April 1, 1999 marks the implementation of the new Canadian Immigrant Investor Program. The new rules and regulations will only apply to individuals who submit their Immigrant Investor applications after March 31, 1999.
The essential changes to the federal Program can be grouped into two categories. Firstly, the dollar thresholds have been increased. Whereas previously an Immigrant Investor had the option of investing $250,000, $350,000 or $500,000 for a five-year period, the new Program provides for one single investment option in the amount of $400,000. In addition, the minimum net worth required of the Investor has been increased from $500,000 to $800,000.
On a second level, the old federal Program required Investors to make their investment in a provincial government-administered venture capital fund. Each of these funds would then pool investor money and invest it in other businesses as permitted by federal regulations and provincial guidelines. Under the new Program, Citizenship and Immigration Canada will act as agent on behalf of provincial and territorial funds, and investments will be subsequently allocated to approved provincial or territorial funds. In this manner, a single federal window will replace the numerous funds previously available to Investors.
Investors who are destined for the Province of Quebec will only be partially affected by the new rules. Quebec has agreed to raise its minimum investment amount to $400,000 and its minimum net worth requirement to $800,000. However, Quebec will not abolish its current system of provincial government-administered venture capital funds.
As a result, Immigrant Investors who choose to apply under the Quebec Program will still be able to choose the investment fund (of which many exist) into which their investment is deposited. Furthermore, individuals who choose to invest under the Quebec Program may finance more than 80% of the total investment amount.
Lastly, the non monetary-related criteria to qualify as an Immigrant Investor continues to be broader in scope and more flexible under the Quebec Program as opposed to the federal Program. To qualify as an Investor under the federal Program, an individual must have successfully operated, controlled or directed a business. By comparison, under the Quebec Program, an individual have at least three years of managerial experience in a profitable commercial, industrial or agricultural business or, alternatively, have at least three years of managerial experience in a government, governmental organization, or international organization.