Canada Visa Scheme for Student Entrepreneurs

The Canadian  government has longing for  plans for a new visa route which will encourage budding entrepreneurs to stay on in the country.   The proposals, which will not come into effect probably by or around  2013, are thought to characterise an immigration policy which is prioritising quality over quantity.   Jason Kenney, the immigration minister, said  that reforms to the immigration system were working: “The first small signs of the beneficial effects of these policies are just beginning to show up, with a 11% fall in student visas and a 17% fall in work visas in the latest quarterly figures compared with a year previously.”   Mr Kenney  reiterated his intention to make the immigration system “sustainable”, making reference to the government’s decision to change the rules surrounding post-study visas. From April, not all international graduates will be able to stay and look for work. Instead, only those with a concrete job offer when they graduate can stay.  

MrKenney did, however, have in plans to announce a new visa route for international graduate entrepreneurs – described as “those international students who have engaged in supervised entrepreneurial activity during their university studies in Canada  and who want to stay on after their studies to develop their ideas”. This new selective visa category will enable recipients to remain in  Canada  for two years, and will be available from April 2013.   Said the immigration minister, “We have talked in the past about changes in the Points Based System. In the future it will be more accurate to talk about a contribution-based system. Whether you come here to work, study, or get married, we as a country are entitled to check that you will add to the quality of life in Canada.”  

The measures have been criticised in some quarters: opponents say that the curbing of students’ work rights will damage the education sector and its value to the economy.   Mr Kenney, though, defended the proposals: “There is scope for further examination of whether and to what extent foreign student tuition fees boost the Canadian economy and crucially how Canadian  residents ultimately benefit from that. We need a better understanding of the economic and social costs and benefits of student migration: from the point of view of the wider Canadian  economy, the education sector itself and the students themselves.   “There needs to be a focus on quality rather than quantity. The principle of selectivity should apply to student migration just as it does to work migration.”

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