The Canadian Start-Up Visa

June 12th, 2013 by Meliha Waddell

The Canadian Start-Up Visa

The Canadian Start-Up Visa: A bid to attract entrepreneurs with at least one year of post secondary education

In a bid to scoop up the world’s best and brightest entrepreneurs, the Government of Canada has recently introduced the Start-Up Visa Program, the first of its kind in the world. This program is meant to encourage individuals from across the world to live in Canada, plant their innovative ideas, and have them grow with the help of Canadian investors.

However, promising as it may sound, like any other visa application there are certain requirements that must be met in order to be considered eligible for the Start-Up Visa. These requirements differ from your typical visa application and there are two requirements in particular that deserve some attention, however, given the length of this blog, only one will be discussed in greater detail.

The Canadian Start-Up Visa
One significant requirement is that the applicant is able to show that his or her idea has been invested in by a designated Canadian venture capital fund or angel investor. You will need to have a support letter demonstrating that one of these designated investors is willing to commit the minimum required funding for your idea.

This alone is significant because it appears that the government is allowing the private sector to play a large role in deciding who should be able to enter the country. This requirement alone warrants another blog, but for this entry I want to focus on another requirement for Start-Up Visa applicants.

The other requirement that has caught my attention is that the applicant must have completed at least one year of post-secondary education and present proof that he or she was in good standing during at least one year while attending a post-secondary institution.

There are a couple of reasons why one might find these educational requirements slightly unusual. Firstly, one of the most notable entrepreneurs, Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple computers, dropped out of Reed College in Oregon after attending for only one term. Given Jobs’ education, under the requirements of Canada’s new Start-Up Visa application, he would not have been an eligible applicant. Although this is only one example it begs the question whether any time spent at a post-secondary institution should be a requirement as it is not necessarily an indicator of the work ethic of the individual or possible success in the future.

Secondly, what if the applicant’s idea had to do with the tech industry, however, she received one year of post-secondary education focusing on post-World War II American and British Poetry? (I actually took this course and thoroughly enjoyed it) Why would this make her a more qualified applicant than someone with an equally good idea for the tech industry, however, failed to do any post-secondary education? Given this example, if the government wants this education requirement, perhaps the education should in some way be linked to the field in which the entrepreneur wants to pursue.

Because of the potential to exclude bright and promising entrepreneurs due to their lack of post-secondary education, perhaps this requirement can be made more flexible and inclusive. For example, the government might state that if a Start-Up Visa applicant does not have post-secondary education, this requirement can be set aside if the applicant has five years of work experience, or the venture capital fund is willing to risk a substantial sum of money (an amount set by the government), indicating that they are very confident in the abilities of the applicant.

The Canadian Start-Up Visa Introduced To Attract International Entrepreneurs undoubtedly has the potential to bring some of the best and brightest entrepreneurs to our country. Given that this is the first visa of its kind in the world, however, it is understandable that it still may need to work out a few kinks.

For more information on the new Canadian Start-Up Visa Introduced To Attract International Entrepreneurs to live in Canada contact one of the Toronto Immigration Lawyers at Devry Smith Frank LLP or if you need help with any of Intellectual Property issues please contact Intellectual Property lawyers at Devry Smith Frank LLP.


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