INVESTOR IMMIGRATION PROGRAM
Canada is not only the second largest country in the world, but also one of the wealthiest. It is regularly voted one of the best countries to live in, as it is known for a high standard of living, an open and tolerant culture, a clean environment and a low crime rate. It is also a place where a good lifestyle and a high quality education system are affordable.
The right to enter and remain in Canada is regulated under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act of 2002 (IRPA), and the relevant regulations that were provided under the Act.
The regulations deal with the specific requirements for Immigration to Canada under the various categories.
The Province of Quebec shares with the Canadian Federal Government the selection of immigrants who wish to establish themselves in Quebec under the Federal-Quebec Agreement of 1991. Quebec administers its own immigration programs under the Immigration Act of Quebec and its Regulations. However, persons selected under any of the Quebec Programs may reside in any Province of their choice.
There are several ways to become a permanent resident in Canada. Each program has a different set of conditions that should be met. The programs are listed below:
- Federal Skilled Worker Program, (FSWP) for applicants who want to settle and work in Canada
- Quebec-Selected Skilled Workers, (QSSW) for applicants who want to settle and work in Quebec
- Federal Skilled Trades Program, (FSTP) designed by federal government with provincial input for applicants whose trades are presently in demand on the Canadian labor market
- Canadian Experience Class, (CEC) for applicants who have already obtained a minimum of 12 months of qualified recent Canadian work experience, or have recently graduated from a Canadian university and want to reside permanently in Canada
- Investors, Entrepreneurs and Self-Employed, for business applicants who are either passive investors (Quebec Immigrant Investor Program) or want to own and manage a business in Canada that adds to the economy by creating jobs (Quebec Entrepreneur Program)
- Federal Start-Up Visa Program is the first of its kind in the world, linking immigrant entrepreneurs with experienced private sector organizations that have expertise in working with start-ups
- Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) is a special category specific to a province or territory, that can nominate a specific person who wants to settle and work in that province or territory based on employment or business investment
- Family Class Sponsorship is designed for family members of a permanent resident or Canadian citizen
NB: On 1 January 2015, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) introduced a new express entry system for selecting applicants under programs 1, 2, 4 and part of section 7 above In July 2014, the Federal Immigrant Investor Program (FIIP) was officially cancelled both for new applicants and for all applicants in the pipeline, except for those where a decision was made to accept the file prior to 11 February 2014.The Government later intends to introduce a new immigrant investor venture capital fund pilot project, which will require immigrants to make a significantly larger investment in the Canadian economy. This does not apply to the Quebec Immigrant Investor Program for now.
Under the Canada-Quebec Accord, the province of Quebec operates its own business immigration program. The Quebec Immigrant Investor Program (QIIP) is very similar to the FIIP and is considered to be the most flexible Canadian immigration program as it boasts the shortest processing time. The applicant must meet similar requirements as the FIIP set, except the management experience is defined differently (i.e. management of business on a full-time basis for more than 30 hours per week or 1,950 hours per year, relating to a position of control, budgeting and direction, in a profitable business and related to a prescribed percentage of the equity of a qualified business). Professionals (lawyers, architects, etc.) and government managers are eligible to apply under QIIP (they were not eligible under FIIP). Gifts, inheritance and the candidate’s spouse assets may be included in the calculation of a candidate’s assets. The authorities may waive the interview, and an investor who has acquired a permanent resident visa will not be subject to any obligations or restrictions during his stay in Canada.The QIIP accepts a maximum of 1,750 applications per year with a cap of 1,250 applications per country. This restriction does not apply to applicants who can demonstrate by a standardized test that they have an advanced intermediate knowledge of French. The most likely last opening under these existing advantageous criteria will be in the 1st quarter of 2015. If more than 1,750 applications are received, Authorized Financial Intermediaries will select the best applications.
PROCEDURES AND TIME FRAME
The application process under the Canadian programs is very well regulated. In order to apply under the residence programs, an application must be submitted, usually to the applicant’s local Canadian embassy or consulate, or online. At the same time, a federal file number will be assigned to the case, allowing applicants to check the status of the immigration application at any time.Once approval has been given, the passport is submitted to the applicant’s local Canadian embassy or consulate, and the permanent residence visa will be issued. Once the person arrives in Canada with the visa, the person is granted landed status.It is important to note that during the application process – which can take up to three years or more in some cases – and until the applicant has been granted landed status, the applicant is generally not allowed to enter Canada.Application processing times differ, depending under which category and where the application was submitted. The CIC website gives a breakdown of estimated processing times.Note that in order to maintain permanent resident status, physical presence for two out of five years in Canada is required.In the February 2014 budget, tougher requirements to apply for Canadian citizenship were introduced.
One must now meet the following requirements, amongst others:
- Be a permanent resident
- Pay a CAD 10,000 fee
- Be 18 years of age or older
- Have lived in Canada for at least four full years out of six preceding the application, and have an adequate knowledge of either English or French (to qualify as having lived a full year in Canada, the applicant must be present for at least 183 days in Canada)
Canada allows dual citizenship.
Canada taxes residents on their worldwide income. Nonresidents are only taxed on Canadian-source income. An individual will be deemed to be a resident for tax purposes in Canada if the person spends 183 or more days a year in Canada, or if this person has significant personal ties to Canada, such as familial, economic and social ties to the country (i.e. the common law test of residence to prove where a person has the closest ties is applied).Provincial income tax rates are determined separately and are added to the federal rates to arrive at various combined marginal rates for individuals; these can currently reach up to approximately 54%. There are no inheritance or gift taxes, and Canada does not levy wealth taxes. However, there are capital gains taxes (at a reduced rate for residents). These apply instead of gift or inheritance tax: a transmission of wealth as a result of a gift or death does not lead to any gift or estate tax; instead, there is a deemed disposition at fair market value resulting in capital gains tax payable by the person giving the gift, or by the estate of the deceased.The 2014 Federal budget also removed a provision in Canada’s Income Tax Act which allowed new immigrants to Canada to benefit from the creation of an ‘immigration trust’ that sheltered any foreign earned income, and capital gains earned from the assets held in an immigration trust, from taxation for five years.
Canada has an extensive network of double tax agreements.
- One of the highest standards of living in the world
- Affordable, high quality education
- Multi-cultural, tolerant and vibrant cities
- Excellent place to do business with access to the entire North American market (NAFTA)
- Citizenship available after four years of residence
5 Stars Europe is one of the leaders in residence and citizenship planning companies. Each year, hundreds of wealthy individuals, families and their advisors rely on our expertise and experience in this area. Our highly qualified professionals work together as one team in over 10 offices worldwide.
The firm also runs a leading government advisory practice. We have raised more than USD 300 million in foreign direct investment and have been involved in strategic consulting and the design, set-up and operation of several of the world’s most successful residence and citizenship programs.