Canada to eliminate investor immigration: Are you affected?

Two immigration programmes of Canada are likely to be eliminated: the Federal Immigrant Investment Programme (FIIP) and the Entrepreneur Programme.

This was announced on February 11 when the Canadian government revealed its intention to terminate the programmes and eliminate the existing backlogs of these programmes.

Both programmes have been closed for some time.

While the FIIP has been closed for admission since July 1, 2012, the entrepreneur route was closed one year earlier, on July 1, 2011.

While an alternative entrepreneur programme was opened last year in the form of the Start Up Programme, a long backlog of applicants for the older programmes remained.

With the current number of backlogged applications standing at 65,000, the Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) anticipates that it would take longer than six years.

“In order to move forward with programmes that will more accurately capture the types of investors needed in Canada, CIC will instead eliminate the files currently in the backlog,” the CIC website states.

“By doing away with the current IIP and EN programs, the government will ‘pave the way for new pilot programmes that will actually meet Canada’s labour market and economic needs’.

These pilot programmes will be tailored to meet the realities of Canada’s economic needs,” it states.

In general, the focus of the Canadian immigration policy has been more on the worker than on the investor.

In 2011, approximately 10,000 immigrants entered Canada through the IIP, while almost 1,000 entered through the EN programme.

In the years before the temporary shutdown of the programmes, investors were known to wait for at least 54 months for visa issuance, while many entrepreneurs faced even longer processing times.

In addition, the CIC did not seem to be entirely satisfied with the contribution of the newcomers.

Following the announcement of the shutdown it pointed out that the threshold of investment for IIP applicants, which stands at CAD800,000 (Dh2,700,000), was significantly lower than that of investor programmes in countries such as the UK and Australia.

Investors who arrive in Canada are also likely to pay less in taxes than immigrants who come to Canada through other programmes.

Hence, the programmes will no longer be listed as immigration streams in to Canada.

When the new programmes will be developed and launched, is unclear at this point. Also, the exact details of the elimination of backlogged application are yet to be clarified.

Meanwhile, entrepreneurs can consider the start-up programme or provincial programmes designed for entrepreneurs.

For the Start-up Programme, the foreign entrepreneur must first secure a significant investment commitment from a designated Canadian angel investor group or venture capital fund.

Applicants must also demonstrate language proficiency skills at a Canadian Language Benchmark 5 in listening, speaking, reading and writing, and have at least one year of education at a post-secondary institution.

This programme will run for the next five years.

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