Canada (Photo credit: palindrome6996)

The federal government recently announced a new Start-Up Visa Program geared toward recruiting innovative immigrant entrepreneurs who will help create new jobs and support economic growth.

Start-Up Visa Program

Beginning April 1, 2013, the new program will link immigrant entrepreneurs with private sector organizations that have experience working with start-ups.  These relationships will be created to help entrepreneurs navigate the Canadian business environment and launch innovative companies that employ people in Canada.

What is Required?

Foreign entrepreneurs will require the support of a Canadian angel investor group, venture capital fund or a business incubator before they can apply to the Start-Up Visa Program. They must also meet the language proficiency and educational requirements of the program.
Initially, Canada’s Venture Capital & Private Equity Association and the National Angel Capital Organization will be partners in the program, and only members of these organizations will be able to participate in the program at its outset. These partner associations will help the federal government ultimately determine which of their members should be eligible for the visa program.

How to Apply

Applications open on April 1, 2013 with the pilot program running up to five years. Those interested in applying should visit the Citizenship and Immigration Canada website for more details.

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Mexico among countries deemed ‘safe’ by Canada immigration

Map showing origin countries of refugees /asyl...
Map showing origin countries of refugees /asylum seekers (= people fleeing abroad) in 2007 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Eight new countries have been added to Canada’s list of nations that are considered safe for refugees, including Mexico, Iceland, Israel (excluding Gaza and the West Bank) and Japan, triggering renewed criticism from refugee advocacy groups and human rights lawyers.
The government’s latest announcement means 35 countriesare now considered safe. Countries from the original list include Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Hungary and Slovenia.
The designation of safe country means these countries are able to protect their nationals from discrimination and any asylum claims from these nations will become part of a new expedited process, according to the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration.
Immigration Minister Jason Kenney made the announcement late this week and it becomes effective as of Feb. 15, 2013.
“Faster processing of asylum claims from generally safe countries is an essential feature of Canada’s new faster and fairer refugee system,” the minister said in a news release.
“Our new system provides protection more quickly to genuine refugees, while removing individuals whose claims are rejected from the country faster.”
But many refugee advocacy groups are critical of the safe country list, including the Canadian Council for Refugees. “Discriminating between refugee claimants based on the country they are from is unfair,” said Loly Rico, president of the Canadian Council for Refugees.
“Having a shorter time to prepare their stories and no opportunity to appeal means there can be more mistakes.”
The inclusion of Mexico on the safe country list also rankles Rico. “In recent years, Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board has clearly recognized that Mexico is not safe for some of its citizens,” she said. “It will now be more difficult for people like these to find protection in Canada.”
The addition of Mexico to the list of safe countries is contradicted by abundant evidence of the lack of safety for many Mexicans — some of whom have come to Canada and sought refugee status, said Audrey Macklin, law professor at the University of Toronto.
The acceptance rate for Mexicans last year was 20 per cent, which suggests a significant number of claims met the definition of refugee, Macklin said. Adding Mexicans to the list adds “procedural obstacles which have the effect of making it more difficult for them to get a fair hearing.
“If people don’t get a fair hearing, it’s more likely their claims will be rejected,” said Macklin. “Under this system, if rejected they’re denied access to an appeal and that compounds the unfairness.
“To add insult to injury, a higher rejection rate will then be used as evidence, fulfilling the prophecy that their claims are not genuine to begin with.”
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Why Canada could see a boom in immigration—from the U.S.

Every four years, like clockwork, disillusioned Americans make the same tired threat: if their presidential candidate of choice doesn’t win, then, screw it, they’re moving to Canada. While the vast majority of them don’t, there has been a measurable increase in the number of both American and British immigrants coming to Canada over the last decade. Now those increases could pick up even more, thanks to achange in Canada’s immigration rules.
Canada’s new Federal Skilled Worker Program kicks in on May 4. Like the old immigration rules, potential immigrants get points for certain characteristics. The passing grade is still 67 out of 100, but the government has altered how many points each trait is worth. As a result, Yanks and Brits will have an advantage—as will Aussies, Kiwis, the French, anyone from an English- or French-speaking nation. For some, particularly older immigrants who don’t speak either official language well, immigration to Canada through this program will become next to impossible. But for others, like our southern neighbours, it’s about to get a lot easier.

That said, the other big changes to the new system relate to age, and if you’re older you could lose more than you gain. The age category has been boosted by two points and, more importantly, the target age range lowered. Previously, applicants could get the full 10 points if they were 49 or younger. That number has dropped dramatically to 35. And the work experience category, which benefits older immigrants, has been reduced from 21 points to 15. So, if you’re an experienced, 48-year-old American, you just lost 16 points—more than you’ll gain with the new language bonuses.
The emphasis on language provides the biggest boost. The category is now the most crucial, worth 28 points—an increase of four. But that’s only half the story. In an e-mail exchange, Citizen and Immigration Canada explained that points given for bilingualism have been cut in half, from eight to four, due to a “lack of evidence that second language ability contributes to positive economic outcomes for the majority of applicants.” In other words, an English-only-speaking American now receives up to 24 points instead of 16—an eight-point increase. And five extra points are now given in the adaptability category (worth a total of 10 points) if your spouse is fluent in English or French. So if you’re a married American, you could gain 13 more points. Easy peasy.
But for young Americans, moving to Canada will be much easier than before. The U.S. is typically our fourth biggest source of immigrants, followed closely by the U.K., each representing almost 10,000 new permanent residents per year. American numbers spiked somewhat during the recession, but both countries have been warming up to Canada over the last decade. In the early 2000s, between 5,000 and 6,000 new immigrants typically came in each year per country. By 2010, those numbers shot up roughly 40%, following, for the most part, yearly increases (see chart, above).

As you can see, there’s already a trend of Americans and Brits increasingly relocating to Canada (and to a lesser extent, the French). People want to move here—and for the ones already most similar to us, the Harper government just made it easier. That by itself is reason to suspect the increase we’ve already seen will continue—and could even spike.

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