In my previous column, I talked about the 5 Best Ways For Investors To Immigrate To The United States. This time, I will cover the same topic for Canada.
Question: What is the best Canadian immigration plan for an investor and their family?
Here are your top five Canadian investor immigration options:
1. Province of Quebec Immigrant Investor Program
- Pro: Security of funds and low cost of passive involvement
- Con: Intensive paperwork showing source and path of funds
La belle province wants you (and your investment).
Invest about $750,000 ($800,000 Canadian) with the government of the province of Quebec for five years, interest-free. In around 24 to 36 months, you obtain permanent residence that entitles you and your immediate family to enter Canada. The full amount is repaid to you from the government of Quebec at the end of the five years.
For French language speakers, this program is always open. For English speakers or anyone who does not speak French, the program is closed until September, 2014.
This is a passive investment in which your money is used by Quebec for economic development. The catch here is that you must agree to live in the province of Quebec, for example in Montreal or Quebec City. That said, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees mobility rights and therefore makes it possible for investors to subsequently move elsewhere in Canada.
If the $750,000 sounds steep, you can obtain a loan from a financial intermediary. In this way, investors can divest themselves of the burden of investing the $750,000 for five years. The cost of the loan is just under $205,000 ($220,000 Canadian).
There is no age or education requirement for this program, but the investor and family members must be in reasonably good health. Apart from the French-speaking caveat above, there is effectively no language qualification requirement.
Read this article for a more in-depth look at the program.
2. Section 205 Work Visa
- Pro: Control of the money and self-sponsorship
- Con: Risks associated with a start-up, active involvement required
This one involves running your own business.
The process entails incorporating your Canadian company, registering with Revenue Canada, opening a Canadian bank account for your company and depositing money into the account for the company’s use.
You must develop a business plan that explains how your investment will benefit Canadians, either economically, socially or culturally. For example, I had a client that opened a business in Nova Scotia to export Canadian fish products to the Asian market. We argued that the business would employ Canadian fishermen and find new export markets for Canadian fish products. Visa approved.
Processing takes less than six months. After one year of success in the business, you can apply under the Canadian Experience Class for permanent residence.
This is also a good option to combine with a franchise scenario, like a restaurant or hotel chain.
See my video on Section 205 for more analysis.
3. Inter-corporate Transferee Work Visa
- Pro: Cheap way to get permanent residence
- Con: Requires support of a petitioning company
If you are transferred from your company abroad to an affiliated Canadian company to work as a manager, executive or person with specialized knowledge, you may be later entitled to obtain Canadian permanent residence. Think of a Shell Oil manager coming to Canada to run a subsidiary plant at the oil sands in Fort McMurray.
A couple of conditions: 1. You must have worked for the affiliated company abroad for a period of at least one year in the last three years. 2. Your job in Canada must be similar to the job you were performing at home.
Assuming you qualify, you will get a work visa for up to four years.
Processing time for inter-corporate transferees is less than six months. After one year, you can apply under the Canadian Experience Class for permanent residence.
4. Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP)
- Pro: Large variety to choose from, priority processing
- Con: Constantly changing rules, tied to province of investment, hands-on involvement
Many provinces in Canada have their own business immigration programs, known as Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP). They work a little like the Section 205 Work Visa. I’ll use the province of Prince Edward Island (PEI) as an example.
PEI’s program requires you have a net worth of just under $560,000 ($600,000 CAD), put up just over $185,000 ($200,000 CAD) as a refundable security deposit, invest around $185,000 ($200,000 CAD) in a business, have two years of management experience in the last five years and meet English language and minimum education requirements.
To succeed under the program, you effectively must travel to PEI to meet with provincial officials and satisfy them of your willingness to invest and live in PEI. The refund of your security deposit is based on those assurances.
If your proposed investment in a local company is approved, you are issued a provincial nominee certificate that provides you with priority immigration processing. This results in permanent residence, which in most cases takes 12 to 24 months.
Unlike the Section 205 and inter-corporate transferee options above, PNP programs like the one in PEI skip work permits and take the investor directly to permanent residence.
Other provinces that attract investors are BC, Manitoba and Saskatchewan. Each of the programs are the same in spirit, but their requirements may vary.
5. Quebec Entrepreneur Program
- Pro: Small investment in a business leading to permanent residence
- Con: Active management of a business in the province of Quebec is required
To be eligible for this program, you must:
- have net assets of at least $280,000 (C$300,000)
- have at least two years experience in running a business in the last five years while controlling at least 25% of the capital equity
- Create or acquire at least 25% of the equity of a business in Quebec by investing at least $94,000 ($100,000 Canadian)
Assessment of the application will take into account factors such as:
- your age
- the nature and duration of your training
- your language skills
- your personal qualities and your knowledge of Quebec
The steps taken to acquire a business in Quebec or your ability to carry out a business project will be the key element in your assessment.
More details about the program can be obtained from the Quebec government’s website.
So there they are – five Canadian immigration options to consider if you are an investor.
According to a recent change in the law that is expected to go into effect on January 1, 2015, after four years of Canadian residence, you can apply for Canadian citizenship and a passport.
Even if you are not ready to immigrate right now, you might consider these options as an immigration backup plan, just in case you don’t like the look of things where you are. Also be sure to watch my video that summarizes these options.