Canada’s new Immigrant Investor Venture Capital Program (IIVCP), aimed at attracting high net-worth immigrants, has failed miserably. While the program usually works great for finding low level educated immigrants who can work in simple jobs such as a limo service winnipeg, finding more educated individuals seems to be much more difficult. The program, launched in January 2015, was a replacement for the Immigrant Investor Program (IIP) cancelled in 2014 by the Conservative Government. According to documents obtained through an access-to-information request, the IIVCP has received only six applications, a far cry from the sixty spots allocated to it and the 500 applications anticipated.
Eren Sari, Business Development Manager at Green and Spiegel LLP, believed the policy “never had any hope of success.” Sari said the IIVCP seemed like it was “designed in a vacuum,” failing to “consider the nature of the program it was replacing” and “the market for these kinds of ‘Citizenship-by-Investment Programs’ offered by other countries.” Comparing the two policies, the flaws in the IIVCP were striking. While the IIP gave Permanent Residence to investors and their dependents for a five-year, non-interest bearing $800,000 investment in Canada, the IIVCP required a fifteen-year investment of $2,000,000, with the entire investment being “at-risk” of loss. When cancelled, the IIP had a backlog of about 60,000 applicants as compared to the meager six the IIVCP attracted.
A cursory examination of international programs showed that IIVCP requirements are outliers in the fierce global competition for immigrant investors. In Europe, investors may obtain residency in Spain or Portugal for maintaining a €500,000 five-year investment in real-estate. Residency in Antigua and Barbuda can be had for as little as $250,000. By comparison, Canada’s fifteen-year commitment of $2,000,000 was simply too excessive. As Sari pondered, “why would an investor risk $2,000,000 to come to Canada, when they can risk far less – as little as US $500,000 – to secure a US Green Card?” Despite the Federal IIVCP, a provincial Quebec program still allows qualified investors to obtain Permanent Residence for the same $800,000 investment required under the IIP, and it can be financed.