Quebec is extending the temporary suspension of the immigrant investor program.
The Quebec Immigrant Investor Program (QIIP) will now be closed to applications until April 1, 2021, according to the Ministry of Immigration, Francization and Integration (MIFI). Quebec had previously closed the program until July 1, 2020.
The program allows people with a net worth of more than $2 million to get permanent residence by investing at least $1.2 million with a financial intermediary that has been approved by the Quebec government.
The QIIP is polarizing, critics say it is easy to take advantage of the program, while supporters say it helps Quebec to acquire more wealth.
Though the program requires candidates to have an intention to reside in Quebec, most take up residence in B.C. or Ontario. Another common criticism is that the program allows people to “buy a permanent residence.”
The QIIP is Quebec’s version of the Federal Immigrant Investor Program (FIIP), which was cancelled in 2014. Quebec is more interested in revising its program as it states in the recent ministerial decree (French only).
In support of the FIIP, the Investment Industry Association of Canada wrote a letter in early May, calling on the federal government to revive Canada’s investor program. They said it could help the Canadian economy recover from the devastating effects caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The IIAC represents the intermediaries who facilitate the arrival to Canada of immigrant investors.
The government of Quebec profits from the investor program by taking a $1.2 million interest-free loan from immigrant investors. The government puts the money in interest-earning invests, such as bonds, and holds it in cash to ensure the money can be repaid to the investor after the five-year term. A small portion goes toward loans for small Quebec businesses.
Quebec will need to consider lending rates set by the Bank of Canada when it revisits what it wishes to do with the QIIP. Interest rates have plunged after coronavirus prevention measures were implemented in March. The low-interest rates raise the question of whether or not it will be worth it for Quebec to maintain the QIIP in an effort to stimulate the province’s economy.
Investor immigration falls under business immigration, a category for high net worth individuals who have the potential to create jobs and contribute to economic prosperity in Canada. Business immigration also includes entrepreneur immigration.
The main difference between investor and entrepreneur immigration programs is that entrepreneur programs require immigrants to actively manage a business in exchange for permanent residence, whereas investor programs offer permanent residence in exchange for an interest-free loan.
For immigrants who wish who start a business, there are other options such as Quebec’s business immigration program. Canada also has the federal Start-up Visa Program and the entrepreneur streams offered by the provinces and territories under the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP). Ontario, for example, invited 26 entrepreneurs under its PNP last month.