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Canada Launches A Startup Visa To Lure Entrepreneurs

Publication Date: 
April 11, 2013
Business Week - Bloomberg
Nick Leiber

Rock Center Fellow Vivek Wadhwa spoke with Nick Leiber from Business Week-Bloomberg on a new pilot program out of Canada, which allows foreign nationals with funding from a government approved list of venture capital firms to apply for immediate permanent residency, and the amount of jobs is could potentially create. 


Warning to Silicon Valley and Bangalore: Canada wants to poach your entrepreneurs. The country, which already has one of the world’s most open immigration policies, began accepting applications for a new visa for highly skilled entrepreneurs on April 1. Under the pilot program, foreign nationals with funding from a government-approved list of about two dozen Canadian venture capital firms or angel investor groups can apply for immediate permanent residency. “If a Canadian venture capitalist is going to invest in a startup, we’d rather that business [be located] in Canada than India or Silicon Valley or somewhere else overseas,” says Jason Kenney, Canada’s citizenship, immigration, and multiculturalism minister.

The country joins a growing list of nations, including Australia, Chile, and the U.K., that have recently introduced or revamped visas designed to woo foreign entrepreneurs. Unlike Canada, most only grant permanent residency once startups can prove they’re having a positive economic impact—an assessment usually based on the number of well-paying jobs created.


The law would create up to 75,000 visas for immigrant entrepreneurs who invest at least $100,000 in or raise that amount for their ventures. The Kauffman Foundation, a Kansas City (Mo.)-based organization that supports entrepreneurship, estimates that 500,000 to 1.6 million new jobs could be created as a result of the program over the next decade. "This can lead to tens of thousands of new startups," says Vivek Wadhwa, an academic and the author of The Immigrant Exodus: Why America Is Losing the Global Race to Capture Entrepreneurial Talent, in an e-mail. "It will do wonders for the economy without costing taxpayers a cent."