By EB5 Investors Magazine Staff
Since the Canadian government didn’t renew its Immigrant Investor Venture Capital pilot program, the available program in Canada is through the Quebec Immigrant Investment program (QIIP). Successful business owners/managers, who have assets of CA$1.6 million and investments of CA$ 800,000, can apply. There is no quota for French language speakers but there is a quota of 1,900 applications per year for those without French language skills. Of this, no more than 1,330 may be by foreign nationals from the People’s Republic of China, including the administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macao. Application processing typically takes 3-5 years.
“QIIP has been a long-standing source of capital acquisition for that province,” said David Crawford, Partner, Fragomen Worldwide. “It continues to attract great interest from intending applicants and immigrants who bring enormous amounts of business experience. For the investors that become permanent residents, it gives them access into a strong economy and all the benefits associated with settling in Canada.”
Other programs available for immigration include the Start Up Visa category, introduced in 2014, along the lines of an entrepreneur business category - a niche category for entrepreneurs who plan to establish a business in Canada, with the support of an angel investor, hedge fund or incubator accredited under the program. As a result, demand for this visa has not been great but for those who qualify, the time from the application submission until the grant of permanent residence might be as little as six months.
There are other business categories that are available in Canada relating more to the entrepreneur programs run by the provincial governments. The financial thresholds and related requirements vary. In most, but not all cases, the granting of permanent resident status is subject to the individual living in the province and running the business there. In some cases, applicants might be granted temporary entry for a period of two years on a work permit before being able to apply to remain permanently. In other cases, they enter as direct permanent residents from their initial arrival after the approval.
“Vancouver and Toronto are popular cities for new immigrants to arrive in so the Canadian government is trying to find ways of driving investment to other provinces such as Manitoba and Nova Scotia,” said Harjit Grewal, Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant, Sterling Immigration.
Crawford adds: “The various entrepreneur programs attract people who are interested in running businesses in Canada and they provide a realistic option for people wishing to find a life for themselves and their family in many parts of Canada but the continuing demand for quality immigrants remains a priority for the government,” he said. “The overall number of investors entering Canada has declined steadily. Aside from Quebec, there is no immigrant investment program for the remainder of Canada. The number of investment applications is not increasing given the limited number of categories one can apply through and the limited number of applications accepted overall.”
But Grewal is optimistic, “Canada is a very popular place right now, given some of the political instability/upheaval in other countries and also fueled by the fact that it is considered a safe and secure place to raise a family - with low crime rate, excellent nature/recreation opportunities, well regulated banks and education institutions, and universal health care coverage.”
IMMIGRANT INVESTOR VENTURE CAPITAL PILOT PROGRAM NOT EXTENDED
To attract high-worth investors who can make a significant investment to the economy, the Canadian government introduced the Immigrant Investor Venture Capital pilot program (IIVC) in 2015 with the intention that funds would be channeled into innovative Canadian-based start-ups with high growth potential. IIVC involved an at-risk investment of CA$2 million and a personal net worth of CA$10 million. Expecting a huge response, applications were capped at 60 per year but only seven were received in the first year and no permanent visas resulted, despite an extension in the application period. The pilot project was not extended.
IIVC was a replacement for the popular Immigrant Investor Program (IIP), established in the ’80s but terminated in 2014, which offered visas to those with a net worth of CA$1.6 million who were willing to lend CA$800,000 to the government for a term of five years. Top nationalities that applied were China, Vietnam, South Korea, India, Pakistan and Iran. IIP closed to new applicants in 2012 due to a significant backlog of applications.
“After various studies conducted in 2013 and 2014, the government decided to terminate the program altogether, observing that in the five years after landing, those entering Canada through the federal investor route actually paid less income taxes than most other immigrants such as federal skilled workers, refugees and family-based migrants,” said Grewal.
Crawford agreed. “There was a concern that individuals were not spending sufficient amount of time living in Canada or delivering on investment or business commitments,” he said. “The government did not believe they were meeting program objectives,” said Crawford.
As a result, the IIVC program was amended significantly in terms of higher investment amounts and financial worth, along with stringent regulations on business expertise, educational qualifications and language skills, before its re-launch but is no longer available.