Canada Seeks to Attract Immigrant Entrepreneurs

CIC News
Published: April 16, 2013

In today’s globalized marketplace, one successful entrepreneur can revitalize the economy of an entire town, province, or even country. Whether large or small, entrepreneurs are an important key to the economic welfare of any community.

The Canadian government actively seeks to promote entrepreneurship as a tool for creating wealth, jobs, and vibrant financial systems. It has taken special care to open Canada to immigrant entrepreneurs who possess the ideas and skill sets needed to fuel the country’s next generation of growth.

Entrepreneurship in Canada Today

Canada is home to over 1 million small businesses, including many start-ups, which employ 48 per cent of the country’s total workforce. Of these small businesses, a mere 4.7 per cent ‘high growth’ organizations are responsible for 45 per cent of job creation in Canada. According to Industry Canada, such entrepreneurial ventures create approximately 130,000 new small businesses each year.

These figures tell an important story: that roughly half of the Canadian workforce is directly or indirectly supported by the work of entrepreneurs, and that the number is quickly growing. However, fostering an environment in which entrepreneurs can thrive takes hard work on the part of the federal government and its local counterparts. Thankfully, these organizations have stepped up to the plate.

In recent years, Canada has passed measures to encourage its levels of entrepreneurship. 2011 was declared “Year of the Entrepreneur” by Industry Canada, coinciding with a number of Federal initiatives. This action was followed in May 2012 with the creation of Startup Canada, a landmark organization dedicated to fostering grassroots entrepreneurs across the country.

Immigration has remained a cornerstone of the government’s entrepreneurship initiatives. In the global competition for the great innovators of the future, Canada has made it clear that it intends to be the leader in bringing these valuable immigrants to its borders.

“Canada’s future relies on today’s entrepreneurs,” said Immigration Minister Jason Kenney. “Recruiting dynamic entrepreneurs from around the world will help Canada remain competitive in the global economy.”

Immigration and Entrepreneurs

Some of Canada’s greatest business success stories have been immigrants. One prominent example is Mike Lazaridis, who immigrated from Turkey as a child. He went on to found RIM, a multinational company made famous for manufacturing the BlackBerry phone. The company today employs thousands of Canadians.

Seeking to harness talents similar to Lazaridis, the Government of Canada has a number of programs specifically dedicated to bringing in the ‘best and brightest’ immigrant entrepreneurs. On April 1st, the Entrepreneur Start-Up Visa program opened its doors to applicants. This ground-breaking program, the first of its kind in the world, links successful applicants with mentor organizations in Canada. In order to be eligible to apply, individuals must meet the following criteria:

  • Have received a letter of support from a government-designated organization;
  • Meet minimum language requirements in English or French (CLB 5 in all abilities);
  • Have completed at least one year of post-secondary education;
  • Have sufficient funds to settle in Canada;
  • Plan to settle in a province other than the Province of Quebec; and
  • Pass Canadian security and medical clearances

This is not the only potential route for entrepreneurs. Overseas companies looking to open a branch, subsidiary, or affiliate in Canada may secure temporary work permits for their employees in Canada through the Start-Up category of the Intra-Company Transfer program. These employees must be key members of the start-up venture in Canada. Some employees are able to leverage their temporary status into an application for Canadian Permanent Residency.

In addition, some Canadian provinces have created their own dedicated immigration categories to target entrepreneurs. Saskatchewan, for instance, issues Permanent Residence to entrepreneurs who act either as ‘large-scale investors’ in an enterprise or will pursue an idea in the fields of science and technology. Manitoba, on the other hand, supports prospective farmers who will open their operation in the province.

“Entrepreneurs with a clear vision for success will always be welcomed in Canada,” said Attorney David Cohen. “The Canadian government recognizes the high potential of these individuals, and understand that only by keeping the door open will they attract the world’s best thinkers and innovators.”

To learn more about provincial entrepreneur programs, please click here

To learn more about the entrepreneur start-up visa, please click here

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