Quebec’s Department of Immigration, Diversity and Inclusion intends to accept a maximum of 1,750 new investment immigration applications between 20th January 2015 and 20th March 2015. The province shall accept a maximum of 1,200 applications from investors from the People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong, and Macao.
Under Quebec’s investment immigration program, investors are required to apply for issue of the selection certificates. Interested investors are free to apply for residency permit. The cases shall be analyzed and 1750 most-suitable cases shall be retained for issue of the selection certificate. In 2013, Quebec had accepted 1,250 applications from the total 5,000 applications that it had received.
Under the program, applicants with minimum net assets of $1.6 million are required to invest $800,000 through Investissement Québec into non-interest bearing government-backed Quebec government note with tenure of five years. The Quebec program requires investors to settle and reside in the province in the initial period after grant of residence.
The proceeds from the program are used to promote creation of jobs and economic growth through development of Quebec companies.
Attorney Colin Singer Commentary:
Since the Federal government eliminated its investor program in 2014, Quebec has become the face of Canada’s passive immigrant investor industry. At current thresholds this program is one of the cheapest in the residence through investment industry. Stakeholders expect the Quebec government to increase qualifying and investment thresholds from current levels when the program re-opens in the future.
(Liberal Chinese rules & new Investment Immigration program boost hopes)
2015 is expected to be a path breaking year for outbound Chinese investments to different parts of the world. A wide range of assets like hotels, golf courses, resorts, and even small businesses are on the radar of foreign investors from China.
Reports by international law experts indicates that non-financial sector offshore investments from China exceeded US$90 billion in 2013 and crossed $20 billion in just the first three months of 2014. The pace of Chinese investments into attractive investment destinations is set to increase after China liberalized its offshore-investment regulations in 2014.
Under the new rules, deals valued under $300 million will not require the previously-mandatory approval from Chinese regulators. The change, introduced in April 2014, has made it easier for Chinese citizens to purchase assets in other countries.
Along with popular investment destinations like London in the UK and New York and Los Angeles in the USA, Vancouver in Canada is expected to witness a significant rise in investments from China. Experts anticipate a huge rise in demand for commercial real estate in Vancouver and other parts of British Columbia in 2015.
In March 2014, a immigrant from China purchased the Sechelt Golf & Country Club with the intention of investing an additional $20 million to add improvements including a new hotel at the site. A marine resort at a 43-acre island off the coast of Pender Harbor was lapped up by Chinese investors who also purchased a movie theatre. Further, Chinese investors have shown interest in a multifamily development site in Gibsons in British Columbia.
Off-shore investments from China included the sale of an Okanagan lakeside resort and an equestrian centre in Langley. Investors from China are also supporting a $50 million Nanaimo hotel project.
In Vancouver, the 120-room Best Western Sands Hotel was sold to a company with Asian investment backing for a sum in excess of $30 million. This purchase is in addition to purchase of full stake in the Days Inn and a partial stake in hotel-condos in the Westin Grand hotel. All properties are situated in Vancouver.
An immigrant who was born in China with homes in Hong Kong and Vancouver invested in a 234-acre land parcel near Port Moody and Anmore in the southeastern part of Vancouver through a Vancouver-based company. This deal, amongst all other deals, indicates how offshore buyers from China are increasingly investing in real estate in and around Vancouver. Unlike the past, investors are pumping in more capital and are not afraid of participating in complex large-scale projects.
Real estate brokerages in Vancouver are seeing a significant rise in deals finalized by offshore buyers from Canada. Experts point out that the recent fall in the value of the Canadian dollar is likely to give additional fillip to inflow of offshore investments.
Along with good return on capital invested, the lifestyle offered by British Columbia is an added attraction for foreign investors. The buyer of the Sechelt Golf and Country Club pointed out that his investment decision was not motivated solely by the desire to make profit. He said that the quality of life offered by the province, the natural beauty of the place, and the benefits of leading a retired life in such a destination contributed to his investment decision.
An additional factor other than the liberalization of norms in China that has boosted investment in B.C is the new Provincial Nominee Program introduced by B.C’s administration. This is serving as a local trigger for the investment surge in the province. The PNP offers faster clearance of permanent residency permits for immigrants purchasing a business in the province.
