On March 30 2013 Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) published ministerial instructions that established the Start-Up Visa Programme (for further details please see "CIC announces Start-Up Visa Programme"). When initially established, the Start-Up Visa Programme included a venture capital stream and an angel investor stream. However, on October 26 2013 CIC published new ministerial instructions, which expanded the Start-Up Visa Programme to include business incubators. It also began accepting applications under this new stream on the same date.

Under the business incubator stream, CIC will designate eligible business incubator programmes in consultation with the Canadian Association of Business Incubation. At the present time, the following entities are eligible business incubators:

  • Communitech;
  • GrowLab;
  • Innovacorp;
  • Innovate Calgary; and
  • the Toronto Business Development Centre.

Under the existing Start-Up Visa Programme, designated angel investor groups must confirm that they are investing at least C$75,000 in the applicant's qualifying business. Similarly, designated venture capital funds must confirm that they are investing at least C$200,000 in the applicant's qualifying business. However, a business incubator must confirm only that it is accepting the applicant's qualifying business into its business incubator programme. Otherwise, the requirements of the business incubator stream are similar to those that apply to the angel investor and venture capital streams.

The new instructions also designated the following additional entities as eligible venture capital funds as of October 26 2013:

  • Canadian Accelerator Fund Ltd;
  • Lumira Capital;
  • MaRS Cleantech Fund LP;
  • Real Ventures; and
  • Rogers Venture Partners.

As the Start-Up Visa Programme is a pilot programme established under Section 14.1 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, no more than 2,750 applications may be processed a year. Section 14.1 also limits the duration of the pilot programme to five years.

As the Start-Up Visa Programme initially began accepting applications on April 1 2013, it will sunset on March 31 2018. However, if the pilot programme proves successful, the Canadian government may amend the act to established a permanent Start-Up Visa Programme before this date.

For further information on this topic please contact Henry J Chang at Blaney McMurtry LLP by telephone (+1 416 593 1221), fax (+1 416 593 5437) or email (hchang@blaney.com). The Blaney McMurtry LLP can be accessed at www.blaney.com.

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