By Moustafa Daly
Suspended since November 1, 2019, Canada’s Quebec Immigrant Investor Program (QIIP) was anticipated to once again be open for application on April 1, 2023.
The Canadian government just announced, however, that the suspension will continue to be effective through January 1, 2024.
“This news is not surprising at all: the financial year starts on April 1st in Quebec province, hence the province had no choice but to announce this news which doesn't change much for the landscape we have been used to in recent years,” explains Julien Tétrault, president of Quebec-based JTH Lawyers Inc.
“Since the program was suspended in 2019, we have been having a regular flow of similar announcements of suspension extension,” he adds.
The only passive-investment route to get a Canadian permanent residency for investors, the Quebec Investor Program had been a popular route for foreign investors seeking to relocate to Canada, requiring a 1.2 million Canadian dollars investment into a government-prescribed investment. It’s also one of the oldest residency-by-investment programs, launched in 1986.
Why is the Quebec Immigrant Investor Program still suspended?
QIIP also required proof of personal net worth amounting to 2 million Canadian dollars, at least two years of experience managing a business in the five years prior to application, and intention to settle in the province of Quebec, which wasn’t always the case.
“It is well known the majority of QIIP applicants under previous versions of the program were from China and South East Asia and never settled in Quebec,” as per Canada’s official immigration website’s statement on the news.
This is seen as a reason why the program continues to be suspended but not scrapped: “There are political reasons why the Quebec Immigrant Investor Program (QIIP) is not purely shut down once and for all,” reveals Tétrault.
“The current government in Quebec publicly aims at a 100% French speaking immigration; since the QIIP which was given widely to non-French speaking HNWIs who were using the program to settle outside of Quebec, it is fair to assume that those days are over,” he further elaborates, adding that he thinks there’s a zero percent chance that QIIP will be available to non-French speakers should it relaunch on January 1, 2024.
It could be as simple as the government seeking to clear the backlog
The suspension extension could also be meant to give the government more time to figure out revised requirements and finalize pending applications.
“The Quebec government is not ready to resume the QIIP as there are still some points to clarify between the Quebec government and the Canadian government and also on the investment amount,” explains Mathieu Simard, president at Simard & Associates.
“In addition, we are still processing the last cases submitted during the last intake of 2019. Therefore, the government prioritizes to have a decision made over all cases already submitted,” he adds.
Despite the suspension, Canadian authorities continue to process and grant residence cards for QIIP applicants from 2019 and prior. In fact, in 2022, it approved the highest number of applications since 2015, at 5,000.
In January 2023, 680 applications were approved, indicating that the backlog still persists.
What’s the future looking like for QIIP?
Given the multiple extensions since 2019, it remains unclear whether the program will actually return on January 1, 2024.
However, Simard is cautiously optimistic.
“We believe that announcement about the reopening will be done in January 2024 for an official reopening in the spring of 2024,” predicts Simard.
Investors still interested in Canada as their RBI destination can still do so by utilizing other Canadian RBI programs, which include Prince Edward Island PNP, New Brunswick PNP, Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program, among others. The available options, however, are geared more towards businessmen and entrepreneurs who can clearly demonstrate their business expertise and intend to launch or engage in entrepreneurial or business activities in Canada – not passive investments.
“The current RBI programs have a minimal language requirement, but they are faster, easier, and cheaper and bring more benefits to applicants and to Canada as well,” explains Tétrault.
“I don't expect any new program in the foreseeable future,” he concludes.
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