A hundred Iranian immigrant investors have appealed to the Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister to approve their applications which have been held up for up to two years due to the economic sanctions imposed against Iran.
The Iranian applicants have been nominated by provincial immigrant investor programs run by British Columbia, Manitoba and Quebec, and are required to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in those provinces. But because of the economic sanctions on Iran imposed under the Special Economic Measures Act, the applicants cannot transfer money from Iran without a special permit from the Foreign Affairs Ministry.
Canada halted all financial transactions with Iran since 2011, and suspended diplomatic relations between the countries in 2012.
The applicants now say they will take legal action if their applications are not processed within 30 days.
“Some of these applications date back 24 months, without any word or decision being taken on [the part of the minister],” the applicants said in letters sent to the ministry. “It is hard to understand why no decision has been reached regarding these … demands which represent a substantial investment in the Canadian economy.”
Depending on the program’s requirements in different provinces, the applicants are required to invest anywhere between $200,000 to $800,000.
The latest appeal comes following a similar one in January, when 41 of 54 applicants to Quebec successfully obtained their permits after threats of legal action. Lawyers representing Iranian nationals who want to immigrate say the sanctions have been applied in ways that hurt law-abiding Iranian nationals rather than the government of Iran.
The spokesman for Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, François Lasalle, has defended the ministry saying, “The issuance of such a permit is not automatic; it is an exceptional action at the discretion of the Minister of Foreign Affairs. Canada has held a clear position on Iran’s support for terrorism, its nuclear ambitions, and its abysmal record on human rights.”
Speaking recently on the occasion of the Iranian new year, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Canada is open to “those who seek refuge from the Iranian regime.”