THE STATE OF INVESTOR IMMIGRATION IN CANADA
The State of Investor Immigration in Canada
Canada has always been a country which values the hard work and talents of entrepreneurs and businesspeople. These days, the Canadian economy is thriving, unemployment is at a historic low, and Canada is becoming a leader in global innovation across many different sectors. Canada’s economic success is not simply due to the work of Canadian citizens, but also due to immigrants, many of whom come to the country as investors and entrepreneurs, ready to lend their financial skills to the Canadian economy.
Immigrants are one of the driving forces behind new economic development in Canada. One of the most important ways in which new immigrants contribute to the economy is through investor immigration programs. These programs allow wealthy individuals from foreign countries to immigrate to Canada through the promise of significant investment in the Canadian economy.
Some investor programs are also tied to business management, so new immigrants invest in purchasing a Canadian business and commit to the management of this business as well.
For nearly two decades, Canada accepted a high volume of immigrant investors who were able to essentially purchase their permanent resident status in Canada if they had the finances to do so. This program, called the Immigrant Investor Program (IIP), was shut down in 2014 after the government determined the program to have little economic benefit to the country.
Presently, Canada accepts between 5,000 and 7,000 new immigrants through business immigration pathways. The vast majority of these immigrants, about 80%, come through business immigration programs offered by the province of Quebec. While the federal investor program was shut down in 2014, Quebec has maintained an immigrant investor program.
It is unclear what lies in the future for immigrant investors in Canada. The country attempted to revamp investor immigration by introducing the Immigrant Investor Venture Capital Pilot Program (IIVC) in 2014. This program required candidates to have a net worth of at least $10 million CAD and to invest $2 million without any guarantee of return. With the high requirements, the program attracted only 7 applications in its pilot year. While the federal immigration authorities haven’t yet found an investor immigration program which works, many Canadian provinces have picked up the slack.
The Quebec Investor Program (QIP) is one of the best options for those wishing to immigrate to Canada through financial investment. In order to qualify for this program, a person must have a personal net worth of at least $2 million CAD and must be willing to invest at least $1.2 million CAD as part of the immigration process. If a person meets these requirements, Quebec might be the ideal pathway to becoming a Canadian permanent resident.
The QIP only allows applications during designated intake periods. Quebec announced earlier this year that the program would not be accepting any applications until at least August 15th, 2018. While it is still not known if a new intake period will be announced in August, the program is expected to have a new intake at some point in the future.
OTHER BUSINESS IMMIGRATION PATHWAYS
New in the landscape of Canadian immigration is the Federal Startup Visa program. This program is for innovative entrepreneurs who have the skills needed to grow businesses in Canada. The Startup Visa application requires candidates to demonstrate their business management experience and to show that they have acquired a significant investment for the project from an organization designated by the Canadian government.
Canada also offers a range of entrepreneurial immigration programs. These programs require applicants to have a significant personal net worth, along with business management experience. Usually, applicants must submit a business plan and commit to the operation of a specific business for a predetermined length of time. Most of these entrepreneurial programs are offered provincially through Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs).
THE FUTURE OF INVESTOR IMMIGRATION IN CANADA
Canada clearly values the contributions made by immigrant investors and entrepreneurs. While the country may have difficulty establishing a strong federal investor immigration program, there remain many immigration pathways available for those with the right financial background and business experience.
The “citizenship by pay” model of the terminated federal Immigrant Investor Program (IIP) is not a way forward, but the options available through Quebec and many PNPs demonstrate that the country maintains a commitment to helping investors and businesspeople establish new lives in Canada.