Two of the oldest investment immigration streams in the global residence through investment industry are the Quebec Immigrant Investor Program and the St Kitts & Nevis Immigrant Investor Program.
Comparing a residency program to a citizenship program may seem of limited value.
But given the history of the two programs and the vast differences between the two programs, a comparison is useful.
These are two programs at each end of the investment immigration spectrum.
One offers permanent residence in Canada, one of the world’s most sought-after nations for residence, in return for a $1.2 million investment.
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The other offers citizenship of a Caribbean island nation for a minimum investment of US$250,000 (CAD$333,300).
The Quebec investor program is an example of how economically developed nations can use demand for residence as a driving attraction for the programs. A limited number of applicants are accepted under each.
The St Kitts program competes with several others in the Caribbean, forcing the investment threshold down and putting pressure on due diligence. Applicants can get citizenship in 90 days and are not required to visit the island.
Given the differences, the programs attract a different profile of applicant.
Quebec devotes 70% of its annual quota towards high net worth Chinese candidates looking to invest in international real estate and to secure a better future for their children.
St Kitts attracts candidates looking for a second citizenship that offers them visa-free access to a high number of countries, including the EU. Due diligence is important as the program can attract interest from criminal elements.
How QIIP Compares to St Kitts & Nevis Immigrant Investor Program
|QIIP||St Kitts & Nevis Immigrant Investor Program|
|Investment threshold||$1.2 million|
|Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation|
· Single applicant: US$250,000
· Applicant plus 3 family members: US$300,000
· Each additional family member: US$25,000
Real Estate: US$400,000
|Net worth requirement||$2 million||None|
|Tax obligations||Canadian permanent residents have the same tax obligations as citizens.||No income or wealth tax.|
|Nature of investment||Passive investment over 5 years bearing no interest||Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation or real estate|
|Residence qualification||Immediate permanent residence||Immediate citizenship|
|Processing time||Asian-based investors who make up majority of candidates wait 3-4 years||90 days|
|Physical presence requirement||To maintain permanent residence, you must live in Canada for at least two years in a five-year period. To qualify for citizenship, you must be physically present for three years in the last five, as well as meet other requirements.||None|
|Business experience required?||Yes, two years in the last five of suitable management or business experience.||No|
|Application window||The QIIP sets managed application periods, with the recent threshold set at 1,900 applications, including a maximum of 1,330 from China, Hong Kong and Macao. With families, the program welcomes 5,000 new permanent residents each year. The next application period is expected to open in Q3 2018.||Always open|
|Financing available?||Yes, formal financing schemes available||No|
|Controversies||The main controversy surrounding the QIIP is that investors use it as a back door to Canada (Vancouver and Toronto). Despite attempts to favour investors who state their intention to reside in Quebec, once they have permanent residence status, they are free to move anywhere in Canada. The program has been criticized for raising house prices in Vancouver and Toronto.||Visa-free access to Canada was once a key benefit of the St Kitts citizenship-by-investment program. But concerns over how the program was vetting its candidates saw Ottawa withdraw the access back in November 2014. Since then, the government has spearheaded a comprehensive overhaul of the program, including tasking an outside agency to complete the vetting of candidates. However, Canada is yet to be satisfied enough to remove the visa requirement.|
|Political climate||Canada’s political climate is stable and welcoming to new immigrants.||Prime Minister Tim Harris’s government faces regular opposition criticism for how it operates the citizenship-by-investment program. However, this is essentially political posturing as the program is a permanent fixture on the St Kitts landscape.|
|Program stability||The QIIP has just increased its investment and net worth thresholds for the first time in nearly a decade. The program is a well-established part of the Canadian immigration landscape.||The St Kitts & Nevis citizenship program is the oldest in world, established in 1984. It has faced criticism from inside and outside the country over its 34-year existence, but there is no way it will be disbanded any time soon. A 2014 overhaul improved the program’s due diligence and its reputation. In 2017, plans were announced to add a residence option.|
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