Canada is a North American country bordered by the United States to the south and the Arctic Circle to the north. It is the second-largest country in the world by land area, known for its vast expanses and rich natural resources.
Canada is not only known for its iconic Niagara Falls, magnificent national parks, and nature reserves but also for its strong appeal to immigrants due to its robust economy. It ranks 27th in the world in terms of GDP per capita. A Canadian passport holds significant global strength, providing visa-free access to 121 destinations, with an additional 52 destinations offering visas upon arrival. The country boasts a comprehensive public healthcare system that ensures access to medical care based on needs rather than financial capabilities. Canada's high standard of living and the allowance of dual citizenship make it an attractive destination for many immigrants. Furthermore, Canada offers various pathways to obtain permanent residence and, eventually, citizenship.
Here is how to obtain an investment visa in Canada and how Quebec investor citizenship differs from the others.
How to Obtain Canadian Citizenship Through Investment
Canada does not offer direct investment-based citizenship programs, commonly referred to as 'golden passports.' In the past, Canada did have investor visas that made applicants eligible for permanent residency. However, this option is currently unavailable. Before delving further, let's first discuss the requirements for obtaining Canadian citizenship.
Applicants must meet the following requirements to be eligible for Canadian citizenship:
- Hold permanent residency status.
- Have resided in Canada for a minimum of 3 out of the last 5 years, equivalent to 1,095 days.
- Filed their taxes as required by Canadian law.
- Successfully pass a citizenship test in either English or French, if the applicant is aged between 18 and 54.
- Take the oath of citizenship.
- Pay the applicable application fee online, which is $630 for adults and $100 for minors.
In Canada, the majority of applications, including those for citizenship, are submitted online. The exceptions to this rule are Canadian Armed Forces officers, certain public employees, their family members, and representatives applying on behalf of a foreign client, who are required to apply on paper. For more detailed information, please visit the official website of the Government of Canada.
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Citizenship Test and Interview
All applicants between the ages of 18 and 54 are required to take the citizenship test. Applicants who are younger or older may be invited for an interview, but this depends on individual circumstances.
The citizenship test assesses your knowledge of Canadian geography, politics, history, symbols, and laws. To prepare for the test, you can refer to the official citizenship study guide titled 'Discover Canada: The Rights and Responsibilities of Citizenship.'
The test is conducted in either English or French and does not necessitate a perfect command of the chosen language. Adequate language skills, equivalent to the 4th level of the Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB) or Niveaux de compétence linguistique canadien (NCLC), are sufficient.
To pass the test, you must answer 15 questions correctly out of 20. If you do not pass on your first attempt, you will be scheduled for a second test, which typically takes place 4 to 8 weeks later.
The citizenship test is typically administered online, with some exceptions. For instance, blind individuals are tested in person, either in oral form or using Braille. Applicants who encounter issues with their Internet connection, webcam, or other required equipment may take the test offline. The Canadian government has made provisions for various circumstances, including housing for nonresidents. In other words, if an applicant cannot take the test online and, at the same time, has no place to stay during the offline testing with the immigration services, Canada will provide accommodation upon request.
In addition, applicants may be exempt from the test for reasons such as a severe illness lasting over a year, a mental disorder, trauma resulting from war and torture, or a low level of education and literacy.
Canadian Investment Visas
To obtain Canadian citizenship, you need to pass background checks and, most importantly, reside in the country legally and permanently. This means you require a permanent residence permit. There are various ways to obtain one, but investor PR in Canada is currently unavailable.
Canada closed these federal programs back in 2014. Until 2019, the only program in effect was the Quebec investment program. Later, it was put on hold and the hold was repeatedly extended, most recently until January 1, 2024. However, this does not mean that the programme is cancelled. It may be resumed in the winter of 2024, as many investors speculate.
Since the programme's page is still available on the official website of the Government of Canada, we will provide a brief description of it. This will give you a general idea of how to obtain permanent residency in Canada through investment.
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Quebec Business Immigration Programme for Investors and Entrepreneurs
This program is designed for wealthy investors seeking to establish themselves in Quebec and contribute to the province's economy. It comprises two categories:
- Quebec Investor: Applicants must invest 800,000 CAD ($589,058) in the Quebec economy and possess a net worth of at least 1,600,000 CAD ($1,178,116).
