The popularity of Canada and the United States as target destinations for migration is the core reason why the investment immigration programs in both countries are among the world’s most popular.
Since Canada’s federal government discontinued its investment immigration program, the Quebec Immigrant Investor Program (QIIP) became the major pathway to permanent residency for high net worth individuals.
QIIP’s equivalent in the U.S. is the EB-5, hugely popular among wealthy Chinese investors looking to move to America to give their children a new life.
The economic and family class immigration programs in the U.S. have backlogs of anywhere between five and ten years, making the EB-5 option one of the only realistic ways of achieving a green card on a timely basis.
But how do the two programs compare? They each have very different terms, despite the core outcome of permanent residency in return for an investment.
QIIP asks for investment of CAD $800,000 over five years, after which the initial amount is returned without interest. A key factor is that this is a passive investment guaranteed by the Quebec government. As such, it is risk free. However, investors can finance their investment with a resulting out of pocket cost of only CAD $220,000. The majority of investors under the program choose the financing option, thus rendering the QIIP program one of the cheapest opportunities for a Tier 1 residence. EB-5 requires an investment of USD $500,000 or USD $1 million in a job-creating project. The candidate pays $500,000 if investing in a Targeted Employment Area with high unemployment. They pay $1 million for other projects. Financing is not permitted under the program. An ongoing review could see these thresholds rise.
QIIP requires the candidate to prove a minimum net worth of CAD $1.6 million. This must be obtained by lawful means and can be in combination with a spouse. The EB-5 has no net worth requirement.
The QIIP initially grants a Quebec Certificate of Selection. This can be used to apply for permanent residency. Under EB-5, candidates are awarded conditional permanent residency (‘green card’).
Freedom of Movement
Under the QIIP, applicants must declare their intention to live in Quebec, but can move wherever they want in Canada once permanent residency is granted. The EB-5 contains no residency restriction.
As already mentioned, the QIIP investment is passive. The Quebec government guarantees the amount will be returned after five years, making it risk free. The EB-5 investment attracts significant risk. The investment must be in a new for-profit business, and in the case of the lower investment class, in an area of high unemployment.
QIIP is a passive investment. There is no requirement to create jobs. An EB-5 investment must create a minimum of 10 jobs for American workers within two-years of a candidate’s arrival in the U.S. They are initially accepted on a conditional visa. This again highlights the high risk nature of the program. The jobs can be direct or indirect.
Clearly, there are a number of factors for a candidate to consider when deciding which investment immigration program is right for them.
But the low cost, risk free, passive investment of QIIP give it the edge over the EB-5 purely in how the different terms of the program match up.
If an investor sees Canada and the U.S. as equally desirable migration locations, then QIIP is by far the safest option.
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