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CANADA: New Business Incubator Stream for Entrepreneurs

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) began accepting applications under Canada's new Business Incubator Stream on October 26, 2013. The Business Incubator Stream aims to attract entrepreneurs to Canada and connect them with accredited "business incubators." Introduced by Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Chris Alexander, the Business Incubator Stream forms part of the existing Start-Up Visa Program, which was launched on April 1, 2013, as a five-year pilot program with a maximum of 2,750 applications annually. The Start-Up Visa Program includes three streams: the Venture Capital Stream, the Angel Investor Stream, and now the Business Incubator Stream.

The new Business Incubator Stream, like the existing Venture Capital and Angel Investor Streams, features a major role for the private sector in the immigration process. To create the Business Incubator Stream, CIC partnered with the Canadian Association of Business Incubation, which designates business incubators. Interested entrepreneurs may apply directly to one of the designated business incubators, which include Communitech, GrowLab, Innovacorp, Innovate Calgary, and the Toronto Business Development Centre. Applicants may apply as single entrepreneurs or as teams of entrepreneurs with a maximum of five members. The designated business incubators provide business mentorship to selected start-ups, with the objective of permitting the start-ups to grow into sustainable businesses.

Under the Business Incubator Stream, the designated business incubators evaluate applicants' business proposals for viability, assessing their business plans, financial documents, founder biographies, and other relevant information. When the designated business incubators accept a proposal, they forward a letter of support to CIC in favor of the applicant's permanent residence application. Unlike the Venture Capital and Angel Investor Streams, the Business Incubator Stream does not require any financial investment by a third party. In addition to acceptance by a designated business incubator, applicants must meet certain program eligibility criteria, including the minimum requirements for language competency in English or French, minimum education requirements, and minimum settlement funds. Although the designated business incubators approve or refuse the business proposals, CIC makes the final decision on the permanent residence applications.

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