The closure of Canada’s federal immigrant investor program has caused a stir within the U.S. EB-5 investment immigration sphere. Most of the discourse has revolved around how our northern neighbor’s program shutdown could affect the EB-5 program, with the possibility that applicants who were turned away from Canada will shift their immigration focus to the United States. With the flurry of predictions about the potential increase in EB-5 visa applicants as a result of the situation, one thing seems to have been forgotten: there is still an avenue for immigrant investors into Canada.
Arguably the most independent of Canada’s provinces, Québec has immigration sovereignty. In 1991, the governments of Québec and Canada came to the agreement that Québec had authority over which foreign nationals could immigrate to the province. Québec is using this accord to keep the Canadian immigrant investor program open, much to the chagrin of the rest of the nation. The Canadian press, including publications like CTV News, The Globe and Mail, The Vancouver Sun, HSBC, and The StarPhoenix, has blown up with concerns over the special treatment and financial advantages that Québec maintains, and cites this situation as just one more example.
Unlike in the EB-5 immigrant investor program, the comparable program in Québec does not place a burden of proof on the applicant to prove economic development. While EB-5 applicants must provide documentation for at least ten jobs created per investment, applicants to Québec need only to invest $800,000 CD into government bonds for five years. This investment is also guaranteed by the government, and ensured to be returned after the five years, unlike the at risk investments in EB-5.
However, this doesn’t mean Québec is the automatic first-choice harbor for investors turned away from the national program. Québec only accepts applications in limited bursts of time, and the next window will not be open until September 8, 2014. Even more concerning for potential investors, the application period will only last until September 19. That’s right—only 11 days. The Québec program also maintains a tight quota of 1,750 applications reviewed per open period, and only 1,200 from one country (which will most likely be China). If more applications are received, those forwarded for review will be selected for by lottery.
With such a short application window, and such a small quota of applications reviewed, the program from Québec is only a viable alternative to the federal Canadian program to a certain extent. Therefore, the EB-5 program may still experience an influx of would-be Canadian applicants who decide to alter their family’s immigration plans and pursue investment immigration to the United States.