The minimum investment requirements are $400,000 for entrepreneurs and $200,000 for regional entrepreneurs. The latter involves making investments outside in regions other than the Metro Vancouver and Abbotsford.
According to service providers assisting such investors, there is steady and sustained demand for the PNP, which is leading to increase in transactions involving purchase of local businesses. Such service providers work with business brokers in the province to identify attractive investment destinations for foreign investors from all over the world, especially from China.
According to such service providers, investors are keen on buying manufacturing companies with special preference towards industries in plastic, clothing, food and hospitality, and automobile sectors. Even retail stores and small hotels and motels are in demand, with the final choice depending on the personal work experience of the investor. Investors tend to avoid businesses with a big real estate component as this often involves a big down payment.
The PNP is also attractive foreign investment in areas beyond Vancouver and Abbotsford. Such transactions involve purchase of businesses from retiring owners. This has led to transactions for purchase of movie theatres and small service businesses in the interior parts of B.C.
Attorney Colin Singer Commentary:
The influx of business immigrants from China exceeds annual levels for such programs and places ongoing limitations to Provincial Nominee Programs across Canada. Currently, only Quebec places specific quotas on a territorial basis to manage inventory. Provinces offering investment based immigration programs need to consider the use of caps and quotas to manage inventory and preserve program integrity.
The new Canadian millionaire visa program, to be started by Canada as a replacement to its investment immigration program (IIP) that was discontinued in June this year, will only accept about 50 applications each year, according to immigration experts.
This news will come as a big blow to the tens of thousands of Chinese people whose applications were cancelled in June and who were waiting for the launch of the new program to get residency in Canada through investments.
The IIP required applicants to invest at least C$ 800,000 as an interest free loan to Canada in order to qualify for permanent residency. The program had become increasingly popular among citizens of Hong Kong and China, thousands of who migrated to Canada in the past 28 years. However, a recent deluge of applications led Canada to discontinue the program in June. At the time, about 60,000 applications were pending and had to be cancelled.
Critics point out that the new millionaire visa scheme is completely insignificant as it does not even begin to meet the high demand from Chinese investors. “What I was told was that this was a pilot project for 50 spots. The only reason they are rolling it out at all is because it was mentioned in the budget that they would, so they had to go ahead with it,” said a source from immigration industry.
Another report mentioned that the new investment requirement would be between C$1 million and C$2 million, with a cap at C$120 million, thus implying a total number of 60-120 permissible applications. But even so, the numbers are far smaller than the previous IIP.
Apparently, Citizenship and Immigration Canada has notified immigration firms that under the new venture capital investment program, applicants will be required to invest C$2 million in order to get permanent residency in the country. In addition, the investors will not have a say in where the money is invested, as it will be fully managed by the government. This decision was taken to prevent any kind of investment fraud.
Officially however, there has been no word from Citizenship and Immigration Canada, who released a statement saying that further details will be disclosed “in due course”. The statement also added that the IIP had been halted to “pave the way for new pilot programs that will actually meet Canada’s labor market and economic needs”.
Analysts say that potential investors will be sorely disappointed by this scheme, and will consider going to other countries. However, Vancouver immigration lawyer Richard Kurland feels that certain investors still stood a fair chance. “The reality is, if you have English-language skills and you are a successful business person with a lot of capital, you can likely find your way into Canada, with some sound professional advice,” says Kurland.
Canada’s IIP program had been operational since 1986, with over 180,000 people using it to immigrate to the country, including 30,000 arriving from Hong Kong alone. The scheme attracted a lot of criticism recently and was blamed for letting wealthy nationals buy their way into Canada. It was also believed that it had led to property prices in Canada rising sharply.
The number of recent applications rocketed up to an unmanageable level, resulting in the program having to be scrapped entirely in June. According to available statistics, there were 12,675 applications under IIP in 2010, with about 78% of these applications being filed in Hong Kong. Between 2005 and 2012, about 36,973 investor immigrants arrived in British Columbia, almost 70% of whom were Chinese.
