Millionaire immigrant investor program lures only 7 instead of 60

January 22, 2016

By Susana Mas. CBC News |

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s pitch to convince the world’s richest that Canada is a good place to invest came too late for a pilot program intended to lure 60 millionaire immigrants to Canada in an effort to give the economy a boost, CBC News has learned.

“There has never been a better time to look to Canada,” Trudeau said this week before a crowd of the world’s business elite at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

The Immigrant Investor Venture Capital program, a revamped version of a program critics once denounced as “cash for citizenship,” was launched last January by the former Conservative government following a commitment it made in the 2014 budget.

The one-year pilot was meant to attract rich immigrants willing to make a non-guaranteed investment of $2 million up front to be held for 15 years in a fund managed principally by BDC Capital, the investment arm of the Business Development Bank of Canada, in return for permanent residency. Applicants also had to prove they had even more money in the bank.

But a year after it was launched, the pilot program has yielded just seven applications from potential international investors and no permanent resident visas.

“The demand for this pilot program has been low,” said Nancy Caron a spokeswoman with the Department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada in an email to CBC News this week.

Dashed expectations

The previous Conservative government thought it would result in hundreds of applications from rich immigrant investors.

“The program will be open for applications from Jan. 28 to Feb. 11, 2015, or until a maximum of 500 applications are received,” the previous government announced around this time last year.

A year later, Canada is still waiting to welcome its first new millionaire immigrant investor.

“A total of seven applications are in process,” said the departmental spokeswoman this week, adding that as of Dec. 30, 2015, four applications had passed a first-stage review and three had passed a second-stage review and were “in process.”

Only when an application reaches the second-stage is it then given a “pass or fail,” Caron explained.

With all seven applications still in process, “No permanent resident visas have yet been issued under this program,” she said.

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