Nearly two years into Canada’s highly touted Startup Visa program, a paltry five visas have been awarded. On April 1, 2013, Canada’s federal government officially made their call for the world’s best and brightest entrepreneurs.
“Innovation and entrepreneurship are essential drivers of the Canadian economy,” said Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney at the time. “That is why we are actively recruiting foreign entrepreneurs—those who can build companies here in Canada that will create new jobs, spur economic growth and compete on a global scale—with our new start-up visa.”
It was meant to be a five-year pilot program with a “limited” number of applicants—but today that limit has not come even close to being reached. Those involved in the program insist the small number doesn’t bother them, suggesting it’s the kind of thing that can’t be forced. Still, one has to wonder if there is a flaw with the program that is inhibiting potential.
Could the problem lie in the application process? In order to apply for the program an entrepreneur or startup must first have secured a minimum investment of $200,000 if the investment comes from a designated Canadian venture capital fund or $75,000 if the investment comes from a designated Canadian angel investor group. Applicants also need to meet general program requirements, such as language proficiency and academic experience.
The speed slow pace at which the process is followed due to red tape is a cause for concern while another theory points at a lack of truly quality applicants. Canadian venture capitalist Boris Wertz argues that, while applications are in fact going through “really smoothly,” the issue lies in the entrepreneurs on the other side, he suggested on Facebook.
Wertz commented online, ‘The real problem is that we have not yet seen many outstanding entrepreneurs apply.’
Five visas in 21 months is a shortcoming no matter which way you look at it, but Wertz remains optimistic about the remaining three years left in the program. “I hope this will change over time and I have seen some anecdotal evidence of late that it might,” he says.
Attorney Colin Singer Commentary:
Developments during the past years confirm the Conservative government lacks the willingness and required expertise to devise and manage a successful business immigration program.