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What Can Canada Do For Immigrant Investors? - Russ Weninger Immigration Lawyer in Calgary, AB :: Russ Weninger Immigration Lawyer in Calgary, AB
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Up until a few years ago, the federal government had a viable immigrant investor program. While the Canadian government has what is nominally an immigrant investor program, at this stage, it is really only going through the motions. The current (federal) program is a laughingstock. It appears to have been designed to deliberately discourage would-be immigrant investors from applying.

The Immigrant Investor Venture Capital Pilot Program demands the following of its applicants:

  • Personal net worth of $10,000,000
  • A non-guaranteed $2,000,000 investment held for 15 years!
  • Significant language skills in English or French
  • At least one year of post-secondary education (you may be exempted from this if your net worth is $50,000,000 or more)

While it’s encouraging to note that if Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg (two famously successful university drop-outs) wanted to immigrate to Canada, the lack of a post-secondary credential wouldn’t necessarily hold them back. However, it’s not particularly encouraging to note that that someone with $49,999,999 and a high school education would be regarded as a poor, stupid schmuck not worth the time of day by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.

To make matters worse, this particular program is currently closed. The federal government is not at this time accepting any applications under this program and may simply discontinue the program. So what’s a would-be immigrant investor looking at making Canada his home to do? There are in fact a number of options, but they require looking at provincial (as opposed to federal) immigration programs.

The Government of Quebec has an immigrant investor program that may be attractive to certain high-net-worth individuals. While preference is given to investors with French language skills, this isn’t an absolute requirement of the program.

Also, several provinces have provincial nominee program business streams based on establishing a business within the province in question. Typical rules include setting up a business that will employ a certain number of local people for a particular period of time. A qualifying business typically has to be over a certain value and be in an approved industry.

Business stream investors typically have to prove that they have experience actively operating a business. In other words, simply being wealthy is not sufficient. The goal of these programs is for the applicant to own and operate a business in the province where they have applied. Regrettably, my home province, Alberta, doesn’t currently have a business immigration stream, but that will hopefully change in the future.

At this time, Alberta is going through economic problems (high unemployment, a drop in tax revenues to fund government programs, a drop in real estate values for home owners) due to the downturn in the oil and gas sector. The energy sector is an industry upon which the Alberta economy is overly reliant. A business immigration stream under the Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program could potentially help to diversify and stimulate the economy. Be that as it may, such a program currently does not exist in this province.

Provinces to consider are places like British Columbia, Manitoba, and certain Maritime provinces. However, it should be noted that these programs are extremely competitive. Meeting the basic criteria of a provincial nominee business immigration stream will by no means guarantee success. In addition to having a top-notch business plan, the applicant must be able to satisfy the provincial authorities that he or she genuinely intends to reside in the province to which he or she is applying. That may involve purchasing real estate in the province in question, enrolling one’s children in school in that province, conducting several trips to that province, etc.

While Canada does, mostly at the provincial level, have programs that can accommodate wealthy business people who wish to relocate to this country, these programs are complex, somewhat uncertain, and typically require years of commitment on the part of the applicant.

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