Startup visa | BCBusiness

Startup visa | BCBusiness

A year after its announcement, the government begins offering permanent residency to foreign entrepreneurs selected by designated investors

Minister Chris Alexander was all smiles Wednesday as he welcomed the first two successful ‘start-up’ visa applicants, accepted under a program that grants immediate permanent residency to immigrants selected by designated investors.
 
The program, first announced in 2012, is open to foreign entrepreneurs who are able to secure funding from specified venture capitalists, early stage investors, or business development programs, like Growlab. Applicants must also meet certain language and education requirements.
 
Stanislav Korsei and Alexander Zadorozhniy, founders of Zeetl, an online customer service application that allows companies to engage with customers via social media, are the first to make it through the visa process. Both Ukrainian citizens, the duo participated in Growlab’s three-month mentorship and business development program last fall.
 
Tech-sector investors lobbied hard for the program, aimed in part at foreign entrepreneurs and high-skilled workers currently in the U.S. on temporary visas. “The [program] enables talented foreign entrepreneurs like Stanislav and Oleksandr to grow their businesses,” said Jonathan Bixby, executive director at Growlab.
 
The government, which began accepting applications for the program in April 2013, launched the new class of visa targeting skilled foreign entrepreneurs in the hopes of making Canada a hub for innovative early-stage companies.
 
As a pre-condition for applying, immigrant entrepreneurs must secure a minimum investment of $200,000 from one of the designated VC funds, or a minimum $75,000 investment from one of three angel-investor groups.