In a recent judicial review, the Federal Court of Canada delivered a decisive ruling on May 10, 2024, in the case of Amirkeyvan Mousavimianji v. The Minister of Citizenship and Immigration. This case underscores the rigorous scrutiny applied to applications for Canadian work permits under the International Mobility Program, particularly those filed under LMIA-exempt categories targeting entrepreneurs.

Background of the Case

Amirkeyvan Mousavimianji, an Iranian entrepreneur, sought judicial review to overturn a decision made by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), which had denied his application for a work permit. Mousavimianji planned to establish “Kenyan International Student Advisor Services Inc.” in British Columbia, aiming to offer educational consulting services to international students. His application was refused on the grounds that he failed to demonstrate that his business would bring significant social, cultural, or economic benefits to Canada—a key requirement under the LMIA-exempt code C11 category.

Details of the Refusal

The refusal was rooted in several key observations by the reviewing officer:

  • The business plan, while extensive, was deemed to have content that appeared to be copied from open-source websites, raising concerns about the originality and depth of the market research.
  • The financial projections were considered overly optimistic and not reasonably justified within the Canadian economic context.
  • The offered salary to local employees was below the average, raising doubts about the feasibility and fairness of the proposed business operations.

Judicial Review Proceedings

During the judicial review, the court meticulously examined the procedural fairness of the IRCC’s decision-making process as well as the substantive reasons for the refusal. Mousavimianji’s legal team initially argued that IRCC had mass-refused applications without independent evaluation, violating procedural fairness. However, these arguments were abandoned in later stages, shifting focus to the alleged inadequacy of the reasons provided by the officer regarding the business plan and financial assessments.

Court’s Analysis and Decision

Justice Tsimberis, presiding over the case, affirmed the officer’s decision, emphasizing the lack of substantive merit in the applicant’s arguments. The judge highlighted that:

  • The officer did engage with the business plan but found it lacked substantial evidence to support the ambitious financial projections.
  • Concerns about the source and quality of the market research were justified given the apparent reliance on publicly available internet sources.
  • The analysis of proposed salaries being below average was both reasonable and accurate, considering the cost of living and wage standards in Toronto.

In summary, the court concluded that the issues raised in Mousavimianji’s further memorandum were either irrelevant or inadequately substantiated to warrant overturning the IRCC’s decision. As such, the application for judicial review was dismissed.

Implications for Future Applicants

This case serves as a crucial reminder for entrepreneurs and self-employed individuals seeking to establish businesses in Canada under the International Mobility Program. Applicants must ensure that their business plans are not only thorough and original but also grounded in realistic financial projections and fair employment practices. Moreover, this decision highlights the importance of aligning business proposals closely with the significant benefits criteria outlined in the immigration regulations.

In light of this judgment, potential applicants should consider:

  • Conducting deep and original market research to support their business proposal.
  • Ensuring financial projections are realistic and substantiated with clear, credible evidence.
  • Setting salaries for potential employees that are competitive and reflective of regional standards.

This ruling not only clarifies the standards expected by IRCC but also provides a roadmap for how future applications should be prepared to meet the stringent requirements of the LMIA-exempt categories under the International Mobility Program.

Questions and Answers Based on the Mousavimianji v. The Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Case

What was the main issue in the case of Amirkeyvan Mousavimianji v. The Minister of Citizenship and Immigration?

The main issue was the refusal of Amirkeyvan Mousavimianji’s application for a Canadian work permit under the International Mobility Program, specifically under the LMIA-exempt code C11 category, which is designated for entrepreneurs planning to create significant benefits for Canada.

Why was Mousavimianji’s application for a work permit initially refused?

His application was refused because the reviewing officer concluded that his business plan was overly optimistic and parts of it appeared to be copied from open-source websites. Additionally, the financial projections and salary offerings to local employees were found to be unreasonable.

What kind of business did Mousavimianji intend to establish in Canada?

He planned to establish “Kenyan International Student Advisor Services Inc.,” a company offering educational consulting services to international students interested in trade schools in Canada.

What was the basis of the judicial review sought by Mousavimianji?

Mousavimianji sought judicial review to challenge the IRCC’s decision, arguing initially that there was a breach of procedural fairness in how the applications were processed and later focusing on the officer’s failure to adequately address the contents and projections of his business plan.

What were the key points considered by Justice Tsimberis in her ruling?

Justice Tsimberis considered the originality and credibility of the business plan, the realism of the financial projections, and whether the proposed salaries met local standards. She found the officer’s evaluation to be thorough and justified.

What did the court conclude about the officer’s review of the business plan?

The court concluded that the officer did not ignore the business plan but rather critically evaluated it and reasonably found it lacking in terms of originality, detail, and realistic financial planning.

How did the court address the issue of procedural fairness raised by Mousavimianji?

The court noted that the procedural fairness arguments were eventually abandoned by Mousavimianji and therefore did not factor into the final decision, focusing instead on the substantive issues related to the business plan and financial assessments.

What lessons can other entrepreneurs learn from this case when applying for work permits under the International Mobility Program?

Entrepreneurs should ensure their business plans are original, detailed, and backed by credible, realistic financial projections. They should also offer fair wages that comply with local standards to enhance the viability of their applications.

What did Justice Tsimberis say about the financial projections in Mousavimianji’s business plan?

She stated that the financial projections were overly optimistic and not adequately supported with reasonable evidence, rendering them unrealistic in the Canadian economic context.

Why was Mousavimianji’s appeal ultimately dismissed by the Federal Court?

The appeal was dismissed because the new issues raised in the further memorandum were deemed irrelevant or inadequately substantiated, and the original procedural fairness arguments were abandoned. The court found no merit in the applicant’s challenges to the IRCC’s decision.

Pax Law can help you!

Contact Samin Mortazavi at Pax Law Corporation, where expertise and dedication converge to resolve your immigration legal needs. With a profound understanding of Canadian immigration law and a commitment to personalized legal representation, Samin Mortazavi offers strategic guidance and advocacy for navigating complex immigration processes. Whether it’s applying for visas, handling immigration appeals, or advising on compliance issues, Pax Law Corporation is your trusted partner in managing your immigration matters. Secure your future in Canada by reaching out to Samin Mortazavi today.

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