There is a glimmer of hope for would-be investor immigrants looking to come to Canada however – the province of Quebec still runs a version of IIP, and will accept up to 1,750 applications in 2015.
Austria Citizenship Investor Programme
Many countries have provisions that allow the acquisition of citizenship based on an investment and/or a direct contribution to the country’s development. The Article 10 (6) of the Austrian Citizenship Act states that the government can provide citizenship to foreign persons in case of extraordinary merit. This can be in various forms, including investment or any other form of economic benefit being brought to Austria. However, investment is not enough to be granted citizenship of Austria. The investor must also make some type of an extraordinary contribution to Austria besides investment, such as by introducing new technologies to the country or creating employment opportunities for local citizens.
Requirements for Austria Citizenship Investor Programme
Austria’s citizenship-by-investment provisions require an applicant to actively invest in the Austrian economy in the form of a joint venture or direct investment in a business which creates new jobs or produces more export sales. The direct investment should be significant and passive investments in real estate, government bonds, etc. do not qualify.
The citizenship criteria requires the standard documentation – passports, birth and marriage certificates, etc. in addition to a completely clean personal record substantiated by certificate of no criminal record, business background information, a comprehensive curriculum vitae, and impeccable references.
Generally, the applicant will be required to abandon his current citizenship as a precondition for being given the Austrian citizenship. However, if citizenship has been granted to someone under the provisions of Article 10 (6) of the Citizenship Act, then the person can legally maintain his/her former citizenship.
Procedure and Processing Time
The application process for Austrian citizenship requires government approval at many levels. It is therefore important that each application is carefully prepared and informal approvals are obtained beforehand from the key ministries before the applicant makes the investment and formally starts the application process.
Law firm Henley & Partners advises interested applicants on suitable investment opportunities, liaises with the various government ministries and agencies, and also helps prepare their formal application. The procedure would require a complete background check of the applicant and a personal interview in Austria.
On an average, it takes about 12-18 months to process a citizenship application in Austria. The final decision is made by the government of Austria. Successful applicants are granted full citizenship of the Republic of Austria and can apply for a passport immediately afterwards. Passports are usually issued within a few days of application.
Such grants of citizenship are never published or reported to other countries, as they falls under the Austrian’s government’ provisions relating to privacy/official secrets.
Benefits of Austrian Citizenship
An Austrian citizenship allows you to live and work anywhere in the European Union at any time. It also allows you to reside in Switzerland, which is very popular for its tax-advantaged residence.
Once you are granted Austrian citizenship, you are not subject to tax in the country unless you reside there. The Austrian passport has an excellent reputation and it allows you to do visa-free travel in Europe and also to the USA.
An Austrian citizenship also allows your family to enjoy full citizenship for life, which can be passed on to future generations by descent.
Cyprus Citizenship and Permanent Residency
Cyprus is an island country in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea. It is an influential country in Europe, featuring excellent infrastructure and a very strong banking system which is known for its good data protection and confidentiality. Cyprus is a big hub for international trade. It is a member of the European Union and is expected to join the Schengen scheme in the near future.
Cyprus is a hot-spot for tourists, with its attractive beaches and lively night life. The country enjoys a pleasant tropical-Mediterranean climate and gets about 300 days of sunshine every year. The capital city is Nicosia; other big cities are Limossol, Larnaka and Pafos.
Benefits of Cyprus Citizenship:
- Friendly English-speaking people
- Excellent infrastructure in terms of transportation and telecommunication
- Attractive tax laws and incentives for investors
- Good climate, beautiful beaches and lively nightlife
- High quality of life
- Popular as a retirement and holiday destination
Non-EU residents who want to apply for permanent residency in Cyprus can apply for an Immigration Permit issued by the government of Cyprus in lieu of fulfilment of certain investment criteria.
Application Procedure and Processing Time
An application needs to be submitted by the candidate personally or through an agent to the Civil Registry and Migration Department of Cyprus along with a fee of €500 per application.
Each application must be placed in a standard envelope along with a list of all accompanying documents. Each accompanying document of the application must be punctured, numbered in blue ink on all pages, and inserted in the envelope along with the main application.
