Quebec’s Immigrant Investor Program (QIIP) is scheduled to reopen as soon as January 1st, 2024, nearly five years since its suspension in 2019.
In May this year, the government of Quebec initially announced its intention to bring back the program with stricter regulations. It has now published the final versions of the changes to its immigration regulations.
The QIIP makeover is considerable: The government has scrapped the points-based system and replaced it with a set of criteria applicants must meet to qualify for the program.
QIIP now effectively “dead in the water”
The criteria are now far more onerous than under previous iterations of the program. Applicants will henceforth need to demonstrate oral proficiency (speaking and listening) in French at a level 7 (upper intermediate) on the Échelle québécoise des niveaux de compétence en français des personnes immigrantes adultes test.
Investment migration researcher Stephane Tajick says the decision to include the French language proficiency requirement will have dire consequences for the program and that the QIIP is now effectively “dead in the water.” This particular criterion, argues Tajick, was based on “ideology rather than rationality,” and “many of the ruling CAQ government decisions are solely based on protecting the French language.”
“The only positive addition,” he remarks, “is the ability of the Minister to waive certain requirements for exceptional candidates. If you have a client who wants to make very large investments in Quebec, you can test your luck. Otherwise, don’t expect more than a handful of waivers.”
While the investment amount remains at CAD 1.2 million as it was before the changes, CAD 200,000 of that amount will serve as a contribution to the government. The remaining CAD 1 million will be a five-year investment in government bonds. Applicants must also prove they have a net worth of at least CAD 2 million.
Financing of the investment remains valid within the same regulations as for the previous QIIP version.
The government also introduced education and experience factors: Applicants must hold a diploma equivalent to a secondary school degree in Canada and have at least two years of management experience within the five years preceding the application.
The most significant change to the IIP is a structural one: The province will award successful applicants a three-year work permit instead of a direct permanent residence permit (PR).
Moreover, an unconventional physical residence requirement will apply during the first two years of the work permit’s validity: 12 months that can be divided between the investor and his or her spouse. The investor must reside for six months during the two years, and then the investor or the investor’s spouse must reside for another six months. Overlapping months (investor and spouse residing six months together) do not count toward the twelve-month total.
Increased allocation to reduce backlog
One positive development is that, as part of its multi-year immigration plan, the Province has increased its admission target for 2024, allowing for up to 7,900 persons to be admitted under its business immigration streams (which includes the QIIP). This marks an 83% increase compared to the projected admissions for 2023.
These slots will go a long way toward cutting down on the backlog of applications that reached 18,800 in 2019. Patrick McCarthy, Immigrant Investor Program Director at Sherbrooke Street Capital (one of the authorized financial intermediaries for the program), characterized this increased allocation for the business category as great news:
“In many cases,” he points out, “these applicants have invested their funds and have been waiting for several years. So, the increased levels will certainly help to reduce visa issuance backlogs. At the same time, the Government’s hope is that reducing the backlog of already approved applications will mean faster processing for new applicants.”
McCarthy indicates much anticipation will now be tied to the government’s publication of the procedural details of the program, notably the application process and the timing for the French test.
The final publication of the regulations is slated for release on November 22, with operational details to follow before the program’s expected reopening on January 1.
Tajick, however, isn’t optimistic. His warnings to the government during public consultations, he comments, have fallen on deaf ears, as have those of other stakeholders. According to him, “financial intermediaries and other experts warned the Minister that the program, as currently constituted, will not attract many candidates.”
Become an IMI Pro todayFor committed professionals
Get Your IMI Pro profile page in IMI
Access to IMI Data Center
Access to IMI Private Briefings
IMI Reports included
Watch members-only interviews
Advance invitation to IMI Events