Changes to the Start-Up Visa Program

On October 25, 2013, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (“CIC”) amended the Start-Up Business Class, and announced that the changes will take affect on October 26, 2013.   The previous Ministerial Instructions respecting the program have been repealed.

The Start-Up Business Class is a federal economic immigration program, and compliments the Federal Skilled Worker Class, the Canadian Experience Class, the Provincial Nominee Class, and the Federal Skilled Trades Class.  The Start-Up Business Class will be open until March 31, 2018.

Program Requirements

A foreign national will be eligible to apply to the Start-Up Business Class if they meet all of the following requirements:

  1. The foreign national has obtained a commitment from either:
    1. a designated business incubator confirming that it is accepting the foreign national’s qualifying business into its business incubator program;
    2. a Designated Angel Investor Group of at least $75,000 in a “qualifying business” or two or more Designated Angel Investor Groups that together will be investing a total of at least $75,000 in a business; or
    3. a Designated Venture Capital Fund of at least $200,000 or two or more designated venture capital funds that together will be investing a total of at least $200,000 in the qualifying business.
  2. The foreign national has taken an English or French language test and obtained a minimum of Canadian Benchmark Level 5 in Speaking, Listening, Reading, and Writing.
  3. The foreign national has completed at least one year of post-secondary education.  Completion of a credential is not required.
  4. The foreign national has in the form of transferable and available funds, unencumbered by debt and other obligations, an amount that is equal to one half of the Statistics Canada low-income cut off.

Up to five foreign nationals can apply under the same business.  A qualifying business will generally be a corporation that is carrying on business in Canada in which each applicant (up to that maximum of 5) holds 10% or more of the voting rights attached to all shares, and no  person other than a visa applicant holds 50% or more of the total voting shares of the corporation.  (An unincorporated business can still qualify if its incorporation is conditional on the issuance of a permanent resident visa to one or more applicants in respect of the business.)

People considering applying with other foreign nationals in one business should be aware that if CIC refuses a permanent resident visa to one applicant in a business, then all other applicants in the business will also be refused visas.

List of Designated Incubators, Designated Angel Investor Groups, and Designated Venture Capital Funds

CIC has released the list of Designated Angel Investor Groups and Designated Venture Capital Funds.  They are:

Designated Incubators

Communitech
GrowLab
Innovacorp
Innovate Calgary
Toronto Business Development Centre (TBDC)

Designated Angel Investor Groups

Angel One Network Inc.
First Angel Network Association
Golden Triangle Angel Network

Designated Venture Capital Funds

Advantage Growth (No.2) L.P.
BDC Venture Capital
Blackberry Partners Fund II LP (d.b.a. Relay Ventures Fund II)
Celtic House Venture Partners Fund III L.P.
Celtic House Venture Partners Fund IV LP
DRI Capital Inc.
Golden Opportunities Fund Inc.
INOVIA CAPITAL INC.
Lumira Capital
MaRS Cleantech Fund LP
New Brunswick Innovation Foundation Inc.
Northwater Intellectual Property Fund
OMERS Ventures Management Inc.
Ontario SME Capital Corporation
Panagea Ventures Fund III, LP
PRIVEQ III Limited Partnership
PRIVEQ IV Limited Partnership
Quorum Investment Pool Limited Partnership
Quorum Secured Equity Trust
Real Ventures
Rho Canada Ventures
Rogers Venture Partners, LLC
Summerhill Venture Partners Management Inc.
Tandem Expansion Management Inc.
Vanedge Capital Limited Partnership
Version One Ventures
Wellington Financial LP
Westcap Mgt. Ltd.
Yaletown Venture Partners Inc.

More information about the Start-Up Business Class can be found here.


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