Canada formally launched its Immigrant Investor Venture Capital pilot program, accepting applications from wealthy investors who are interested in moving to Canada. It has been announced that up to 500 applications will be accepted, however only up to 60 investor visas will be issued to successful applicants.
Applications will begin being accepted from January 28 through February 11, 2015 or earlier if the quota of 500 applications is reached beforehand the government has announced.
Canada Immigration Minister Chris Alexander claims the program is designed to attract foreign investors who can provide a significant boost to the economy of Canada. The pilot program is also expected to create several jobs. “This will create employment … it’s a pilot program and we are testing it to see how it will go,” according to Costas Menegakis, secretary to the immigration minister.
The limit of 60 visas has caused disappointment among several investors who had been waiting for the revamped program to launch after its predecessor had been scrapped last year for having become a fraud-infested “cash for citizenship” scheme. However the government has said that this limit can be modified later on depending on the success of the program. “The original 60 is to be able to evaluate if the new pilot program is achieving its goals and to ensure that it is also working in the best interest of Canada’s economy. It could be expanded after the review of this first step,” said a government source.
Under the new Immigrant Investor Venture Capital program, an applicant with a minimum net worth of $10 million must make a non-guaranteed investment of at least $2 million over a period of 15 years. The investment will be invested into a fund managed by BDC Capital, and will be used to “invest in innovative Canadian startups with high growth potential.” The investors will receive periodic proceeds from their investment.
Potential investors who can prove that their net worth is at least $50 million through “legally obtained” sources can secure an exemption from one of the four requirements under the investor program including language testing and education equivalency.
Critics of the program have said that such investor visas are unfair to hardworking caregivers who have to wait for years to obtain permanent residency in Canada. “I can’t help but think about the women who come into my office who went through the live-in caregiver program and they were promised to get landed status and bring their children over to Canada and they are still waiting … it just doesn’t cut it,” says Andrew Cash, NDP critic for multiculturalism.
The previous investor immigration program had been deemed unsuccessful leading to its termination last year. “Research indicated that immigrant investors under the previous program were less likely than other immigrants to stay in Canada over the medium to long term. Also, they contributed relatively little to the Canadian economy, earning very little income and paying very little tax,” said a government statement.
Under the scrapped program, applicants were required to invest $800,000 as a repayable loan into Canada’s economy. The program had been described by critics as a “cash for citizenship” scheme and was reportedly being abused with a large number of fraudulent cases. In 2012, the program was cancelled due to oversubscription which led to a large backlog of many thousands of unprocessed applications.