The former Immigrant Investor Program, as it was constituted, had its detractors. A principal objection, and there were a few, was that it effectively permitted the high net worth foreign national to buy a permanent residence visa.
A high net worth individual, with business experience, who could pass a criminal and security check and who could make an investment with the federal government, either directly or by financing the investment through an approved financial institution, could obtain permanent residence. Commentators repeatedly made the claim that “Citizenship was for sale”.
The New Federal Program
The Federal Immigrant Investor Program was placed in a moratorium in July 2012 and finally scrapped in the March 2014 federal budget.
As of June 9, 2014 applications in the backlog of the Federal Immigrant Investor Program were terminated by the implementation of Bill C-31. The legislation provided that if a selection decision was not made before February 11, 2014, an applicant in the program received a refund of the processing fee and was advised to look elsewhere. Not surprisingly, the business program of the British Columbia Provincial Nomination Program received an influx of applications shortly after, which has created a significant backlog in the provincial program.
The investor program has now returned in a new manifestation known as the Immigration Investor Venture Capital Program. Applicants need a net worth of at least $10 million and must commit a sum of $2 million to the federal government for a period of up to 15 years with no guarantee of investment return. Applicants must also meet an official language requirement and demonstrate a Canadian post-secondary credential of at least one year. However, if an investor shows a $50 million net worth, the educational credential is waived. Presumably if an investor has accumulated a $50 million net worth, the federal government is sufficiently satisfied that your business acumen relieves you of the burden of proving any level of educational achievement. How the government arrived at the threshold figure of $50 million is unknown.
The problem with this new program is that it opened January 28, 2015 and closed on February 11, 2015, or at the point where a maximum of 500 applications would be received, whichever came first. From a maximum 500 applications accepted, the federal government announced 60 applicants are to be chosen at random. Once the 60 permanent resident approvals are issued, all remaining applications will be returned with the processing fees.
One might ask, what was the point of the exercise? Although it may prevent a backlog in this processing stream, so prevalent in other immigration categories, 60 applicants submitting a minimum of $2 million each, does not represent a significant economic benefit to the country.
Putting the most positive light on the matter, we can only assume that the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration will issue another set of instructions inviting another round of investors to apply. For those who meet the selection criteria but may be barred by the existing deadline, it is best to prepare a draft of the application beforehand in order to file as soon as the program reopens. If the applicant passes through the initial stage of the next allotment, all supporting documents will have a 60 day window for submission.
The alternative options for any business immigrant is to select the Federal Start Up Visa Program or file a business application with a Nomination Program operated by a Province or Territory.
For more information, please contact Bruce Harwood.
Tags: Immigration; Bruce Harwood; Article