Luring Entrepreneurs with Special Visas

July 10, 2013

In the business world, companies aren’t the only ones who are concerned with attracting top tier talent. Governments, too, have a vested interest in either retaining their most skilled individuals or attracting the best from elsewhere. After all, an innovative and educated workforce can only sustain itself by remaining desirable to other capable candidates. For countries like India, this means keeping doctors and engineers local so they can help a homeland in need rather than travel abroad for greater fortunes.

While experts like these are essential for society, other nations are attempting to lure an especially modern type of specialist to their shores—entrepreneurs. Countries such as Australia, Chile and the U.K. have all recently introduced new visa programs that grant residency to established, economically viable startups. But while this presents incentive for some businesses to relocate, it does little to foster a supportive environment for up-and-coming entrepreneurs. Nevertheless, those in the latter camp would do well to look to Canada as a land of opportunity: any foreign national receiving funding from a list of approved venture capital agencies is eligible for immediate permanent residency.

With one of the most open immigration policies in operation, Canada is already a welcoming place for people the world over. But with this pilot program, the nation is hoping to attract a young generation of entrepreneurs who would otherwise relocate to the Bay Area. It also increases the chances that investors will place their money into Canadian companies. “If a Canadian venture capitalist is going to invest in a startup, we’d rather that business [be located] in Canada than India or Silicon Valley or somewhere else overseas,” says Canada’s immigration minister. Over on the American side of the border, similar legislation has been introduced to Congress several times, but the issue has inevitably stalled due to conflict dealing with the larger issue of comprehensive immigration reform.



  1. Why do immigrants often excel at being successful entrepreneurs in the U.S.?
  1. Would it benefit the U.S. to adopt a startup visa similar to Canada?


Source: Nick Leiber, “Canada Launches a Startup Visa to Lure Entrepreneurs,” Bloomberg BusinessWeek, April 11, 2013. Photo by Meddy Garnet.