Federal Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Ahmed Hussen announces the Start-up visa program's permanent extension at the Ryerson DMZ on July 28. (Photo courtesy Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada's Twitter page.)

Published: July 28th, 2017

A four-year-old pilot program aimed at helping immigrants launch startups in Canada is becoming permanent, the federal government announced Friday.

During a conference held at the Ryerson DMZ, federal Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Ahmed Hussen announced that the Start-up Visa program, established in 2013 to not only help immigrants launch new companies, but become permanent residents, will become a regular feature of Canada’s immigration landscape starting in 2018.

“Our government’s Innovation and Skills Plan has identified the nurturing of entrepreneurship and the growth of start-ups as vitally important to Canada’s present and future economy,” Hussen said in a July 28 statement. “Every company launched in Canada with the help of the Start-up Visa Program has the potential to be a big win for Canadians by providing middle-class jobs and strengthening our economy… making the start-up visa program permanent supports that agenda.”

The news was also announced on Twitter, with both Hussen and Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Navdeep Bains reaffirming the Liberal government’s commitment to pursuing a tech-friendly innovation agenda.

“Canadians benefit through the jobs that are created when entrepreneurs come from all corners of the globe to start businesses in this country,” Bains said in a July 28 statement of his own. “By making the Start-up Visa Program permanent, Canada will attract more innovative entrepreneurs who generate new business opportunities, create jobs and equip Canadians with the skills they need for the jobs of the future.”

Under the terms of the pilot, which is scheduled to expire on March 31, 2018, innovative entrepreneurs can apply to become permanent residents after a Canadian venture capital fund or angel investor group has made a significant financial commitment to their business idea, according to a government release, or after a business incubator program has accepted them.

The Ministry of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship (formerly Citizenship and Immigration Canada) plans to finalize regulations for a permanent version of program in the months ahead.

According to the government, a recent evaluation found the program was delivering on its goals, with more than 50 Canadian venture capital funds, angel investor groups, and business incubators now participating in the program, and participants receiving more than $3.7 million in investment capital.

It should be noted that while the government announced a $1.2 billion strategic innovation fund aimed at furthering its innovation agenda earlier this month, a new report by tech industry association CATA (the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance) found that reduced tax incentives cost the sector $5.3 billion between 2009 and 2016.

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