Investor immigrants to Prince Edward Island had $18 million withheld by the provincial government for failed to meet the requirements of the program by which they entered Canada.
Some 177 candidates for the province’s 100 per cent ownership stream had up to $200,000 withheld under the terms of the agreement signed with the province.
The vast majority of those P.E.I. immigration candidates failed to open a business, despite it being the central requirement of the stream.
Despite the failure to open businesses, provincial officials say most of the candidates were still living on the island. Heath MacDonald, Economic Development and Tourism Minister, says that in this way the program is working.
“We’re trying to grow our population,” MacDonald told CBC News. “It’s working in ways. Can it be improved? Of course it can be improved.”
P.E.I. 100% Ownership Program: Key Requirements
- Minimum personal net worth of $600,000. This net worth must have been acquired legally.
- At least a high school education.
- Be aged between 21 and 59 years of age at the time of application.
- Previous experience and significant talent in business management.
- Minimum of 4.0 on the IELTS within the last 2 years.
- Detailed business plan. The plan must involve the applicant owning 100 per cent of a P.E.I. business.
- Provide active and on-going management of the business from within P.E.I.
- Sign an escrow agreement committing to give a deposit of $200,000 to the P.E.I. government until all program requirements are met. After all requirements are met, the money will be returned to the applicant.
- Make a total investment in a P.E.I. business of at least $150,000.
Under the program, candidates must sign an escrow agreement committing to give a deposit of $200,000 to the PEI government until all program requirements are met. After all requirements are met, the money is returned to the applicant.
Of the $200,000, $150,000 is linked to the starting of a business, while the remaining $50,000 is linked to residency.
For the business portion to be refunded, candidates must meet requirements including investing $150,000 in a local business that incurs minimum $75,000 operating expenses in the first year. The business must also be managed from on the island.
For the $50,000 residency portion to be refunded, candidates must live on the island for 12 consecutive months.
The PEI government will give priority to applications that are in the following sectors:
- Export-oriented business
- Businesses that bring economic diversity to rural communities in PEI.
- Information technology
- Renewable energy.
Only a handful of candidates have failed the residency requirement, while many more have failed to open a business.
Critics of the stream say candidates are using the loophole to effectively buy Canadian permanent residency for $150,000. They say there is little incentive for investors to remain on the island after the 12-month residency requirement and been fulfilled, and the $50,000 returned.
P.E.I. has had success with boosting its population through its immigration programs, but retention is proving more difficult.
Just 41 per cent of those who landed on the island five years ago still live there, according to the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council.
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