In an Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) survey, Canada was ranked as the most attractive country for immigrant founders and entrepreneurs among 24 OECD countries, including the United States, France, and the United Kingdom. The OECD report shows that there is a growing global interest in attracting foreign entrepreneurs to create jobs through business innovation and to spur foreign investment and economic development, and Canada stands out as a leader. Canada is a hotbed for foreign entrepreneurs because it has taken a number of steps to create a favorable environment for new and innovative companies to thrive, including developing an entrepreneurial ecosystem, promoting research and innovation, and making it easier for prospective entrepreneurs to access funding and human capital.
One of the reasons for this environment is the ease of obtaining permanent residency. Canada, along with Australia, is one of the first countries to offer permanent residency to startup visa applicants from day one, making it a great choice for entrepreneurs. This has made it a very attractive place for immigrant entrepreneurs to settle, with favorable conditions for doing business. In addition, Canada offers a number of pathways to work permits and permanent residency for migrant entrepreneurs.
Immigration programs for entrepreneurs include the federal Start-Up Visa program, the Quebec Entrepreneur Program, and provincial entrepreneur programs. The federal Start-Up Visa program encourages immigrant entrepreneurs to grow their companies in Canada. Applicants who qualify for the program can connect with the Canadian private sector to get the funding and expertise they need to create and run their companies.
The Start-Up Visa program, as the name suggests, tends to focus on creative ideas for starting a business. This is because the program itself aims to attract innovative foreign entrepreneurs who will drive economic growth and create new jobs in Canada, so eligibility is less about what you already have in place, such as capital, and more about what you can do. In a nutshell, you need to have a qualifying business, have a letter of support from a designated organization, a language grade of CLB 5 or higher, and sufficient settlement funds based on the size of your family.
A business entity is a venture based on an innovative idea, and up to five equity holders may apply for permanent residence. The applicant's shareholding must be at least 10% of the total shareholding, and the applicant and the designated organization must jointly hold at least 50% of the voting rights of the corporation's total shares. As one of the requirements, the letters of support from the designated entities must come from venture capital funds, angel investor groups, and business incubator organizations that are eligible to participate in the Canadian Immigration's designated startup visa program. Through them, the applicant must secure funding for the startup, which requires a minimum investment of $20,000 CAD through venture capital and a minimum of $75,000 CAD through angel investment. In addition, the applicant does not need to secure investment from a business incubator, but must be accepted into the Canadian Business Incubator Program. On the other hand, as a startup, applicants don't have to invest any of their own money, and the big advantage is that if the Canadian startup doesn't succeed, they'll still have permanent residency status.
The startup visa program is relatively flexible. While there is a settlement fee requirement, there is no specific threshold for capitalization, as the main goal is to attract entrepreneurs with innovative ideas, so the program is relatively free from investment and capitalization constraints. There are also no residency restrictions, and immigrant entrepreneurs can even apply for a work permit to enter the country first if they have a valid reason.
Other options include the Quebec Entrepreneur Program, which is designed to help qualified business owners and managers obtain permanent residency in Canada if they can effectively create or acquire an agricultural, commercial, or industrial business in Quebec, and various entrepreneurial programs run by provincial governments. Most provinces welcome the immigration of qualified businesses and entrepreneurs because they are positive about entrepreneurs creating jobs and contributing to the economic vitality of Canada through start-ups. If you have the passion, ideas, and entrepreneurial flair, there are many avenues open to you to establish yourself as an entrepreneur in Canada with support.
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