In the last few weeks, I have been contacted by dozens of
applicants whose start-up visa work permit applications have been refused,
leaving them in shock and uncertain as to why IRCC is refusing their
The main ground for refusing most of these applications has
been that they have followed IRCC’s own clear instructions to use the LMIA
exemption code for “Significant Benefit” and stated that the Employer Portal
will automatically populate the required LMIA exemption code. This exemption
code that is automatically populated is C10.
These instructions were contradicted by other information on IRCC’s website that stated the exemption code is A75. However, once this issue was raised with IRCC, they assured applicants that they should use the C10 code when applying and that visa officers would make the necessary change in their system to allow for issuing of the work permits.
And for years, IRCC issued start-up visa work permits for applicants under this exemption code.
That is until Fall 2022. While the total numbers are not clear yet, since October 2022 there are dozens (possibly 100+) of start-up founders whose applications have been refused on the ground of “You have not sufficiently demonstrated that you meet the requirements of the exemption of significant benefit (C10) within the meaning described in section 205(a) of the Regulations.”
But these applicants had followed IRCC’s own instructions, so the refusal of their applications is unreasonable and procedurally unfair.
To make matters more interesting, IRCC changed the codes under section 205(a) as of 15 December 2022 (published on the IRCC website on the 16 December 2022).
Under the new codes, IRCC has created a unique code for Start-up visa work permit applications, A-77:
Is this the reason why so many innocent applicants were refused, so that IRCC can clear its backlog without giving applicants a chance to be fairly assessed?
Even if the exemption code was going to change, applications must be assessed based on the conditions at the time they submitted their application or at least be given the opportunity to make submissions to demonstrate that they meet the changed conditions.
I am already working with applicants to apply for leave and judicial review for these refused start-up work permit applications, and this change only adds to my concerns about the internal directive that led to these refusals in the first place.
If your start-up work permit application has been refused, we can help. Find out more here: Judicial Review of Refused Start-up Visa Work Permits (myvisa.law)