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Why Canada Should Create a Social Capital Investor Immigration Program for Student-Aged Entrepreneurs.


For as much scrutiny as Canada’s Federal Investor Immigration Program (“FIIP”) has come under, perhaps we have overlooked the real potential that encouraged investor immigrants can bring to Canada.

Contrary to the position taken by Candice Malcolm in her piece¬†“Canada is subsidizing foreign millionaires”I would place just as much, if not more, of the blame for the failure of Canada to realize foreign investor immigrant funds ¬†on Canadian institutions rather than the foreign investor.

As my Firm’s Partner Ryan Rosenberg wrote in 2010, in his piece titled “The Truth Behind the Federal Immigrant Investor Program”, that the economic benefits of the investment simply were not flowing through to the government and instead being realized by banks and consultants/representatives.

While I acknowledge the well-documented tax issues showing that Investor Immigrants are not paying their share, at a certain point we also have to see this as a failure in our tax system to properly assess taxes rather than in Investor Immigrants failing to pay the appropriate amount. For example, there is a Canada-China Income Tax Treaty¬†that prevents double taxation and drastically¬†reduces¬†the taxable income owing to the Canadian government. We also have a poor understanding of the Chinese tax system works and virtually no control over the transfer of foreign wealth through financial institutions. ¬†If investors are able to income split and send funds to Canada through their children, I don’t know if we can solely blame the foreign investor where the Canadian legal loopholes exist.

To me, a greater problem is why we haven’t been able to create an investor immigration program that funds social capital in the way that investor immigration has the potential to do.

Right now, there seems to be a divide between the passive investment (i.e. Quebec Investor Immigration Program and Immigrant Investor Venture Capital Program) and active management/entrepreneurship (i.e. the start-up visa program). The challenge with these programs is that they are either too passive, to the point the investments stop making economic sense or they are to active, where they become dependent on third parties rather than the applicant themselves.

Rather than utilizing investor funds to fund businesses, arguing crowding-out private equity, why not use investor funds to support charities and non-profits in Canada while instilling Canadian values in wealthy immigrants. Better yet, why not offer the opportunity for investor immigrants to fund access to justice initiatives and even refugee/immigration initiatives themselves, thus alleviating the burden on the Canadian taxpayer.

Instead, we have created an immigration system that utilizes temporary residence – via student permits as the only pathway to permanent residences. Ten-year multiple entry visas, allowing a visitor to enter Canada for six months at a time, quite repeatedly, are being used in lieu of permanent residence options and still offer the ability to live quite permanently in Canada with little detriment most of the time.

On that note, I think we particularly need to re-think the international student angle. I fully appreciate that one international student can fund four domestic students, and that a large majority of international students are¬†bona fide.¬†However, requiring them to come to Canada with large amounts of funds to prove their eligibility, meanwhile spending government funding to ensure students are enrolled in designated learning institutions and “actively pursuing studies” is problematic.

Such a model, necessarily limits opportunities for students from low-income/third-world countries, as well as those who may have more entrepreneurial interests in Canada.

Meanwhile, it leads to the creation and registration of several designated learning institutes that frankly have a best-interest in maximizing their tuition intake with very little care as to the student’s long-term well-being in Canada.

Many of these programs are not transparent in whether they offer post-graduate work permits and ultimately students end up enrolling in programs with little value in the labour market to find out they have no options after three years in Canada. It is not a surprise that, in the absence of proper education and resources, lambos, ferraris, and high fashion fill the void.

My questions is this: why not merge student immigration and entrepreneurship together? Assuming the money is coming from a reputable source (i.e. not the source of fraud) and that the money does not pass through too many hands (i.e. regulation on maximum commission/legal fees realizable), is there are anything wrong with allowing a student to earn their permanent resident status in Canada by funding jobs and opportunities for  underserved non-profit/charities in Canada?

I would argue no.

Possible Model for a Social Entrepreneurship Investor Immigration Program

I have envisioned a possible model. It is a draft of course, and I am sure not perfect, but hear me out:

Eligible non-profits/charities in Canada would apply to the Government of Canada at the beginning of the Calendar year for a designated investor from the Social Entrepreneurship Investor Immigration Program. ¬†These non-profits/charities would be screened in advance to ensure they are bipartisan in nature and would have to have a non-arm’s length relationship with the potential investor. This would ensure the non-profit/charity would not be a vehicle and not a created corporation for immigration purposes.

