Ottawa's Startup Visa Program will fast-track new Canadians

An immigration lawyer in Windsor is praising new federal policy that would fast-track new Canadians into the country if they are aspiring entrepreneurs.

Entreprenuers and businesspersons could gain permanent residence within six months of applying

Immigration lawyer Eddie Kadri said new Canadians were caught in a bureaucratic and onerous system for years. (CBC News)

An immigration lawyer in Windsor is praising new federal policy that would fast-track new Canadians into the country if they are potential entrepreneurs.

The Startup Visa Program was first announced by Jason Kenney in late January but Finance Minister Jim Flaherty emphasized the policy Wednesday when he dropped the budget.

The program is designed to be a completely different and effective replacement of the Federal Entrepreneurial Program.

"We’re going after the best and brightest. I don’t think you can ever make a mistake when that’s the objective," Eddie Kadri said. "You have, essentially, a Dragon's Den philosophy but on a more narrow approach but on an international scale."

To be eligible, immigrant entrepreneurs 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 $200,000 from a designated venture capital organization or $75,000 from an approved angel Investor.

The program is designed to allow new Canadians permanent residence status more quickly.

"Business runs at a certain speed, and unfortunately with our immigration system, there was no recognition of that prior to this new program coming about," Kadri said.

Kadri said people were caught in "a bureaucratic and onerous system for years."

Windsor businessman Indrajit Sinha experienced that system first hand.  He founded his medical equipment company, Biomedcore, in 2011.  He was a former infectious disease researcher who worked in Detroit for years before becoming his own boss.

"It was scary," he said of the time following the launch of his start-up.  "There were days i went back home with tears in the eyes thinking, hey, what was I thinking?"

Attracting entrepreneurs will be easier with the new program, according to Sinha.

"As an immigrant, and especially as an entrepreneur, what you look for is a place that will offer the infrastructure and the network that is neccesary to be able to start," he said.  "A very important part of that is you have to belong to that place."

Approximately one quarter of Windsor's population was born outside Canada. It's one of the most diverse cities in Canada.

Flaherty called the program the first of its kind anywhere in the world.

"So that potential immigrants with the right skills can move here faster. So that new Canadians can integrate quickly and find and keep good employment or start successful businesses that add to Canada's prosperity," he said Wednesday.

Ottawa will work with Canada’s Venture Capital and Private Equity Association and the Canadian National Angel Capital Organization, which will act as "vetters" of the applicants.

The idea is that this will streamline process and make it more efficient for those who are legitimate entrepreneurs.

Kadri expects anyone who qualifies for the program would gain their permanent residence status in approximately six months.

"Six months, may still seem like a long period of time, but that’s light years ahead of what entrepreneurs were facing," he said.