I’ve been following the discussions and debates around the investor program since it opened for a short thirty minutes last July before it closed again after reaching its 700 application cap. Although many expected the program to re-open to new applicants July 1st of this year, there are now indications that it may remain closed until later this year or even until 2013.
The immigrant investor program allows wealthy individuals with business or management experience to exchange cash for permanent residence. It is fairly controversial for this reason alone – many believe that Canada should not admit people based primarily on their net wealth. On top of that, investors would lend a great deal of money (it was $1.6 million when the program was suspended) to the Canadian government interest-free for five years. This appeared to be a conflict of interest on the government’s part – the more investors who were admitted meant more interest-free cash in the government coffers.
In any case, placing the merits of the investor program aside, the Minister of Immigration had stated he would be amending the program to address critics and provide a more meaningful benefit to Canada.
In my view, amending the program should be a priority for the government, as there are not many supporters inside the country for it, although there is a great demand from foreign applicants with the means to apply.
But I think the driving force behind the coming decision whether to re-open the program or not will be the continued backlog. There are still a staggering 25,000 applications to process, many of which have been lingering in the system for many years. I would be very surprised to see the government continue to add to the backlog of a relatively unpopular program when – as it stands – it will take a few more years to process the existing applications.
If you are one of the lucky few who has the means and ability to apply under this program, I’ll predict that it won’t open until late this year or early next year.
In addition, I’ll bet that we see stricter requirements. There will likely be tougher English or French language ability hurdles, more experience required, and perhaps an ongoing obligations to contribute to a Canadian community in some way.
Stay tuned and I’ll post updates to this program as they become available.