One of the world’s most popular wealth-migration schemes, Quebec’s Immigrant Investor Programme, has failed to reach its target of applications for the first time, as wealthy Chinese look for alternatives to Canada’s turmoil-plagued millionaire-migration systems.
The application window for the 2014 intake was pushed back three times until March 2015, to give applicants more time to satisfy strict new documentation rules regarding wealth and income sources.
Quebec’s immigration ministry said last week that instead of the target 1,750 household applications, which would typically represent about 6,400 immigrants, only 1,400 applications, were received before the window closed. That was down 74 per cent compared to 2013, when 5,389 mostly-Chinese applications were received in a two-week application window, easily surpassing the same target.
Ministry spokesman Jonathan Lavallée said the 1,400 included 908 applications from mainland Chinese millionaires and 17 from Hong Kong permanent residents; this too fell short of the 1,200 cap for all of China.
Lavallée said the 2015 application window had been increased to five months, “A longer intake period was established to allow more time for potential investors to prepare their application and find a financial intermediary who will sign their investment agreement.”
The Quebec IIP has long been popular, but even more rich Chinese switched their attentions to the scheme after Ottawa froze its federal IIP in 2012 then shut it down entirely last year. This helps explain the 2013 rush for Quebec applications.
From 2002 to 2014, approximately 65,151 wealthy immigrants and family members were approved under the Quebec IIP from, out of which two-thirds were from mainland China. However, about 90 per cent later leave Quebec for elsewhere in Canada.
But experts assert that the onerous documentation requirement introduced last year had turned off some rich Chinese from applying to the QIIP.
Canada’s wealth-migration systems have been in flux since 2010 when a flood of thousands of applications by mainland millionaires at Canada’s Hong Kong consulate forced the freezing and ultimate cancellation of the federal IIP.
The scheme devised to replace the federal IIP, the Immigrant Investor Venture Capital scheme, has proven to be a failure.
Despite the relatively low number of 2014 applications to the QIIP, a backlog of past-years’ applications will ensure the flow of rich immigrants to Canada under the scheme for years. As of January 2015, there were 3,415 backlogged QIIP household applications, while approvals for QIIP visas had risen by over 60 per cent from last year.
However, some rich Chinese were looking for alternatives, in particular the US EB-5 wealth-migration scheme, requiring a US$500,000 investment.