Last Updated on August 12, 2021
Skilled workers, family members, business people and Start-Up Visa entrepreneurs are all welcome in Canada, but not investment immigrants.
For a country that ranks high, if not at the top, of the list of preferred destination for immigrants, Canada’s stubborn refusal to revive its immigration program for wealthy investors is perplexing.
Why Investment Immigration in Canada?
Why not? Canada has programs for skilled workers, business persons, startup entrepreneurs, self-employed professionals, farmers, international graduates, and even international graduate entrepreneurs. Why exactly is the idea of a program designed exclusively for investors so controversial?
South Africans Lead Way In Gaining Permanent Residency Through Start-Up Visa Program
Start-Up Visa: How Canada Beats US On Attracting Immigrant Entrepreneurs
Canada’s Start-Up Visa Anomaly: Why Paper-Based Applications for NextGen Tech Entrepreneurs Must Change to Online
Leveraging Canada’s Immigrant-Friendly Status
Concerns about investment immigration range from the morality of assigning a price tag to citizenship and permanent residence to the absence of tangible and long-lasting benefits to the economy. Another common and not unjustified concern is the impact of the concentration of foreign investments in specific sectors and cities.
Nevertheless, Canada can and should have an investment immigration program simply because immigrants, even wealthy ones, need Canada as badly as the country needs them.
Countries like St. Kitts and Nevis or Dominica face challenges like very little natural resources, economic growth dependent on just one or two sectors, and the damage wrought by frequent hurricanes. Still recovering from the 2008-2012 recession, countries like Greece and Cyprus are now staring at the economic costs of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Unlike these countries, Canada can afford to be choosy when offering permanent residence to investors. If it does not want a conventional golden visa centered on real estate and other passive investments, then how about one tailored to its own economic and demographic requirements?
The Right Investment Immigration Program for Canada
Considering Canada’s past experience with the Canada Immigrant Investor Program, it can focus on creating an expensive and exclusive program focusing on quality rather than quantity.
The US EB-5 visa costs US$1.8 million with a cheaper US$900,000 option for those investing in high-unemployment or rural areas. Ireland wants applicants to invest US$1.2 million or donate US$600,000 to qualify for permanent residence. Australia’s SIV comes with a cool price tag of US$3.75 million.
Considering these figures, the US$650,000 required under the now-defunct Canada Immigrant Investor Program seems ridiculously low.
A high investment requirement coupled with additional conditions will help restrict interest to ultra-wealthy and serious investors.
Canada can prevent wealthy investors from crowding into its biggest cities by restricting the program to the smaller and less-developed provinces. The option of allowing investors to pool funds through Regional Centres can be borrowed from the US EB-5 and these investments can be used to boost infrastructure development and economic activity in rural Canada.
Australia’s SIV can serve as the template for directing investments into disruptive startup technologies across the country. Further, the Australian SIV’s bar on direct investments into residential real estate can be used to prevent price bubbles in the Canadian real estate market.
Investment Immigration Plus PNPs
No other country in the world has Canada’s vibrant and dynamic ecosystem of provincial immigration programs. Investor programs can be combined with PNP entrepreneur programs to incentivize wealthy individuals to look beyond passive investments.
An investor funding the business ideas of those applying through various international graduate entrepreneurs PNPs or the federal Start-Up Visa will result in exponential benefits for the Canadian economy.
Sustained economic growth requires job creation and sustained job creation requires entrepreneurial talent combined with financial, human, and technological investments. Canada’s inability to look beyond the flawed Canada Immigrant Investor program may prove to be a very expensive mistake in the years ahead.