Where skills flourish – Canada’s unique offering

In conversation with the Honorable Gerry Weiner, former Minister of Immigration & Citizenship of Canada and Executive Director, Global Relations, Partnerships, and Customer Satisfaction, APS Global Partners

The Honorable Gerry Weiner was the Minister of Immigration and Citizenship for Canada in the 1980s when the country’s Immigrant Investor Program was first established. It was an immigration programme that offered Permanent Residency status in Canada for making an investment with the government of Canada. The programme ran unabated for almost 20 years. It was hoped that investors would make further business investments once they arrived in Canada.

What has become clear through time is that most countries that seem to have an interest in citizenship-by-investment are quite happy to get the money and grant residency and citizenship, but show very little interest in having the individual come and do something, with the exception of the United States, which developed the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa Program.

The Start-up Visa Program, which was launched in Canada more recently, looks at an individual’s business background and how they accumulated their wealth. It’s been extremely successful.

It is especially interesting for African business people because of the opportunities Canada offers for developing and scaling their businesses in a stable and dynamic market. The environment is very beneficial for entrepreneurs and those with innovative ideas. In some countries where you have a huge talent base such as Nigeria, some entrepreneurs can’t always find a niche, and Canada offers numerous opportunities.

During the time Gerry Weiner was a minister, he made three ministerial trips to Africa. He always thought that the huge and growing diaspora should be of great benefit to Africa itself, with individuals who are successful in their new countries coming back contribute, whether by investing back home or through the sharing of knowledge and strengthening of ties. It hasn’t quite happened to the extent that he had anticipated, but it will, with time.
Canada attracts interest because of its geographical location, right beside the United States. But Weiner, who has studied growth, opportunities and the benefits of immigration, believes that Canada’s attributes are actually much more far-reaching.

Firstly, the country is endowed with huge natural resources, and because of its diversified economy, this means that there are opportunities arising in numerous sectors. There is a clear spirit of innovation and there are outlets for those with ideas and offering new technologies.
And this is why Canada’s focus today is not on attracting immigrants through golden visas but rather by encouraging skilled talent and investors to come to Canada and actually contribute to building a thriving business. If you’re trying to grow your economy, you want people to put bricks and mortar in the ground, he says.

Money alone is not going to do it, he explains. To create that virtuous cycle of growth and opportunities your immigration policies need to be focused on hiring talented people; it is this that leads to positive transformative change.

Every year, Canada welcomes the equivalent of about one percent of its population through immigration and refugee schemes. Weiner feels there is space to do a lot more.
He believes that there should be one million immigrants and refugees coming to Canada every year, an opinion he shares with former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. Some people think they’re crazy, but they’ve seen the positive contribution immigrants can make if policies are smart. The numbers speak for themselves in terms of development, they argue.
Every immigrant community, when they’ve been allowed to participate fully, makes a massive contribution to the economy over one or two generations. Canada’s diversity has been consistently growing and there is equality of opportunity for all. It’s a major strength within the country. 

Weiner also draws attention to the country’s size. Canada is a huge country, he says, the second or third largest in the world. Population density stands at three people per square kilometer, compared to Asia, where some countries have a density of 150 people per square kilometre.

Weiner is not surprised that the investment-related residency and citizenship industry has become as competitive as it has. He feels that there have been many positive developments, but countries cannot be short-termist, and effectively be selling their passports to the highest bidders. There needs to be a long-term strategy that is mutually beneficial, both to the host country and also to those making the investments. Weiner should know; he launched the Canadian Immigration Investment Programme in the eighties. 

Weiner speaks very enthusiastically about Canada’s Start-up Visa Program, which offers Canadian permanent residence to qualified immigrant entrepreneurs. It’s aligned to the country wanting to continue playing a leading role globally as one where innovation reigns and where the entrepreneurial ecosystem, in terms of a skilled workforce, access to capital, and an open-market economy, make it highly compelling.
Today Canada is one of the leading players offering the Start-up Visa, having grasped early on the role start-ups are playing in the economy.

And it’s a win-win, he argues. A second passport can open many doors. In some countries, you have a large, educated population with limited opportunities. So smart immigration schemes like the one provided through the Start-up Visa Program make sense.

For the welcoming country the Start-up Visa Program brings a diversity of ideas and perspectives, and for the entrepreneur, a real opportunity to develop one’s ideas and business. As Weiner puts it: “It grows the economy, it adds new impetus, and you can reach and grow in parts of your country that are currently being underserved.” 

Weiner explains that the Start-up Visa Program was launched as a pilot in 2013, and thanks to its great results has become one of the best options out there. It has added appeal because it is one of the best options to achieve permanent and irrevocable residency status.
Israel, Russia and the United States have their own schemes, but Weiner thinks Canada has a lead over those countries. The country is not only attractive, with a great quality of life and great social services, but it benefits from an open society and progressive economy which is ideal for entrepreneurs


APS Global Partners – Start-up Visa experts
Over 1,600 visas have been issued via the Canadian Start-up Visa Program since 2013. APS Global Partners, a company where Gerry Weiner acts as Executive Director, Global Relations, Partnerships, and Customer Satisfaction, specialises in such services. It has helped many applicants, providing them with independent advice and has helped many clients to achieve Permanent Residence status.

The Start-up Visa Program is pretty unique. America’s EB-5 might resemble it in some ways, but it’s far more expensive – nearly five times the cost. Start-up Visa Canada looks at individuals and their families as well as the creativity and innovation of their plans to determine whether they are suitable.

APS Global Partners assists clients in selecting, preparing, and polishing a prospective business concept. Its services include everything from reviewing the business plan to assessing the probability of acceptance, going above and beyond to find new possibilities for clients to grow their businesses in Canada.
The company works with Canadian immigration lawyers and consultants to obtain a Letter of Support from a Designated Organisation authorised by the Government of Canada. Once a Letter of Support is issued an Application for Permanent Residence can be filed. Having Weiner on board has helped clients. Weiner, through his in-depth knowledge and unique experience, provides invaluable assistance and counsel helping applicants to meet the requirements of the Start-up Visa Program.