effective ways of delivering an investment program.

You are invited to provide feedback by submitting a policy paper/recommendations for the Government’s consideration.  Prior to providing your input please read the background document (which is also attached for your reference).  Note that your submission could be published on the CIC website. 

In addition to this online consultation, CIC is also consulting with provinces and territories on changes to federal immigrant investor programming.

A highlight summary of the results will be published on the CIC website in winter 2013.

The online consultation will be available at until September 4, 2012.


Thank you in advance for your input.

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Immigrants Are Crucial to Innovation, US Study Says

A new study, showed that immigrants played a role in more than three out four patents at U.S top research universities.

Conducted by the Partnership for a New American Economy, a nonprofit group co-founded by Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York, the study notes that nearly all the patents were in science, technology, engineering and math, the so-called STEM fields that are a crucial driver of job growth.

New York Times Article, published 25th June 2012 By 

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Canadian Government launches consultations for a new ???start-up visa??? for immigrant entrepreneurs

Toronto, April 18, 2012 — Recognizing the importance of innovation and entrepreneurship as a driver of the Canadian economy, Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney launched consultations today on whether to create a new and specialized program to attract immigrant entrepreneurs.

The announcement is the latest in a series Minister Kenney has made about transforming Canada’s immigration system into a fast and flexible system focused on jobs, growth and prosperity.

“Our Government’s top priority remains jobs, growth and long-term prosperity. Canada cannot afford to lose out in the competition for foreign entrepreneurs among immigrant-receiving countries,” said Minister Jason Kenney. “We need to proactively target a new type of immigrant entrepreneur who has the potential to build innovative companies that can compete on a global scale and create jobs for Canadians.”

Economic Action Plan 2012 highlighted Canada’s commitment to supporting entrepreneurs, innovators and world class research. It also announced the Government’s intention to build a fast and flexible economic immigration system whose primary focus is on meeting the new and emerging needs of the Canadian economy. This will include changes to Business Immigration Programs, which will target more active investment in Canadian growth companies and more innovative entrepreneurs.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) intends to consult with industry associations in the development of a “start-up” visa program for innovative entrepreneurs in the coming months. Linking immigrant entrepreneurs with private sector organizations that have experience and expertise working with start-ups will be important as newcomers often require outside assistance in successfully navigating the Canadian business environment.

This “start-up” visa initiative is an example of the type of small-scale programs that would allow CIC to try innovative approaches to economic immigration. Under the proposed changes, the Government could create new, short-term programs under the Economic Immigration Class. These programs would be limited to no more than 2,750 applications per year and would end after five years. If a program proves successful during the five-year trial period and the Department wishes to maintain it, CIC would be required to formally introduce the new economic class in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations.

“Our Government is committed to strengthening the immigration system to make it truly proactive, targeted, fast and efficient in a way that will sustain Canada’s economic growth and deliver prosperity for the future,” said Minister Kenney.

From the media release which can be found here 


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Startup Visa Team

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