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.
The new millionaire migration program to be launched by Canada soon will require applicants to undergo intensive background checks and scrutiny by private-sector forensic accountants and auditors, according to tendering documents on a government procurement website.
Although no official announcement has been made about the upcoming Immigrant Investor Venture Capital (IIVC) program, the documents on the procurement website point to a new thorough and extensive examination process being implemented by Citizenship and Immigration Canada, aiming to ensure that all the wealth invested under this scheme is lawfully obtained by applicants. In addition to financial audits, applicants will also be investigated for any possible history of criminal activity or problematic political involvement.
Experts believe that this increased scrutiny might pose problems for potential investors from certain countries. While the Investor Immigration Program (IIP) that was scrapped in June this year had also required proof that the investments made under the program were lawfully procured, applicants were not subjected to as much scrutiny as will be required now under the new IIVC program’s due diligence process.
“Now they are talking about a third-party, private-sector, accountable audit, as opposed to an immigration officer looking at a bunch of numbers and trying to come up with a sound rationale for whether the funds were obtained illegally or not,” said one source.
The IIP 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. Under the program, each applicant was required to provide at least C$ 800,000 as an interest-free loan to the Canadian government in exchange for permanent residency in the country.
The new IIVC is the government’s promised replacement, although it has been criticized as being completely insignificant because its small quota 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.
Additionally, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) has apparently notified immigration firms that under the IIVC, applicants will have no say in where their money is invested, as it will be fully managed by the government.
The stringent checks and appraisal conditions for the IIVC have been introduced seemingly because of China’s complaints that immigration programs such as Canada’s IIP had been helping Chinese criminals escape the country. China’s foreign ministry has even accused American and Canadian authorities of not repatriating fugitive Chinese businessmen and individuals. The Chinese government further believes that the US and Canada are the most preferred destinations for white-collar criminals fleeing China.
The tender criteria of the new IIVC has further revealed that the documents submitted by applicants will be checked by auditors within a period of three weeks, extendable if required. CIC has also warned that any lack of cooperation from the applicant which hinders the audit work will be noted as well. The final audit report is given to the applicant who in turn would have be submit it to CIC along with the complete application form. This way applicants would have the chance to cancel their applications in case the audits reveal something that puts them in an unfavorable light, like dubious finances or criminal activities.
Investment Immigration: Antigua and Barbuda Investor Citizenship
Antigua and Barbuda has an Investor Citizenship programme which enables one to acquire direct citizenship of the country without any complicated residency requirements.
Benefits of having a citizenship of Antigua and Barbuda:
- Hassle-free movement through the Caribbean CARICOM countries
- Visa-free travel in the Schengen countries of the European Union
- Family members can also acquire citizenship without any additional investment requirements.
There are three investment options offered by Antigua and Barbuda Investor Citizenship Programme:
- Investment in National Development Fund:
The National Development Fund (NDF) is a non-profit fund which was set up in 2006 to run government projects, private-public partnerships and other government approved charitable investments. An investor can acquire citizenship in Antigua and Barbuda by investing a minimum amount of US $250,000 in the NDF.
Through such an investment citizenship can be acquired by the investor, his/her spouse, any dependent children and dependent parents above 65 years of age, without any further investment requirements.
- Investment in Real Estate
Another option for acquiring citizenship of Antigua and Barbuda is to invest a minimum amount of US $400,000 in real estate property in the country. Such an investment must be made in officially-approved real estate only.
A joint investment can also be done wherein two or more applicants can jointly apply for citizenship, provided that each applicant makes a minimum investment of $400,000.
The applicant cannot sell or dispose of the property bought under this option for a period of five years. This is allowed only if the applicant buys an alternative real estate property approved by the government and which meets the permissible investment criteria for acquisition of citizenship by investment in Antigua and Barbuda.
- Investment in Business
Investors can also acquire citizenship of Antigua and Barbuda by investing in a business approved by the Citizenship by Investment Unit. There are two ways in which investors can use this option:
- Make a minimum investment of $1,500,000 in an approved business
- Make a joint investment application with one or more persons in an approved business where the total minimum investment should be a sum of $5 million. In such an investment, each applicant should contribute at least $400,000.
The application process for all options stated above requires the investor to obtain an application form from a locally authorized agent licensed by the Citizenship by Investment Unit of the Government of Antigua and Barbuda. The completed application form should be submitted along with necessary documents and payment of requisite due diligence fees and 10% of the total government processing fee. The application will be processed by the agency implementing the programme within three months of submission.
