Canada has long been an attractive place for the world’s most valuable entrepreneurs, but a new report has revealed that there are some challenges ahead.
The report, authored by the Canadian Association of Venture Capitalists (CVC), estimates that Canada’s current entrepreneurs visa program is not a perfect system and will be at risk of falling short of the international standard, which will force the government to rethink its visa rules.
“The existing business visa program has not been perfect, but it is well-managed and has allowed for the creation of new, more efficient and secure visa programs,” CVC CEO Rob McRae said in a statement.
McRae also said the current program is being managed by the Ministry of Innovation and Science (MIC), which has not adequately prepared for the current economic downturn.
“The government must invest in its business immigration program and ensure that it remains in place to meet the needs of Canada’s global entrepreneurial community,” McRaea said.
“While the current immigration program is very well managed, the MIC needs to do more to address the needs and vulnerabilities of the existing business immigration programs, including to provide better training for visa applicants and to ensure that businesses do not have to pay back their investments.”
“Visa applications are processed through the National Investor Immigration Program (NIIP), which is a program that has been in place for over a decade and was designed to streamline the application process, facilitate immigration to Canada and create more employment opportunities for Canadians.”
McRsae also urged the government “to do more” to ensure the safety of entrepreneurs in the country, particularly in the case of companies with foreign operations.
CVC has set out a number of recommendations that would make the country more attractive to Canadian entrepreneurs, including: Creating a permanent business visa lottery that will allow entrepreneurs to compete for a limited number of visas.
The lottery would be open to Canadian citizens, permanent residents, permanent visitors and permanent residents with at least one year of experience in Canada.
Introducing a business visa fee, allowing companies to pay $1,000 for a business license.
The fee would be based on the number of applicants, but the average fee would increase to $500 for a full-time employee and $500 a day for a part-time worker.
Creating an incentive to create new business visa programs.
The current business visa is currently limited to foreign nationals who have completed a minimum of 10 years of business in Canada and who have established at least three Canadian-based businesses.
The CVC report also proposes creating a new “small business visa” program that would give Canadian entrepreneurs the opportunity to become eligible for a new visa if they have a minimum number of Canadian-related companies in place.
“With a small business visa, the Government can reward Canadian entrepreneurs with the opportunity for more time in Canada to build their businesses,” the CVC says.
It’s not the first time that the country’s current business immigration rules have been questioned.
In 2014, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) released a report that said the government was not doing enough to make sure businesses are not paying back their investment.
Earlier that year, the CFIB also criticized the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) for charging companies that applied for a visa $10,000 to $15,000 in processing fees to help pay for the process.