Once the application has been processed, it is sent to the Minister of Interior through the Permanent Secretary. The Ministry may ask for a personal interview of the candidate. Provided all documents have been submitted on time and necessary investment has been made by the candidate, it takes up to two months to examine the application and provide the final decision.
Inclusion of Family Members
The applicant can include the following categories of family members in his/her application:
- Spouse or children below 18 years of age
- Unmarried children between 18-25 years of age, provided they are students or undergraduates, and are financially dependent on the investor. In such cases, the investor must have an additional annual income of €5,000 for every such dependent child.
- Children above 18 year of age can be included in the application if:
- The child is not financially dependent on the applicant
- Besides the mandatory real estate investment, the applicant must also make an extra real estate investment of minimum €300,000 (excluding VAT and other taxes) for each child applying for the permit.
- The applicant’s child must submit all required documents and submit proof of annual income of a minimum of €30,000, along with proof of a deposit of a minimum of €30,000 in a financial institution in Cyprus with a minimum lock-in period of three years.
Other Eligibility Conditions
- The investor applicant and his/her dependent should show proof of a clean criminal record and should not be a threat or pose a risk to public order and security in Cyprus.
- The applicant and his/her spouse cannot seek, directly or indirectly, employment in Cyprus. However, dividend income from a company registered in Cyprus in which the applicant and/or spouse are shareholder(s) is not a disqualification.
- The applicant and his/her family members included in the Immigration Permit must visit Cyprus at least once in two years.
Investment Criteria for Cyprus Investor Immigration Programme
The following conditions must be met by the investor for obtaining investment immigration in Cyprus:
- Deposit a minimum sum of €30,000 in an account with a financial institution in Cyprus. This deposit should be confirmed by a letter issued by the financial institution. The deposit should be made for a minimum period of three years. The deposit should have been transferred to Cyprus from abroad.
- Provide evidence that the applicant alone or with his/her spouse has a minimum annual income of €30,000, earned outside Cyprus.
- Purchase a property worth minimum of €300,000 excluding VAT and other charges.
Malta Citizenship by Investment Programme
The Individual Investor Programme of the Republic of Malta was started this year under Legal Notice 47. As per this programme, a person can become a Maltese citizen by contributing to the economic and social development of the country. Upon successful contribution of the same, the investor and his/her family will be granted a certificate of naturalization.
Malta has been a member of the European Union since 2004. A Maltese citizenship allows you to do visa-free travel in more than 160 countries of the world. It also gives you the right of work and establishment in all nations that are members of the European Union.
Malta has a history that dates back to more than 7500 years. Today, it is a stable and prosperous country in Europe with a democratically-elected government and an independent judicial system. The country boasts of high standards of living with excellent educational and healthcare systems. The tourism and financial sectors are highly developed and the main drivers of the Maltese economy. The country is also popular for its pleasant climate and low crime rates.
A Maltese citizenship will entitle you to the following benefits:
- Visa-free travel to more than 160 countries in the world
- A Maltese passport along with your existing passport
- Opportunity to take advantage of their liberal tax setup so as to have better tax planning benefits
- Personal security in an EU country that enjoys political stability
- High quality of life through access to excellent infrastructure and good quality healthcare
- Restriction-free access to high quality education for your children
€650,000 – 70% goes into the National Development and Social Fund.
Non-refundable payment of €10,000.
Every child below 18 years of age
Every unmarried child between 18-26 years of age
Every dependant parent above 55 years of age
Once the investor’s application is approved in principle, the following needs to be done:
- Obtain a global health insurance policy for main applicant and dependants
- Purchase a residential property in Malta worth at least €350,000 for at least five years, or rent a residential immovable property with minimum annual rent of €16,000 for at least five years
- Invest in other approved instruments in Malta for an amount of €150,000 and hold them for at least five years
It takes a minimum of six months and maximum of two years to process a citizenship application. The maximum period includes the one-year mandatory period of residency in Malta.
Investment Immigration: Hungary Business Immigration Programme
Residence Investment Programme
Hungary is a developed country in Central Europe, and is a member of the European Union Schengen Area. The country has a vibrant economy and high quality of life, even though the cost of living is significantly lower than other European countries.