The designated investor, outside of a large investment amount ($800,000-$2,000,000) would have low entry requirements, consisting of basic English skills and pre-cleared fundst. The investor would however, have to pledge to achieve a minimum CLB score by the end of the three-year program (let’s set it at 6 to be realistic and fair).

Applicants would then be given a choice of non-profits/charities ¬†that they could make their minimum investment in. ¬†The ultimate investment would not be limited to a certain cause but would ultimately be decided upon by the organization’s Board. ¬†Additionally, the young enterpreneur/investor immigrant ¬†would be required to take on an active “directorship” role with the charity/non-profit that they invested in. ¬†They would be limited in the number of shares they could take, but be granted voting power depending on the bylaws of the organization..

As part of their investment, they would have to commit to the funding for X number of full-time Canadian positions within the non-profit/charity within three year commitment. This would be done by signing a performance agreement Рmonitored by the relevant provincial/federal regulating body.  They would also be required to proactively report on their attendance and volunteer hours committed at monthly board meetings and receive references from the non-profit/charity  on a quarterly basis explaining their contribution to the non-profit/charity.

Meanwhile, the applicants would be given both work and study permits and strongly encouraged to pursue full-time studies in addition to their participation in actively serving the non-profit/charity.

At the end of the program, the applicant would have to demonstrate that they were able to maintain the X number of full-time positions at the non-profit/charity and explain their role in serving as a director.

Should the non-profit/charity close, the applicant would have the ability to transfer to another one in the pool. However, this would be contingent on the fact the applicant did not themselves cause the non-profit/charity to shut-down by breach of their agreement.

Should the applicant fall short, they can either be refused entry, extended in time to demonstrate a greater commitment, or provided options for them to transfer into further study/work on a temporary basis.


Teaching Canadian Values Through Volunteering on a Board

I think volunteering on a Board of a non-profit/charity is the absolute best way to learn about Canadian values and be engaged to the societal challenges currently facing our country. It creates buy-in, commitment, and even helps address the challenges investor immigrants face in finding jobs or opportunities later on.

Ultimately, I know the major challenge with my proposal will be ensuring this program does not become open to fraud, particularly where we know younger entrepreneurs (I would target this program at 19-27 years olds) may be taken advantage of. I think this is where government, by ensuring the funds are properly sourced and ensuring the non-profit/charities are reputable in reporting (much like for a government grant) these concerns can be alleviated.


What are your thoughts? Would you agree with such a program?



BC Re-Opened July 2nd With New Programs and Criteria


I apologize for the long period of no posts. Even checking twitter for #cdnimm news has become a bit of a luxury with several urgent client files on the go.

I wanted to update everybody on important changes that have been made to the BC PNP.

Note that the folowing post was co-written with (and, on that note, substantially written) by Steven Meurrens and can be found on his blog. We hope this piece serves as a good summary and breakdown of the information made available by the BC PNP. I have reposted it with his permission and ask that anybody who wishes to repost it does the same.


On July 2, 2015, the British Columbia Provincial Nomination Program (‚ÄúBC PNP‚ÄĚ) re-launched with new¬†program requirements and processes. ¬†The BC PNP remains divided into the Skills Immigration stream and the Entrepreneur Immigration stream.

The most significant changes to the BC PNP include:

  • Introducing an online application process with an electronic payment system;
  • Streamlining the Business Skills and Regional Business programs into one Entrepreneur Immigration stream based on an expression of interest model similar to Citizenship and Immigration Canada‚Äôs (‚ÄúCIC‚ÄĚ) Express Entry program;
  • Capping the intake in the Skills Immigration program to 200 new applications in 2015 (Express Entry BC, the Health Care Professionals Stream, and the North East Pilot Project are excluded from this cap); ¬†and
  • Requiring in the Skilled Immigration Stream that applicants with job offers in National Occupational Classification (‚ÄúNOC‚ÄĚ) B positions pass an English¬†language test.

