Recognising the importance of innovation and entrepreneurship as a driver of the Canadian economy, Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney has launched consultations on whether to create a new and specialised programme 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,’ he said.
‘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,’ he added.
Economic Action Plan 2012 highlights 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 Programmes, 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 programme 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 programmes that would allow CIC to try innovative approaches to economic immigration.
Under the proposed changes, the government could create new, short term programmes under the Economic Immigration Class. These programmes would be limited to no more than 2,750 applications per year and would end after five years. If a programme 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,’ Kenney confirmed.