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Becoming 'economically established' in Canada

Wednesday, December 04, 2013    

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Dear Mr Brown:

I have a couple of excellent business ideas. However, I do not have sufficient funding to implement them. As a budding entrepreneur, it is difficult to impress the local banks and venture capital seems non-existent in Jamaica. Would it be possible to obtain investments from Canadian venture capitalists to set up a business in Jamaica?

DO

Dear DO:

I am sure it is possible to obtain funding from a venture capitalist or angel investor in Canada for a business in Jamaica. However, I can't go in details without knowing more about your plans. Also, it is not wise to discuss business ideas in a public forum, especially if it is a unique venture.

But should you have a good business idea, there is a way to obtain permanent residence in Canada based on investments made by venture capitalists and/or angel investors. In other words, one may become a permanent resident on the basis of their ability to become economically established in Canada as an innovative business person.

Canada seeks to establish a flexible and efficient immigration system for which the needs of the economy are paramount. Accordingly, the Start-Up Business Class (SUBC) Pilot Programme was set earlier this year as an immigration initiative to attract innovative entrepreneurs. The SUBC will run for five years. Due to the narrow focus of the programme, initially, the number of applications are expected to be low. However, its focus will be on the quality of the applications to successfully establish businesses in Canada. As such, the programme may be a good fit for people with good business ideas.

The objectives of the SUBC programme include:

* Linking foreign entrepreneurs with Canadian private sector partners (venture capital funds and angel investor groups) who have experience and expertise dealing with start-up businesses;

* Enabling immigrant entrepreneurs to create jobs in Canada and build innovative companies that can compete on a global scale; and

* Providing private-sector firms with access to a broader range of entrepreneurs, that is, the best and the brightest minds from around the world.

CRITERIA

There are mandatory criteria/restrictions, which include:

* A start-up business must be a new business intended to be operated in Canada and must meet the criteria to be a qualifying business;

* A Letter of Support and Commitment Certificate;

* Individuals must intend to reside in a province or territory other than Quebec;

* There are minimum language proficiency levels for listening, reading, writing and speaking in English or French;

* The completion of at least one year of post-secondary education; and

* The possession of sufficient funds to economically establish themselves in Canada.

There is a quota of no more than 2,750 applications per year and no more than five people per business proposal.

LETTER OF SUPPORT AND COMMITMENT CERTIFICATE

The Letter of Support and Commitment Certificate must show an agreement between the applicant and the investing entity to establish and incorporate a qualifying business in Canada, in which:

* The support of a designated Canadian angel investor group or groups with a minimum investment commitment of CDN$75,000 in a qualifying business; or

* Venture capital fund minimum commitment of CDN$200,000 in a qualifying business.

AN 'ESSENTIAL PERSON'

An essential person is a foreign national who is considered, by the investing entity, to be essential to the business being established under the programme. A section in the Commitment Certificate will identify which applicants in a group are deemed to be "essential". If the application for an essential person is refused for any reason, all other applications related to that commitment will also be refused.

PEER REVIEW

A peer review may be required as an independent assessment of a commitment by a panel of experts convened by the industry association that represents the lead investing entity on the Commitment Certificate. The peer review panel will only verify if the investing entity has conducted the proper checks and investigations according to industry standards, and will not give a judgement on the wisdom or feasibility of the proposal. This is a safeguard to protect the programme against fraud. The peer review process is designed to ensure that the deals made between private sector partners and foreign entrepreneurs are legitimate.

The designated entity that made the commitment will provide the peer review panel with a copy of their due diligence package. The review panel will not second guess the business decision, but will review the documents provided by the officer and the investing entity to ensure that proper due diligence was performed by the designated entity. The review process takes place in two situations: random sampling and where the visa officer identifies red flags.

Due diligence will be assessed by the designated entity and may be based, amongst other things, on the business plan and business model.

Should a business fail, one's permanent resident status would not be affected. It is recognised that not every business will succeed and the programme is designed for risk to be shared between the public and private sectors.

Antonn Brown, BA, (Hons), LLB, MSc, RCIC, is an immigration counsel, education agent and managing director of JAMAICA2CANADA.COM — a Canadian immigration & education firm in Kingston. Send questions/comments to jamaica2canada@gmail.com

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