Ten On The Weekend

Plans to Expand HQA Visa Program “By Orders of Magnitude”: 10 on The Weekend With Chris Lennon

10 On The Weekend is a weekly (-ish) feature in IMI, the concept of which is simple: Each time, we ask the same ten questions of a different industry figure, letting readers get to know the interviewee on a more personal and informal level than they might in an ordinary business setting.

Our guest this week is Christopher Lennon, President and General Counsel of Empowered Startups.


How do you spend your weekends?

Outdoors. In the mountains, the water, or on a pitch somewhere, running, biking, skiing, or otherwise being active.

What are your top three business goals this year?

  1. Meet and exceed our commitment to the Portuguese Government to grow and expand our HQA Visa program by orders of magnitude;
  2. Continue to build up our US EB2 program to meet the needs of our US Based Research Institutions who want our investor entrepreneurs to fund and commercialize research.
  3. Continue to bring great people to all the great countries we assist with business class investment migration.

What’s your biggest business concern right now?

Geo-political turmoil and unrest.

Which book is on your nightstand right now?

Rebel Ideas by Matthew Syed. It is a re-read, but I tend to keep books I enjoy to hand amongst whatever Scandinavian crime fiction novel I’m reading for pleasure at the moment.

How and when did you first get into the investment migration industry?

In 2013/2014, when my long-term client and friend, Paul Girodo, called to tell me that the Canadian Minister of Immigration wanted Empowered to help them save the new Startup Visa program.

I was working as a lawyer in private practice, mostly for research universities and startups being spun out of university labs.

What was your proudest moment as a service provider?

A message from our partners
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That’s easy: Last February 8th in Portugal, when the Minister of Territorial Cohesion said publicly that Empowered Startups was the partner for Portugal.

We work with governments regularly, but that was by far the strongest public endorsement I’ve ever received from a government minister. More often, they encourage us behind closed doors but keep their public comments more circumspect.

Which investment migration market development has surprised you the most in the last year?

The seemingly continued interest in EB-5 despite the large price increase, long processing time, and uncertainty of approval.

If you could go ten years back in time, what business decision would you change?

I wouldn’t dare mess with the past. Marty McFly didn’t only get me into skateboarding.

What investment migration industry personality do you most admire?

Daniel King, formerly a special advisor to Canada’s Minister of Immigration. It was Mr. King and his team that had the foresight to first develop and launch Canada’s Startup Visa program and bring us in to scale the program.

Everything we are now doing in Portugal with the HQA Visa program and in the US with our EB2 program are improvements and iterations of the Canada Startup Visa program.

They are now both better than Canada’s current SUV program (which is why we are working on the next iteration of the SUV program in Canada), but Canada was the leader in launching the first investor entrepreneur program designed to stimulate investment in university research and commercialization of new technologies.

If all goes according to plan, what will you be doing five years from now?

Building and running new business ventures.

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