Canadian Immigration to abolish Immigrant Investor Program

Citizenship and Immigration Canada has announced that the Immigrant Investor Program (IIP) and the Federal Entrepreneur Program (FEP) will be terminated. The two programs were once Canada's main investor and entrepreneur programs but both had been suspended for some time.

In a statement, CIC said that the move will 'eliminate a large and longstanding backlog of applications, and pave the way for new pilot programs that will actually meet Canada's labour market and economic needs'.

The IIP has been suspended since July 2012. At the time that it was suspended, there were 25,000 applicants waiting for their applications to be determined. As most of these had applied to bring family with them, it is thought that some 75,000 people were waiting for Canadian permanent resident visas under the IIP.

Applications terminated

These applications will now be terminated and the application fees will be returned.

The IIP allowed wealthy foreign citizens worth more than CAN$1,600,000 (£885,000, US$1,455,000) to apply for Canadian permanent resident visas if they lent $800,000 ( (£443,000, US$733,000) to the Canadian government for three years.

The former immigration minister, Jason Kenney, told journalists in 2012 that the program 'undervalued the importance of Canadian citizenship and fails to ensure that new investors actively in the Canadian economy'

IIP scrapped

There were rumours in 2013 that CIC might keep the IIP in place but increase the size of the qualifying loan. These rumours have proved to be false.

In a statement, CIC said 'Research shows that immigrant investors pay less in taxes than other economic immigrants, are less likely to stay in Canada over the medium-to-long term and often lack the skills, including official language proficiency, to integrate as well as other immigrants from the same countries'.

The FEP was suspended in 2011. At that time, there was a backlog of 10,000 applications pending, which would have taken about eight years to clear. FEP applications will also be terminated and Government fees refunded.

'Administratively very burdensome and underwhelming in terms of results'

When he suspended the program, Mr Kenney said that it was 'administratively very burdensome and underwhelming in terms of the results'.

CIC says that it will 'replace these programs with more focused and effective pilot programs that will ensure that immigrants who come to Canada deliver meaningful benefits to our economy'.

Start-up visa

Canada has already established a new entrepreneur visa. On 1st April 2013, it launched the Start-Up visa which seeks to connect foreign entrepreneurs with Canadian venture capitalists.

If entrepreneurs can attract sufficient investment then, providing they meet Canada's general immigration criteria, they will receive permanent residence visas.

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