The Migration Policy Institute, which analyzes global migration policies, completed a 2014 study that concluded investor programs are enticing in theory, but have results that are “modest at best.”

The study was published the same year that the Canadian government, then the Conservatives, shut down the national cash-for-visa program.

The federal program had offered immediate permanent resident status – and therefore immediate entitlement to Canada’s social program network and protection under the Charter of Rights – in return for an $800,000 investment in a government bond over a five-year period.

But Quebec has continued with its program, using identical financial criteria, and in 2015 accepted in a record number of applicants.

The program’s continuation has caused tension because while Quebec gets the lion’s share of the financial benefits, more than 80 per cent of new arrivals under the Quebec program settle immediately in Toronto or Vancouver – where critics say they play a role in fuelling the red-hot housing markets.

The institute’s founder, Demetrios Papademetriou, said it’s no surprise investors line up to use the Quebec program when there are similar schemes in the U.S., the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and many European countries.

“It’s is among the most generous, particularly when you compare how desirable it is to make it to Canada,” Papademetriou said Tuesday in an interview from Washington, D.C.

Here is how the programs compare:

• Quebec: Requires a $800,000 bond investment for five years, with the interest (currently about $50,000) going into provincial government coffers. The investor, who must prove he or she has assets worth at least $1.6 million, gets immediate permanent resident status.

• United States: This program requires investors to put US$500,000 in a potentially risky corporate endeavour, meaning applicants can and sometimes do lose their investment. In return, the investor gets a temporary resident card and after two years can seek permanent residence status.

• United Kingdom: Requires applicants to invest two million pounds ($3.4 million Cdn.) in a government bond or stocks in return for a three-year resident visa that can be extended for another two years, followed by the possibility of obtaining permanent resistant status. One of the UK’s restrictions, however, prevents investors from putting their money into real estate.

• Australia: Requires a $1.5-million investment in a company, but the investor must also be under 45 years of age, have assets of $2.25 million, have a “vocational level of English-language” proficiency, and proof of business experience. Australia has other programs for older investors, though these have greater restrictions. For instance, those over age 55 can’t have dependents.

• New Zealand: Limits applicants to age 65 or younger, requires they can speak English and make a $1.5-million investment in a five-year government bond. They must also prove they intend to settle there, and have the ability to do so.

• France: Allows investors to live there for up to 10 years by investing at least 10 million euros ($14.4 million) in “industrial or commercial assets” in France. Other European countries are less stringent.

Germany: Requires a one million euro investment that will create at least 10 jobs, but applicants must also prove they have health insurance and enough money to support themselves. Only after holding a five-year residency permit, and showing they can speak German, can they apply for permanent residency status.

Papademetriou said many countries rushed into the programs starting in the 1980s but have since toughened restrictions or, in the Canadian government’s case, cancelled the program after realizing the benefits were marginal.

One of the issues touching Vancouver, he said, is not unusual among countries that have launched investor programs and then faced pressures due to an influx of money, especially from Asia.

“When you have hyperinflation in housing, and you have the local population not getting on first step ladder to owning a home, that creates additional resentment.”

Pressure to end investor programs is often countered by financial interests that benefit, he said.

Lawyers and consultants, such as those acting as brokers in the Quebec program, “make a lot of money out of these things.”

Source: Quebec visa program one of world’s most attractive: Think-tank | Vancouver Sun