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Alternative options preferable to Start-Up Visa program

As a result of the “bureaucratic hurdles” involved with the federal government’s pilot project aimed at attracting immigrant entrepreneurs to Canada, Toronto immigration lawyer Andrew Carvajal tells The Lawyer’s Daily that his firm chooses to navigate different avenues for these clients.

As the article notes, the Start-Up Visa program was launched as a five-year pilot project in 2013, allowing entrepreneurs looking to launch a company in Canada to apply for permanent resident status if a Canadian company invests in it or they were accepted by a business incubator. The program is scheduled to become permanent in 2018.

The Lawyer’s Daily reports that government statistics show 117 principal applicants have been approved for permanent residence, representing 68 startups launched in Canada with the help of the program.

Carvajal, a partner with Desloges Law Group, tells the Start-Up Visa program was supposed to be an appealing option which involved little risk on the part of the government, as those applying for permanent residence would be receiving financial and other backing from a well-established angel investor or organization in Canada.

“We were very excited about this program and many immigration practitioners started using it as a selling point in their practice amongst those seeking to come to Canada as business people. What we soon learned was that it is a very difficult program to navigate, making it, in my view, unappealing."

The biggest hurdle with the Start-Up Visa program, he says, is finding the backing of the angel investor or organization that will support the business proposal.

“I have heard the application itself can involve bureaucratic hurdles. The fact that the number of approved applications stayed very low and, in fact, only 117 applications have been approved under the five-year pilot confirmed my decision that it was not worth my or my client’s time and money,” he says.

Instead, says Carvajal, his firm primarily focuses on the provincial entrepreneur programs and obtaining temporary work permits for clients with the objective of eventually transitioning them to permanent residence.

“Examples could be opening subsidiaries of their foreign companies in Canada, navigating the investor programs of free trade agreements between Canada and other countries, and applying for Labour Market Impact Assessment for those who have purchased Canadian businesses.

“Unless I see or hear that the Start-Up program has significantly changed and is being streamlined, I would likely continue to offer other alternatives to my clients,” he says.

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