The Canadian passport has been ranked the fourth-most powerful in the world in the latest version of the Passport Index.
Travelling to a foreign country is impossible without a passport, which is why the power of status of a passport depends primarily on visa-free travel privileges granted by the document.
Passports of comparatively less-developed nations like St. Kitts & Nevis and Antigua & Barbuda often rank higher than other more affluent nations based on the visa-free travel factor.
Currently, the Passport Index, which compares passports of different nations and ranks them on the extent of global mobility enjoyed by its holder, rates Germany as the top-rated passport in the world. Holder of a German passport can travel to 161 countries without needing a visa.
Canadians have reason to applaud the Canadian passport moving up to fourth spot in 2017 in the list of most powerful passports in the world. Ranked sixth in the world in 2015, the Canadian passport retained its ranking in 2016 before jumping two spots in 2017.
Canada is now ranked on a par with passports issued by Switzerland, South Korea, Japan, Ireland, and the U.S. in terms of visa-free travel.
The jump in rankings is significant because, apart from the U.S. and Ireland, Canada is the only other country with this passport index rank that offers an investment immigration program.
The U.S. EB-5 visa, apart from being mired in controversies, requires creation of 10 jobs to qualify. The Irish program, although offering multiple investment options, is yet to catch the interest of the global elite.
The Canadian program, on the other hand, has been a perennial favorite among wealthy applicants, seeking citizenship by investment options, especially those from China. Until 2014, Canada had a federal program that ran concurrently with the Quebec Immigrant Investor Program (QIIP). However, the federal program was terminated amid much controversy, meaning wealthy candidates seeking permanent residence in Canada through a passive investment program may only apply under the Quebec program. The QIIP offers permanent residence in lieu of a one-time investment in a government guaranteed program.
Once permanent residence is secured in Canada, candidates must meet further requirements to become a naturalized citizen of Canada. Central to this is three years of qualifying permanent residence in the previous five years, among other Canadian citizenship requirements.
QIIP: Primary Requirements
- Have a legally acquired personal net worth of $1.6 million CAD;
- Possess two years of suitable management or business experience within the five years preceding the application;
- Commit to making an investment of $800,000 CAD into a passive government guaranteed investment for a period of five years bearing no interest;
- Intend to settle in the province of Quebec.
Since visa-free travel is an important consideration for wealthy applicants comparing different programs, the rise in rankings of the Canadian program can help boost its popularity.
The decision was prompted by lack of careful due diligence and fears that the two nations were issuing passports to investment immigration applicants without proper verification and oversight. Despite various diplomatic overtures by the two nations, Canada has refused to reverse its decision.
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