Individuals can seek permanent EU residency through an investment programme offered by the country. This programme is hugely popular with foreign investors who desire to settle in Europe. The main benefit of this programme is that an applicant can invest €250,000 into government bonds and immediately get permanent residency of Hungary.
Benefits of Hungary Business Immigration Programme
- The investment requirement is low, and there is zero risk
- The process of application is easy and fast
- A Hungarian residence permit allows the individual to stay in the territory of Hungary during its validity period
- The residence permit also allows the individual to stay in other Schengen countries for a period of 90 days in every six months
- There are no rigid requirements for language, minimum education, business background, sources of fund, etc.
- Applicant’s entire family can get permanent residency on his/her basis
- There is no requirement for minimum residence before applying for permanent residency
- Resident permit holder has access to free education
The validity of a Hungarian residence permit which is issued in the national economic interest is five years. It can be extended for another five years depending on each case.
The applying candidate must have a valid travel document and it should have a validity of at least three more months than the period of residence that is applied for.
Submission of Form:
One needs to submit the application for residence permit at the consular office in Hungary or at an authorized office functioning from the applicant’s country of permanent or regular residence. Since biometric data needs to be recorded by the authorities, the applicant should submit the application for residence permit personally.
Application for extension of the residence permit must be filed at the Regional Directorate.
Inclusion of Family Members:
A residence permit that is being sought on grounds of national economic interest entitles the applicant to include the following family members in the application:
- Minor children
No additional investment is required for the above family members, however, the applicant needs to submit the following documents:
- Two photographs
- Valid travel documents of the family members
- Proof of relations
- Proof of applicant’s ability to provide for the dependents – their living allowance, health care and housing
Investment Immigration: Croatia Residence Investor Programme
Croatia Residence Investor Programme
Croatia is a small country in southeast Europe, boasting of a beautiful 6,000 km coastline on the Adriatic Sea. The country consists of more than 1,100 islands, 66 of which are inhabited. Croatia’s coastline is considered to be the most beautiful in Europe, with its gorgeous bays, inlets, beaches and coves. The country also has a lot of places of historic interest like Split, Pula, Korcula, Dubrovnik, Hvar, and Trogir. There are four historic sites on the Adriatic coast which are labelled as World Heritage sites by UNESCO.
In Croatia, most of its islands receive more than 2,600 hours of sun in a year. The country is divided into two parts – a Latin-influenced coast and a more Central European interior. The official language is Croatian, but English is widely spoken, especially in larger cities. Croatia’s capital Zagreb has about 800,000 inhabitants.
Croatia used to be the second largest state in former Yugoslavia. It declared independence in 1991, and thereafter a four-year war with Serbia followed. Most of Croatia remained untouched by the war, and this distracted attention from its 1,100 islands, clear seas, romantic fishing villages, breath-taking beaches, beautiful vineyards, Roman remains and medieval towns.
Croatia is a sovereign state. In 1992, it became a full member of the United Nations. The 2000 elections in Croatia established the new free-market-oriented government in power, which is determined to attract foreign investment. The social, political, and economic situation of Croatia is improving consistently.
In 1991, the Constitution of the Republic of Croatia came into effect. It establishes Croatia as a parliamentary democracy and guarantees the right and inviolability of private property. In addition, any rights gained through investment of capital are constitutionally guaranteed. Foreign investors are also guaranteed free transfer and repatriation of profits and capital. Asset forfeiture is permitted only after a final court decision.
Croatia, before separating from Yugoslavia, had a fully-developed tourist industry that attracted about 10 million visitors every year. This industry is now in a phase of recovery, however, Croatia offers several excellent opportunities to investor immigrants.
Advantages of Residing in Croatia:
- It has one of the most beautiful coastlines in Europe with unspoilt nature
- Some types of incomes can be received 100% tax-free
- There is a possibility of using offshore structures for tax planning
- There can be good fiscal incentives to make substantial investments
Investment Immigration: Belgium Immigrant Investor Programme
Residence by Investment Programme
With a rich global presence, Belgium is the financial capital of Europe. It is a very investor-friendly nation and has favourable tax laws for businesses. Unlike other countries, Belgium doesn’t have the “citizenship by investment” programme, however, it offers “residence by investment” opportunity for business entrepreneurs and investors. It is the only European country where you can become eligible to apply for citizenship just after three years of continued lawful residence. And after seven years of residence, you qualify for “citizenship by right”. Belgium’s residence programme therefore is very suited for investors and businessmen who want to reside in Europe.
