Navigating the immigration process in Canada can be extremely tedious and at times confusing. Luckily, for Canadian companies and the foreign talent they hire, there’s a better way to navigate the whole journey right from the beginning. Visto is a new immigration platform that helps Canadian companies sponsor foreign tech workers so they can come and work in Canada. It has an impressive growth trajectory since its inception.
We sat down with Joshua Schachnow, who is the CEO and Co-founder to hear about his story building Visto.
What was the inspiration behind building an immigration tech based startup?
I spent the first few years of my career practicing in the immigration space and was lucky enough to work with a lot of exciting Canadian tech companies. They were all building cool new technology and different apps that made things so much easier for people, and eventually I thought to myself “wait a minute, why isn’t anyone building technology to make immigration easier?”
Especially since immigration includes repeatable tasks like filling out forms, uploading PDFs and managing different documents and processes, I thought it would be a perfect opportunity!
How does Visto help navigate the Canadian immigration process from start to finish?
In short, we make the process way more efficient and fast for companies and the tech workers they are sponsoring.
If you think about how most people work with lawyers, it’s usually pretty slow and inefficient – tons of emails back and forth, Drive/Dropbox links, multiple conversations with different stakeholders – it can be a mess. Not only that, everyone involved usually has a lot of questions about the process, how long it takes and case-specific issues.
We optimized the entire flow and put everything in one place, so you can login, fill out everything our legal team needs, upload any documents, get direct feedback and answers, application status updates, access our Knowledge Base and more.
For companies specifically, it also means storing and saving everything in one place so anyone in the company can jump in or access it as needed.
It’s what I wish I had for my clients when I was doing things the “old way”.
What are some ways Tech Talent can prepare for immigration to Canada?
The best thing they can do is have their documents and plans in order. This means quality scans of passports, degrees, reference letters from previous employers and potentially some others that may or may not apply (depending on the type of visa and nationality of the applicant). Of course, tech talent coming through the Visto app get specific instructions on what we need, how to get it and can inquire through our chat widget whenever they need more help!
It also means planning to uplift your life and move to a different country. Do you have a house or car to sell? A new school to find for your child? How much are you going to pack/bring with you?
These are some big things to stay on top of, so the earlier, the better.
What advice do you have for companies looking to hire tech talent?
Give immigration a try. It’s never been more competitive to hire inside Canada, and salary expectations have never been higher.
What most companies don’t realize is that the government has made it easier than ever to sponsor tech talent – so it’s probably quicker, easier and cheaper than you think! But most companies hear the word “immigration” and think “painful, slow, expensive”.
Not anymore! If you’re even a little curious about what the process looks like, reach out and I’m happy to share more.
What are some ways Visto can companies with recruiting technical talent?
To be honest, we aren’t expert recruiters and we don’t pretend to be (we also don’t charge recruitment fees…). What we’re really good at is immigration, so we mostly work with companies that are already looking abroad or have remote workers they want to bring to Canada.
That being said, because we’re obviously into foreign talent and have a decent brand in this space, we also have a database of awesome people who want to come to Canada. Companies can use this to search for tech talent around the world and then bring them here, all in one place!
What has been your proudest moment since starting this journey?
We’ve certainly come a long way, but the proudest moment was when we brought our own tech worker, Andres, to Canada on a work visa.
At this point I’ve probably helped companies bring 200+ tech workers into Canada, and every one feels amazing. But when we made our own first tech hire, we knew we wanted to drink our own Kool-aid and bring someone in from outside Canada. Andres had been using our platform for years (because he wanted to come to Canada so badly) and he and I had developed a friendship – so we didn’t even make a job post.
I just reached out to him, asked if he wanted to work with us, and 2 weeks later he was hired! Then earlier this year he relocated to Canada with his family, and I met them at Pearson Airport. It was so cool because we helped Andres start a new life here with his family, and we knew we needed to keep helping more companies do the same.
What drives you to keep going when it gets really tough?
That’s a good question – because building a business, especially in tech, gets tough pretty often.
For me it’s always been the mission of the company, and if you don’t have a strong mission, you may not want to start a business in the first place. I started the company years ago because I wanted to make immigration easier for Canadian companies and for the people they hire to start new lives here.
When things get tough, I think of how many people and companies we’ve helped already, and how many more we can help in the future. It’s so competitive for tech talent in Canada right now, but there are SO many incredible tech workers who live elsewhere and would love to move here and work at an exciting tech company.
If we can help bridge the gap by making the immigration process that much easier and quicker, we can help so many people, companies and our economy grow and lead better lives.