The upcoming relaunch of the Quebec Immigrant Investor Program (QIIP), known for its popularity as Canada’s leading business immigration program for the past two decades, is likely to raise some doubts among some foreign investors and others who are familiar with investor immigrant programs. Regulations for the program were just released. The revised program aims to attract investors by offering a passive investment immigration pathway without the requirement of establishing a business in Canada and actively managing it.
One notable change is the exclusive participation of regulated investment dealers and trust companies as financial intermediaries. This ensures investor confidence and provides a mechanism for agents to receive compensation. Additionally, the Quebec Government guarantees the investment, enabling financial intermediaries to arrange financing for applicants, further enhancing the appeal of the program.
The revised QIIP introduces several new requirements for the principal applicant. To be eligible, they must demonstrate a legally accumulated net worth of at least $ 1.5 million USD (C$ 2 million). Furthermore, the applicant must possess a high school (secondary) diploma and a minimum of two years of management experience within the five years preceding the application.
Once approved, the principal applicant will be required to make specific financial contributions. These include a $750,000 USD ($1 million CAD) five-year investment through an authorized financial intermediary, guaranteed by the Quebec Government. It is worth noting that financing options are available for this investment. In addition, a non-refundable contribution of $ 150,000 US ($200,000 CAD) to the Government of Quebec will be required.
Upon approval and completion of the financial contributions, the principal applicant and their family will be granted a temporary stay in Canada for three years. This temporary status allows the family members to work and study in Quebec, facilitating their integration into the local community. However, within the first two years of arriving in Quebec, the principal applicant must fulfill additional requirements. They must achieve a Level 7 out of 12 on the Echelle québécoise des niveaux de compétence en français, demonstrating their French language proficiency. Moreover, the applicant or their spouse must spend at least six months in Quebec, with an additional six months of residence required for either the applicant or the spouse.
Following the fulfillment of these requirements, the principal applicant and their dependents will receive Selection Certificates (CSQ), allowing them to apply for permanent residence from within Canada.
To summarize, the QIIP envisions an investment of roughly $ 750,000 U.S. refunded in five years interest-free. Details about financing such investments are not yet known but the speculation has been it will be about $375,000 U.S. as a one-time non-refundable payment consisting of the $ 150,000 US. to Quebec and the remainder being the cost of a loan to pay for the program. A big question related to the program will be the processing time for approval. Under the old program, it ran as long as five years although French speakers got through in about two years counting the provincial and federal processing that was required. The key impediments of the program for many investors are the French language requirement and the six months physical presence and one-year residence element to achieve unconditional permanent residence.
Canadian Start-Up Visa Program
In contrast to the QIIP, the federal Canadian Start-Up Visa Program provides an alternative pathway to Canadian permanent residence. To be eligible, applicants must have a qualifying business and obtain a letter of support from a designated organization. They must also meet the language requirements, demonstrate proficiency in English or French, and have sufficient settlement funds. The program focuses on innovative businesses, allowing applicants to actively manage their ventures within Canada. Under that program investors normally pay somewhere between say $ 100,000 to $ 125,000 USD to make the necessary arrangements to be approved for permanent residence through a Canadian sponsoring organization that certifies the bona fides of the investor’s business plan. A key difference is that the Start-Up program requires the active involvement of the investor with an innovative new idea whereas the Quebec program is a passive program. However, judging by current processing times, the processing times for the Start-Up program and the Quebec program will likely be similar.
New Brunswick Program
Under the New Brunswick Provincial Nominee Program for investors you must be ready to invest under $95,000 USD (C$ 125,000) in a business for a period of not less than one year and the business has to have been established within two years of landing. To guarantee the investment is made a deposit of $ 57,000 USD (C$ 75,000) must be made with the provincial government which will be returned if the above conditions have been met. What is more, the investor must have a net worth of at least $ 225,000 USD (C$ 300,000).
Applicants are vetted by a point system used to assess them and must score 50 points to succeed. They must be between 22 and 55 years of age have sufficient English and or French language ability to actively manage a business in New Brunswick have, at a minimum, been awarded a high school diploma, and be willing to live and operate a business in New Brunswick. Applicants also must have management experience in three of the last five years. Applications must include a business plan that must be approved by an official of the Government of New Brunswick certifying the applicant has sufficient familiarity with the business climate in the province. Processing times will also be likely to be similar to the Quebec program.
The U.S. EB-5 Investor Immigration Program
The United States offers foreign investors its EB-5 investor immigration program which was created by the U.S. Congress in 1990 to attract investments and create jobs for American workers. In its most popular format, the EB-5 program enables foreign investors who invest $800,000 USD in a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration approved regional center commercial project for approximately five years to get a green card. The program is a relatively passive way for investors to gain permanent residence for themselves and their families and has an attractive concurrent filing feature that enables many investors to gain work and travel status inside the U.S. while awaiting the adjudication of their internally filed adjustment of status applications. In most instances, full processing to green card status is taking about four years, although Indian, Chinese, and Vietnamese applicants, are taking many years longer.
Ultimately, the choice of an investor immigration program depends on individual circumstances, including language proficiency, investment preferences, and long-term goals. However, the QIIP’s changes, particularly the French language requirement and temporary residency period, may deter some potential investors. As investors weigh their options, they will need to consider the various specific program requirements and their suitability for individual aspirations and objectives.