Benefits of Belgium Residency:
- The country has a strong European presence
- There is no minimum stay in a year requirement
- One can apply for Belgian citizenship just after three years of residence
- There are no restrictions on dual citizenship
- One can enjoy visa-free travel to other EU countries
- Shorter processing time
Foreigners and non-EU residents can apply for a Belgian residence permit under their investor or business category – this usually requires forming a new Belgium company with an office, providing opportunities for employment. An owner of a company in Belgium can easily get a Belgian residence permit. Investors who start their own companies can get a residence permit in 3-8 months. The investor will initially be issued a temporary permit with validity of one year; after the end of this period, the investor can renew the residence permit annually for three years. Thereafter, the investor qualifies for a “permanent residence permit”.
The most popular company types in Belgium are BVBA and SPRL. The BVBA company in Belgium works like a Limited Liability Company, and requires share capital of at least €18,600. According to Belgian regulations, taxes are around 30% and returns need to be filed annually. Investors can considerably minimize tax liability with proper tax planning.
Investors should have a minimum of €300,000 at their disposal if they want to apply for the investor residency programme in Belgium. The fee for applications varies with each case. A residence application involves the following minimum fees (which excludes VAT, but may apply depending on the client’s case):
For main applicant:
- €95,000 to obtain a residence permit for the first year
- €25,000 for renewal of residence permit in the second year and subsequent years
- €35,000 for making a citizenship application, which the investor resident will qualify for after third year of residence
For family members (spouses and children under 18 years of age):
- €20,000 per member to obtain a residence permit for the first year
- €10,000 for renewal of residence permit in the second year and subsequent years
- €20,000 for making a citizenship application
Company incorporation costs:
- Approximately €10,000 to €20,000 in the first year for establishing a company and paying directors’ fee, and approximately €5,000 per year thereafter
- Approximately €6,000 per year for office rental space
- Approximately €1,000 per month to cover costs of accounting, tax returns and company maintenance, along with private accommodation
Over the last eight years, the surge in Chinese immigrants to Prince Edward Island (PEI) has brought about a transformation in the Island’s economy.
From the start of 2006, thousands of new immigrants began arriving at Prince Edward Island. A significant number of them hailed from China. Most of these immigrants came as immigrant investors through the provincial nominee program, which required these immigrants to invest in a business on the Island. Over the past eight years, many of these immigrants have settled themselves in Prince Edward Island and have started their own business ventures too.
When she left China in 2010 with her husband, Vicki Li had not even heard of bagels. In China, they had been running a successful steel supply business; that too, in a province that had one of the highest unemployment rates in the country. Today, although she is not a Canadian citizen yet, she is the owner and operator of the Great Canadian Bagel in Charlottetown. She liked living in the PEI and so she bought the business to support the family.
In China, John Li worked for one of China’s largest food corporations for 20 years. He was in a senior role in the company’s management in 2011, when he quit his job and immigrated to PEI. Upon arriving in PEI, Li launched Golden Bridge Marketing and Consulting. In conjunction with his three employees, he helps the PEI government and the Island food producers establish connections with the markets in China, which represent a potentially huge market for Canada’s very high quality foodstuff.
Gavian Fang came to PEI from China as a student in 2009 and attended the University of Prince Edward Island. She graduated in May 2012 before moving to Toronto with her husband, where she worked in a bubble teashop. Six months later, they returned to PEI, where she started her own bubble teashop – Charlotte Tea in the Confederation Court Mall in January 2013.
Jason Lee is the program coordinator for PEI Connectors, which works to connect newcomers to Prince Edward Island to the existing business community. He said, “These are people coming from a different country with different cultures, different business styles, in many cases there’s a significant language barrier. They were getting here on P.E.I. and they were looking for some help”. PEI Connectors has helped over more than 260 clients, thus far. All of these 260 clients – barring a dozen, are from China.
Source: CBC News