A Certificate of Registration of Citizenship will be issued to the successful applicants and all eligible dependents.
In order to get the passport, the investor should submit an application along with necessary documents and the Certificate of Registration of Citizenship.
The investor applicant must take the oath or affirmation of allegiance when he/she first visits Antigua and Barbuda. However this requirement can also be fulfilled at an embassy or high commission in the investor’s country of residence.
The passport fee is $300 per person.
Antigua and Barbuda Investor Citizenship: Fees
Due diligence fees
Dependent child aged 0-11
Dependent child aged 12-17
Dependent child aged 18-25
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.
Dominica Citizenship through Investment
The Commonwealth of Dominica is famously known as the Nature Isle of the Caribbean because of the county’s exceptional natural beauty and splendour.
The country offers an Economic Citizenship Programme which has the following benefits:
- Get full citizenship based on investment
- Enjoy a liberalized tax regime
- No need to give up existing citizenship
- No requirement of prior residence in Dominica
- Have a second passport which makes travelling to other countries convenient
- Visa-free travel to several countries including the United Kingdom and other British Commonwealth countries
Investment Requirements for Dominica Citizenship by Investor Programme
Investor and spouse
Investor, spouse, and two children below 18 years of age
If investor has more than two children below 18 years of age
US$50,000 per child from third child onwards
A separate application is required for family members who are above 18 years of age.
Fees for Dominica Citizenship by Investor Programme
US$1,000 per investor
US$200 per applicant
US$550 per applicant
East Caribbean $100
It takes a minimum of eight weeks to process the application. A basic knowledge of the English language is required for each applicant.
Documents Required for Dominica Citizenship by Investor Programme
- Birth certificate
- Proof of clean criminal record
- Proof of educational qualification
- Proof of source of funds
- Professional reference
- Recommendation letter of educational institution of each child
- Proof of employment or business
- Recommendation letter of banker
- Medical certificate
- Proof of marriage and divorce
- Proof of payment of all requisite fees
Application Procedure for Dominica Citizenship by Investor Programme
To apply for citizenship under Dominica’s Economic Citizenship Programme, the applicant needs to submit the necessary documents along with the application form. On approval, the investor will need to deposit the investment in stipulated accounts. Once this is done and final approval is obtained, the investor can apply for Dominican passport after attending a personal interview and taking the oath of allegiance.
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: Saint Kitts and Nevis Immigrant Investor Programme
Saint Kitts and Nevis is a small country in the West Indies, and forms part of the Lesser Antilles. It is located about 2000 kilometres southeast of Miami, USA. The country is a democracy and the Queen of England is its Head of State. The capital of the country is at Basseterre on the larger St. Kitts island, which also serves as the political centre of the nation.
The Citizenship-by-Investment Programme was started by St. Kitts and Nevis in 1984. It is the oldest programme of this kind in the world. Under this programme, the Citizenship by Investment Unit of St. Kitts and Nevis has laid out rigid investment requirements and conducts thorough due diligence so as to attract investor citizens of good character.
Benefits of Citizenship of St Kitts and Nevis
- No minimum residency required
- No personal visit required
- Visa-free travel to all countries in the Schengen zone
- Visa free travel to Canada, Switzerland, the UK and Ireland
- No income or wealth tax
- Involves a simple application procedure with minimum formalities
- Family members can be included in the application form
- Right to reside in any of the 15 Caribbean community countries
- Citizenship for lifetime
- Second passport with permission to keep existing citizenship
Investors above 18 years of age can apply for Citizenship by Investment under two different options:
- Investment in Real Estate
- Investment in the Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation
Investment in Real Estate
To qualify under this option, the applicant must invest a minimum of US $400,000 in designated real estate. Joint investment option is also available, where each investor should make an investment of the minimum amount.
The application is reviewed by the government and the final decision is taken by the Cabinet.
The investor has to bear all costs related to the purchase of the real estate – conveyance fee, compulsory insurance fund contribution, and other charges amounting to approximately 4-5 percent of the purchase price.
Once the application is approved in principle, the investor has to pay the following fees to the government of St. Kitts and Nevis:
Each child of main applicant under 18 years of age
Each qualified dependent of main applicant above 18 years of age
Children between 18-25 years of age should be supported fully by the parents and must be in a full time educational institution.
