Since Canada’s federal Immigrant Investor Program was taken off the table in 2014, Quebec is the last remaining province to offer this path to permanent residency, via the Quebec Immigration Investor Program (QIIP).
Unlike entrepreneur and start-up visas, the investment required to obtain this visa has nothing to do with running a business: applicants do not need to manage or establish a company in Quebec to be eligible for this program. Instead, they must lend a set amount of money to the government in the form of an interest-free investment, which is then used to enrich the province’s economy.
A Brief History of the Program
As part of the Canadian IIP, Quebec has been accepting immigrant investors since 1986. The goal of the IIP (and now the QIIP) was to attract well-to-do foreign nationals with business experience to Canada, so they could help contribute to the country’s economy – namely through a significant investment made directly to the government.
In exchange for their investment, people who immigrated through Canada’s IIP were granted immediate and unconditional permanent residency, with the option to apply for citizenship down the line.
// The Canada-Quebec Accord, which gives Quebec unique freedoms regarding immigration to the province, is what allowed it to branch off and maintain the QIIP.
The Federal IIP went strong until it was subject to a moratorium in 2012, followed by a definitive cancellation in 2014. The official explanation for the cancellation was that investors were not maintaining sufficient ties to Canada after immigrating, and they ended up paying significantly less taxes than other economic immigrants in the long term.
So, if the IIP was axed on a federal level, how did Quebec manage to maintain its own version of the program? The Canada-Quebec Accord, which gives Quebec unique freedoms regarding immigration to the province, is what allowed it to branch off and maintain the QIIP.
Quebec’s IIP Eligibility
The QIIP is one of the most passive paths to immigration – but it is unattainable for most people. To apply for residency via this program, foreign nationals must:
- Have a legally acquired personal net worth of at least $2 million, either alone or with a spouse
- Have spent two years in a sufficient managerial role within the last five years prior to the application being filed (namely as someone involved in the planning, management, and control of financial, human, or material resources)
- Make a five-year, interest-free investment of $1.2 million with Investissement Québec – Immigrants Investisseurs Inc. through an approved financial intermediary
- Intend to settle in the province of Quebec
Over the years, people have criticized Canada’s IIP (and now the QIIP) for allowing affluent foreign nationals to “purchase” their permanent residency, and eventually their citizenship. Based on the eligibility requirements, it’s clear that candidates must have amassed a significant amount of wealth to get accepted into the program.
Recent suspension of the Program
At the time of this writing, the QIIP has been suspended until April 2021. It had previously been placed on hold until July 2020, but the suspension was subsequently extended. The initial pause was prompted by two main factors: the first being a massive backlog of applications, and the second, concerns regarding how many QIIP residents end up leaving Quebec for other provinces.
You will recall that one of the eligibility requirements for the QIIP is an intention to settle in Quebec. Since the rest of the country is no longer served by an IIP, the government has found it problematic that foreign nationals are simply using Quebec as a doorway into the rest of Canada.
Quebec and federal authorities have had several exchanges to curtail this concern. As long as the program’s objectives are under review, it will remain on pause.
How to apply for the Quebec IIP
Applying for permanent residency through the QIIP is a two-step process.
No matter how you wish to enter Canada, immigration is an extremely complex process that requires an in-depth knowledge of government systems. Having an experienced attorney on your side can significantly increase your chances of submitting a successful application, and getting your life started in your new home.