Skills Immigration and Express Entry BC

The Skills Immigration is divided into the following substreams:

  • Skilled Worker
  • Health Care Professionals
  • International Graduates
  • International Post-Graduates
  • Entry Level and Semi-Skilled
  • North East Pilot Project

As well, the Express Entry BC stream is divided into the following substreams:

  • Skilled Worker
  • Health Care Professional
  • International Graduate
  • International Post-Graduate

Most of the requirements to the Skills Immigration streams and sub-streams remain largely unchanged. However, in addition to requiring that applicants apply online, the following are new program requirements:

  • In the Skilled Worker substream¬†the BC PNP has clarified that ‚Äúseveral years of directly related work experience‚ÄĚ means two or more years;
  • The ‚ÄúMarket Rate‚ÄĚ for a position is based on an applicant‚Äôs employment and educational experience. ¬†It is unclear whether this mean that the Low Rate on the Working in Canada website remains the threshold; and
  • Applicants with job offers in NOC B occupations must demonstrate English language proficiency at Canadian Language Benchmark (‚ÄúCLB‚ÄĚ) level 4.

The BC PNP will only be accepting 200 new Skills immigrant applications in 2015 [Update: this filled up 24 hours after it opened].  This limit does not apply to Express Entry BC, the Health Care Professional stream, or the Northeast Pilot Project.   New applications from individuals residing in Metro Vancouver are restricted to employment offers above the British Columbia median wage of $22.00 per hour.

Entrepreneur Immigration Stream

While the Skills Immigration Stream remains largely unchanged, the Entrepreneur Immigration Stream has been completely overhauled.

The Entrepreneur Immigration Stream is an expression of interest program similar to¬†CIC‚Äôs Express Entry.¬†¬†Applicants must register with the Entrepreneur Immigration Registration (‚ÄúEIR‚ÄĚ), and registrations will be ranked using a points system. ¬†The highest scoring individuals in the EIR will be invited to apply to the¬†Entrepreneur¬†Immigration stream. ¬†The BC PNP anticipates processing Entrepreneur Immigration Stream applications within 3 months. ¬† Successful individuals will be required to enter into a Performance Agreement with the BC PNP stipulating¬†time-frames¬†for the completion of their business¬†commitments. ¬†Once the entrepreneur satisfies the terms of the Performance Agreement, the BC PNP will issue the individual a nomination certificate which can be used to apply for permanent residency.

It is important to note that the BC PNP will only accept a maximum of 200 registrations per month.

To submit an EIR, a prospective individual must meet the following requirements:

  • Be lawfully admitted in the country that they reside;
  • Not be inadmissible to Canada or have an unresolved refugee claim in Canada;
  • Have a personal¬†net worth of $600,000.00;
  • Have either:
    • a minimum of more than three years experience as an active business owner-manager;
    • more than four years of experience as a senior manager; or
    • a combination of at least one year of experience as an active business owner-manager and at least two years of experience as a senior manager;
  • Have a minimum of two-years of post-secondary education or experience as an active business owner-manager with 100% ownership of the business for at least three of the past five years;

When registering for the BC PNP Entrepreneur Immigrant stream applicants will also need to submit short business concepts that will have to demonstrate that their proposed business meets several requirements, including:

  • that the business be an eligible business¬†established either through starting a new business, purchasing an existing business, partnering with an existing business, or partnering with a local or foreign entrepreneur to establish a new business;
  • that the individual make an eligible personal investment of at least $200,000 in the proposed business (or $400,000 if a Key Staff member is proposed); and
  • that the business¬†will create at least one permanent new full-time equivalent job for a Canadian citizen or permanent resident in the proposed business.

The BC PNP has introduced very stringent and complicated requirements regarding what constitutes an eligible personal investment that are extremely circumstance specific and beyond the scope of this update.

Scoring in the Entrepreneur Immigration pool is as follows:

Scoring Sections Points
    1. Experience 24
    2. Net Worth 12
    3. Personal Investment 30
    4. Jobs 36
    5. Adaptability 18
    6. Business Concept 80
Total Points Available 200

Experience points are calculated as follows:

Experience Total Duration Points
Business Owner-Manager Experience Less than 12 months 0
12 to 24 months 4
25 to 36 months 6
37 to 48 months 12
49 to 60 months 15
61 months or more 20
Senior Manager Work Experience Less than 24 months 0
24 to 48 months 4
49 to 60 months 8
61 months or more 12
The maximum score available for this section is 24.
The minimum points requirement is 8.
Individuals cannot get points for both Business Owner-Manager Experience and Senior Manager Work Experience, but rather have to choose.

