The Quebec Investor Immigration Program (QIIP) is currently the only passive immigrant investor program in Canada. It has been in operation for the past 30 years.
In our previous post, we looked at the cancellation of the federal investor immigration program. This post examines the QIIP, a good option for investors who are looking for immigration options to Canada.
Quebec Investor Immigration
Québec has a unique agreement with the federal government which allows them to set their own selection criteria for immigrants. This includes the skilled worker and investor classes. Indeed, Quebec has maintained their own investor program despite the fact that the federal government has cancelled and modified many of their own programs.
As we outlined in our last post, Canada cancelled the investor and the entrepreneur programs a few years ago. Both federal programs could politely be described as a mess, as the selection standards were at best vague and the waiting lists stretched from years to decades.
As for Québec, they developed definitive selection criteria and rigorously applied it. For example, Québec in recent years has centralized the processing of Quebec investors in Montreal and has gathered a group of analysts with expertise in the major source countries of applicants. The process is exacting, with applicants being required to prove the source and legitimacy of their funds. It is an intense process that culminates in a rigorous interview with a Quebec official.
Once an applicant passes this test, an invitation to invest their money with the Quebec government is made. This can either be a payment of $800,000 CDN to the Quebec government or a payment of $220,000 to an approved financial intermediary such as a bank. In the latter case, the investor is essentially giving $220,000 of pre-paid interest to the bank so that the bank will give the government the $800,000.
Quebec Selection Certificate
At the end of the five-year investment, the $800,000 investment or loan is returned to the immigrant investor or the financial intermediary, as the case may be. Note that the investor does not get their $220,000 interest back if they went that route. Such an arrangement with the bank is a “walk away” deal. Either avenue, however, leads to the issuance of a Québec Selection Certificate (known as a CSQ en francais).
Once a CSQ has been issued, the immigrant investor is now eligible to apply for a Canadian permanent resident visa at the appropriate visa office outside of Canada.
Problems and Criticism
While all of this looks good on paper, there is no priority processing of applicants in the federal system and the processing can drag on for any number of years to the extent that the investor is eligible for a refund of their investment. In the case of people who participated in the loan program, the money is returned to the financial intermediary.
While persons who participate in the program are issued visas indicating that they are destined to live in Québec, there is no impediment to them leaving the province. As we mentioned before, the Canadian Charter guarantees mobility rights. You cannot make someone stay in a particular province even if they said they would. There has been some criticism in the media because of this, with claims that immigrant investors fleeing Quebec are causing inflation and house values to rise in British Columbia and Ontario. As Pace director of immigration Jim Metcalfe notes, “I have yet to see a definitive study proving this and at best I believe the data is anecdotal in nature.”
One of the objectives of the immigrant investor program was that the program run by Quebec and the federal government was an easy entrée to Canada and that once landed, immigrant investors would make further investments to the benefit of Canada. To my knowledge there has been no definitive longitudinal study of the economic effect of allowing immigrant investors to come into our country. Whatever the case, the Quebec immigrant investor program remains a very good option for investors who wish to immigrate to Canada.