Investment in the Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation
The SIDF (The Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation) in St. Kitts and Nevis is a public charity audited by PricewaterhouseCoopers. An investor using this option for citizenship can invest in the following ways:
Applicant with a spouse and two children below 18 years of age (up to three family members)
Applicant with a spouse and four children below 18 years of age (up to five family members)
Applicant with up to seven family members
Over and above the seven dependents, unmarried dependent children aged between 18-25 years of age can be included at an additional fee
The above contribution is inclusive of all government fees except for the due diligence fees.
Due Diligence Fees, Background Check Fees, and Processing Fees
Dependents above 16 years
- Spouse of the main applicant
- Child of the main applicant who is:
- below 18 years of age
- between 18-25 years of age, fully supported by main applicant and in full time attendance at a recognized educational institution
- above 18 years of age and is physically or mentally challenged
- Parents or grandparents of the main applicant and/or his spouse above 65 years of age, fully supported by the main applicant.
It takes 90 days to process a citizenship application in St. Kitts and Nevis.
Investment Immigration: Portugal Golden Residence Investor Programme
Golden Residence Permit
Portugal offers a Golden Residence Permit Programme that allows applicants to get a residence permit by investing in Portugal. Potential investors, entrepreneurs and businessmen can apply for a residence permit in Portugal by acquiring real estate, transferring capital, or creating jobs in the country.
This programme allows a non-Portugal citizen to apply for temporary residence in Portugal in order to conduct investment activity, without having a full residency visa while entering the country.
The temporary residence permit is initially granted for one year. It can thereafter be renewed for two years. On expiry of the first renewal, the applicant can apply for further renewal for two more years. Through this process, a total of five years’ residency can be obtained in Portugal.
After five years of lawful residence, an applicant is eligible to apply for permanent residency. At the end of the sixth year, the applicant can also apply for citizenship of Portugal.
Benefits of the Golden Residence Permit Programme:
An investor who obtains residence permit in Portugal is entitled to the following benefits:
- No visa required to enter Portugal
- Visa-free travel within the Schengen area
- Live and work in Portugal while maintaining existing residency in another country
- Study in Portugal
- Opportunity to get temporary residence, permanent residence and citizenship of Portugal for your family members
- Get permanent residency after five years of residence, subject to fulfilling the terms and conditions of the programme
- Get citizenship of Portugal after six years of residence, subject to fulfilling the terms and conditions of the programme.
Who Can Apply Under the Golden Residence Permit Programme?
Any third country citizen who can make an investment as an individual or through a company setup in Portugal or any other EU country and who, in addition, are stably settled in Portugal, can apply under this programme.
The applicant should not:
- have been convicted of any punishable offense in Portugal with imprisonment of more than one year
- have been banned from entering the territory of Portugal following expulsion
- have had an alert in their name issued in Schengen Information System as a listed person
- have had an alert in their name issued in Integrated System of the Portuguese Immigration Service
In addition, the applicant must also fulfil the investment and residency eligibility requirements.
Under this programme, a minimum residence of seven days in the first year and 14 days in the subsequent periods of two years is required. The stay can be consecutive or un-sequential.
An application which is submitted with all required documents will be validated in a maximum period of 72 hours.
Documents Required: Portugal Investor Residence Programme
- Valid passport
- A Schengen Visa, when applicable
- Criminal record provided by the applicant’s country of origin or the country where the applicant has been residing for more than a year
- Consent to undergo a criminal record check in Portugal
- Declarations indicating absence of debts to the Portuguese Tax Authorities and Portuguese Social Security
- An affidavit stating the intent to fulfil the investment requirements
- Proof of health insurance
- Receipt of application fee
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
Investment Immigration: Australia Residence Investment Programme
Australia’s Business Innovation and Investment Programme
Australia’s Business Innovation and Investment Programme is especially designed for entrepreneurs and businessmen who want to settle in Australia and contribute to Australia’s development. The main beneficiaries of investment immigration to Australia are migrants who have repeatedly enjoyed success through investments and innovation.
Objectives of the Business Innovation and Investment Programme:
- Creation of employment in Australia
- Bringing newer technologies to Australia
- Increasing production of goods and services
- Increasing Australian export of goods and services
- Strengthening the position of Australia in the international market
- Distributing businessmen with entrepreneurial skills all over the country through state-centric and territory-centric government sponsorships.
Structure of the Business Innovation and Investment Programme:
The investment immigration programme in Australia has the following three visa categories.
- Business Innovation and Investment Provisional visa (Subclass 188)
- Business Innovation and Investment Permanent visa (Subclass 888)
- Business Talent Permanent visa (Subclass 132)