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Tech start-ups upset about Trump are turning to Canada

Uncertainty over the Trump administration's immigration policy and travel ban has technology start-ups increasingly looking to Canada.

Sunil Sharma, a partner in Toronto based Extreme Venture Partners, is a designated investor in Canada's Start-up Visa program. The program grants permanent residence to founders of companies who locate to Canada. Sharma says unsolicited requests for funding have increased threefold in the last month.

President Donald Trump meets with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the White House on Feb. 13, 2017.
Mandel Ngan | AFP | Getty Images
President Donald Trump meets with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the White House on Feb. 13, 2017.

"With [this] kind of uncertainty, entrepreneurs are finding it a riskier idea that they are going to be able to move or stay in the U.S., so there has been an increase in the volume of applications," Sharma said.

One of the companies Extreme Venture Partners invested in is Fulfili.IO, a business management software start-up. Co-founder Sharoon Thomas, says the company chose Canada over the U.S. because "the U.S. system is very difficult to navigate." Thomas says recent events in the U.S. now makes him feel good about his decision. "There's a lot of things uncertain about a start-up and you don't want one more thing on your list to be worried about, so I think that stability is a big factor."

Political uncertainty led a group of entrepreneurs to set up True North, a for-profit venture designed to help U.S. tech workers with H-1B visas to relocate to Vancouver.

Co-founder Michael Tippett says "tens of thousands" of people have come to its website and they are working with tech companies' human resources managers to explore options to move teams to Vancouver. "If people have valuable skills and they are able to come in and contribute to the economy, they are more than welcome to make Canada their home."

San Francisco based payment start-up Kash plans new hires in Toronto because of fear of disruption from the Trump administration. Kash CEO Kasra Nejatian is a Canadian citizen and U.S. green card holder, who was born in Iran. "I'm 100 percent sure more U.S. firms will move offices to Canada and more Canadian firms will hire people stranded because of this order."

Nejatian sent a tweet after the executive order first hit telling H-1B visa holders he would help them find a job in Canada. Nejatian says he received 200 emails in two days in response.

"It almost doesn't matter how the courts end up determining this law," he said. "People don't want uncertainty."

See also: Iranian start-up exec shifts plans because 'the US is just not a stable country'

Correction: This story was revised to correct the spelling of Kasra Nejatian's last name.