Net worth points are scored as follows:

Personal Net Worth Points
Total Current Assets (cash and liquid funds) Less than $50,000 0
$50,000 to $199,999 1
$200,000 to $399,999 3
More than $400,000 6
Total Personal Net Worth Less than $600,000 0
$600,000 to $799,999 1
$800,000 to $1,999,999 3
$200,000,000 to $4,999,999 5
$5,000,000 or more 6
The maximum score available for this section is 12
The minimum points requirement for personal net worth is 1.

Eligible personal investment will be scored as follows:

Eligible Personal Investment Points
Less than $200,000 0
$200,000 to $399,999 6
$400,000 to $999,999 20
$1,000,000 or more 30
Applicants must score at least 6 points, or 20 points if they are proposing key staff, to meet the minimum requirement for this section.
The BC PNP will not consider as eligible any investment made prior to the date that an individual is invited to apply for nomination.

Jobs will be scored as follows:

Number of Full-time Equivalent  Job Positions Created and Maintained Points
Less than 1 0
1 2
2 6
3-4 12
5-6 20
7-8 28
9-10 32
11 or more 36
The maximum score available for this section is 36.
The applicant must score at least 2 points, or 12 if there is key staff.
The jobs created and maintained must pay wages that are consistent with the skill level of the position created

Adaptability will be scored as follows:

Factor Points
English language proficiency None or minimal, similar to CLB 3 and below 0
Basic understanding, similar to CLB  4 2
Intermediate and advanced, similar to CLB 5 and above 4
Education level Less than two years of post-secondary education 0
Two years or more of post-secondary education 3
Age Less than 20 0
21-39 3
40-60 4
61-64 2
65 or older 0
Business Exploratory Visits to British Columbia No 0
Yes, 1 or more years ago 1
Yes, less than 1 year ago 2
Canadian work experience, business experience, or studies from within Canada for at least 12 months No 0
Yes 5

The scoring for Business Concepts remains unclear.  12 points out of a possible 80 are based on the location of the proposed business as follows:

Population of BC Regional District Points
More than 500,000 people 0
200,000 to 500,000 1 point
100,00 to 200,000 3 points
70,000 to 100,000 6 points
60,000 to 70,000 8 points
35,000 to 60,000 10 points
Less than 35,000 people 12 points

The remaining 68 points are based on a variety of factors whose exact point allocation has not been released, and will be based on a 1,000 ‚Äď 1,500 word business concept that EIR registrants must submit. ¬†The points will be based on commercial viability, transferability of skills, and economic benefits. ¬†Applicants must score a minimum of 32 points, based on what at this point appears to be an unpublished checklist.

As noted above, the highest ranking applicants in the EIR will be invited to apply for nomination. Those applicants that are invited to apply will need to engage a qualified supplier to review their personal net worth and accumulation funds as part of the nomination process.  Once the nomination is approved, the applicant and the BC PNP will enter into a Performance Agreement, and the entrepreneur can start their business.  The BC PNP will support the entrepreneur in a work permit application to facilitate this.

Once the entrepreneur completes the terms of the Performance Agreement, he/she can submit a Final Report to the BC PNP to be issued a nomination certificate.  The entrepreneur must demonstrate to the BC PNP that they:

  • are¬†actively managing a business (i.e., be accountable for the day-to-day operations of the business) in British Columbia;
  • reside within 100 kilometers of the business;
  • have been physically present in¬†British Columbia for at least 75% of the time that the individual was on a work permit; and
  • have complied with any other terms of their Performance Agreement.

The nomination certificate can then be used to support a permanent residency application.

More information about the Skills Immigration and Express Entry BC programs can be found here: http://www.welcomebc.ca/Immigrate/About-the-BC-PNP/Skills-Immigration/Skilled-Workers.aspx

More information about the Entrepreneur Immigration Stream can be found here: http://www.welcomebc.ca/Immigrate/About-the-BC-PNP/Entrepreneur-Immigration/Program-Requirements.aspx

Please contact us if you have any questions or concerns about his upcoming change.

About Us
Will Tao is an Award-Winning Canadian Immigration and Refugee Lawyer, Writer, and Policy Advisor based in Vancouver. Vancouver Immigration Blog is a public legal resource and social commentary.

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