- Quebec Entrepreneur: To qualify for this program, a foreign individual must commit to investing a minimum of $300,000 in a local business.
The process for obtaining a Quebec investment visa involves the following steps:
- Obtain approval from the Quebec Government confirming the applicant's eligibility as an investor or entrepreneur, which is provided in the form of a Quebec Selection Certificate.
- Assemble the required documents, which can be found on the Government of Canada's website (IMM 5722). The checklist includes an application form, a comprehensive questionnaire, a Quebec Selection Certificate, a declaration of intent to establish residence in the province, a valid passport, marriage and birth certificates, police clearance certificates from each country of residence, and more.
- Pass an immigration medical exam (IME).
- Pay the associated fees, which amount to 2,140 CAD ($1,576) for the principal applicant, 1,665 CAD ($1,226) for a spouse, and 230 CAD ($170) for each dependent child. Additionally, a biometrics fee of 85 CAD ($63) per person or 170 CAD ($125) per family is required.
- Submit the application online.
If your application is approved, you will be granted a permanent resident visa (PR).
As of 2023, new applications for this program are temporarily suspended, but entrepreneurs have an alternative.
Canadian Start-up Visa
This is not a traditional investment-based PR program in Canada, but it presents an intriguing option for entrepreneurs. Furthermore, unlike the Quebec visa, it doesn't limit a foreigner's choice of place of residence, demands minimal financial investments, and empowers foreigners to develop their business ideas with the support of local entrepreneurs. The objective of a start-up visa is to attract enterprising individuals, prioritising entrepreneurial spirit over substantial financial investments.
To participate, a foreigner with a compelling business idea must secure the backing of a Canadian investor. If the organisation endorses the idea, the entrepreneur can subsequently obtain permanent residence, followed by citizenship.
The applicant must:
- possess a qualifying business;
- secure a letter of support from a designated organisation;
- meet the English or French language requirements by passing listening, reading, writing, and speaking tests;
- apply for permanent residence and, if desired, apply for a work permit simultaneously. The work permit is issued for a one-year period and is intended for the development of the declared business project while awaiting a residence permit.
The programme is designed for immigrant entrepreneurs capable of establishing an innovative and competitive business that can generate employment opportunities for Canadians.
A designated organisation is an investor selected from a government-approved list. Many of these organisations are required not only to endorse the business idea but also to provide a certain level of financial support, such as:
- $200,000 if it is a venture capital fund
- $75,000 if it is an angel investor group
You can also seek support from a business incubator, which is exempt from the obligation to finance the project, or you can receive support from multiple investors simultaneously.
The key difference with the start-up visa is that there is no minimum investment required on your part. If at some point your business has to be closed, it will not affect your immigration status. You will still be able to continue living in Canada and eventually apply for citizenship.
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Funds Required for Immigration
When you move to Canada, regardless of which program you choose, you'll need to provide proof that you have the funds to support yourself and your dependents. The minimum required funds are updated annually, and as of 2023, in Canadian dollars, they are:
- 13,757 ($10,130) for one person
- 17,127 ($12,611) for two people
- 21,755 ($16,018) for three people
The funds must be in the applicant's account when moving to Canada, which should be confirmed by bank statements. If you're applying through the start-up visa program, a designated organisation can provide financial support to the applicant. However, these funds must be separate from the investment capital and are intended for personal use, not for the business investment itself.
The above amounts are in any case minimal and indicative.
In a Nutshell
It is currently impossible to invest in Canada and obtain citizenship. Furthermore, even obtaining permanent residency (PR) through investment in Canada is not being issued at the moment. There is still a chance that the program for obtaining PR in Canada through investment may reopen in Quebec in 2024.
However, you can currently obtain a Canadian residence permit by establishing a business that would create jobs for the locals. To apply for citizenship after obtaining your permanent residency (PR), you will need to have lived in the country for three years out of the last five and pass a test on your knowledge of local customs, culture, laws, and language.
Cover photo: Ali Tawfiq (Unsplash)