In a statement made on the evening of February 11, 2014, the Canadian government announced that it intends to terminate both the Federal Immigrant Investor Program (IIP) and Federal Entrepreneur (EN) program. In doing so, it plans to eliminate several thousand backlogged applications.
The IIP and EN programs have been cornerstones of Canada’s business-oriented immigration programs. In 2011, approximately 10,000 immigrants entered Canada through the IIP, while almost 1,000 entered through the EN program.
Although the programs have long held a place in the Canadian immigration landscape, in recent years they suffered from significant backlogs of applications. Investors, for instance, were made to wait at least 54 months for visa issuance, while many entrepreneurs faced even longer processing times.
In addition, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) pointed out in its statement that the threshold of investment for IIP applicants, which stands at $800,000, is significantly lower than that of investor programs in countries such as the UK and Australia. Investors who arrive in Canada are also likely to pay less taxes than immigrants who come to Canada through programs such as the Federal Skilled Worker Program.
Elimination of Backlogged Files
At present, the current inventory of backlogged applications for the IIP stands at 65,000. CIC anticipates that it would take more than six years to process these files. In order to move forward with programs that will more accurately capture the types of investors needed in Canada, CIC will instead eliminate the files currently in the backlog.
No announcement has yet been made as to what, if any, applications will be processed.
Options for Future Investment
By doing away with the current IIP and EN programs, the government will ‘pave the way for new pilot programs that will actually meet Canada’s labour market and economic needs’. These pilot programs will be tailored to meet the realities of Canada’s economic needs.
CIC mentioned that the pilot programs will complement the Entrepreneur Start-Up Visa, a former pilot program that is now a permanent part of Canada’s immigration system. Two programs have already been mentioned as replacements for the IIP and EN streams. One will be a new Immigrant Investor Venture Capital Fund, and the other a new Business Skills Program.
Further developments are forthcoming. To stay up-to-date on the latest business immigration issues, and all important immigration news, make sure to sign up for CIC News today.