Federal Immigrant Investor Program to Launch Early This Year

Wealthy foreign nationals from places like Dubai are keen to apply for Canadian permanent residency through the Federal Immigrant Investor Program when the program starts up again this year (Ranjit Laxman)

In an interview in late December, Canadian Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said that he expected his department to launch the Federal Immigrant Investor Program sometime in the first half of this year.

The program, which grants permanent residency to those with assets worth over $1,600,000 in exchange for a no-interest five-year loan of $800,000, is currently not accepting any new applications as the Department of Citizenship and Immigration decides on new, more demanding selection rules for the program.

The department says the 700 applicant annual quota for the program was filled in 30 minutes in 2011, as wealthy foreigners chartered private planes to be the first to submit their application to the Nova Scotia intake office.

In the interview with Postmedia News (via immigration news site workpermit.com) Kenney said that the government would like to raise the amount of money applicants are required by the program to invest and require the investment to be an active one where the applicant assumes some risk rather than a passive loan with a guaranteed return like under current rules.

Asked about the investor program’s 25,000 application backlog, Kenney said he doesn’t contemplate wiping it out like his department did with the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) backlog.

He said they are considering offering a fast-track option to those whose applications are in the backlog in exchange for the applicant meeting the program’s new requirements.

Canada’s Federal Investor Program for Immigrants in Limbo

The size of the loan applicants are required to make under the Federal Immigrant Investor Program increased from $400,000 to $800,000 in 2010, and is expected to increase again in the near future, due to huge demand for Canadian permanent residency status from wealthy individuals abroad.

The Federal Immigrant Investor Program (FIIP), which allows foreign individuals with net worths of more than $1.6 million to become Canadian permanent residents by lending a provincial government $800,000 for five years without interest, is scheduled to start accepting applications in two weeks to fill a new annual quota, but it is still not clear as to whether the federal government will suspend, modify, or allow the program to continue as it is until a new program has been designed to replace it.

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney had previously said that the FIIP should be changed to require applicants to make more active and long-term investments in Canada than the current five year loan requirement, or increase the sum they must lend without interest, given the huge demand for the program and room the government has to increase the investment required under it.

Last year, the program’s quota of 700 was filled in 30 minutes, with some wealthy foreigners chartering private jets to be the first to submit their applications to the Sydney NS office when it started accepting applications.

The Minister said that the size of the investment that the program would require would depend in part on whether the US government renews its investor program in September. If it doesn’t, Canada would see even greater demand for permanent residence from wealthy foreigners, and be able to increase the price by a greater margin.

The recently passed budget bill also grants the Department of Immigration and Citizenship the power to craft its own short term immigration programs, each limited to 2,750 applications per year, to meet the demands of changing economic conditions, and the department is looking to use this new power to create complementary investor programs with alternative requirements for applicants, like making an investment in a Canadian startup.