By Andy Semotiuk, Forbes Contributor
Recently I traveled to Nigeria with Michael Petrucelli, the former Deputy Director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service and now representative of the U.S. Freedom Capital regional center in Texas and Dillon Colucci, an EB5 immigration attorney with the law firm of Greenberg Taurig. We traveled to Lagos to meet with potential investor clients presenting two investor immigration options to them: the U.S. EB5 green card option and the Canadian Quebec investor immigrant option. It soon became clear to us that we needed to compare and contrast the two programs for prospective clients and that is what I propose to do in this article. The table below provides you with a nice summary of what we came up with.
The U.S. program requires a passive investment of $500,000 U.S. compared to $ 800,000 Canadian or, in other words, a passive investment of about $640,000 U.S. While you cannot finance your investment in the U.S., Canadian financial institutions will lend you the amount required and pay it to the Province of Quebec in your name if you assign the return of the funds to them at a one time cost of $220,000 Canadian, or in other words $200,000 U.S. In the U.S. the money is paid to a private regional center project and is at risk. In Canada the money is paid to the Quebec government and is repaid by that government at the end of the term of the investment.
In the U.S. program, for making the investment your green card allows you to settle anywhere in that country where, obviously, the prevailing language is English. In Canada, you must persuade Quebec officials that you intend to live in the Province of Quebec where the prevailing language is French, although later because of the freedom of movement provision in Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms many investors migrate to other parts of the country.
The U.S. does a due diligence review only on the $500,000 U.S. being invested in the EB5 program, but does not expand the inquiry into all other finances of the investor as does the Quebec government that reviews the financial affairs of the investor from day one. In either case the investment is usually for a period of five years but the processing time for approval of the immigrant is quicker in the U.S., being about two years whereas in Canada it takes approximately three or four years.
To maintain your permanent resident status in the United States once you got it, assuming you have a residence there, prima facie you only need to show that you have been in the U.S. for one day in each six month period. For Canada you must prove you have been physically present for 730 days in each five-year period. In the U.S. you can get citizenship after permanent residence of five years provided you show you have been physically present for at least two and one half years, in Canada you must show you have been physically present for four out of the last six years and in addition that you were not away from Canada for more than six months in any one of those years.
One last difference is that in the U.S. you initially get a two-year green card that is conditional on showing that you created 10 jobs or more in that time period before you can renew that green card for the normal green card. In Canada there is no conditional period of residence, you simply get permanent residence.
Recently because of the large number of investors coming from China, there has been a retrogression of applications from that country to both the U.S. and Quebec, but this delay in processing is not affecting investors from other countries.
Most investors decide which country they prefer based on other factors such as family members in the target country, educational opportunities, climate preferences, ethnic ties or such other considerations and that was certainly the case with the Nigerian investors we met with in Lagos. Hopefully this article will help future immigrants to make an informed choice between the investor programs in the two North American countries.