Effective December 1, 2010, Citizenship and Immigration Canada once again began accepting applications under the federal Immigrant Investor Program.
Under the new program criteria, investor applicants will need to have a personal net worth of $1.6 million, up from $800,000 under the old criteria, and make an investment of $800,000, up from the previous requirement of $400,000.
These changes have had an enormous impact on the processing of applications, says Ravi Jain, a partner at Green and Spiegel, the oldest, largest immigration firm in the country.
Jain, who handles, on average, 1000 cases a year, is among the small percentage of immigration lawyers who are certified specialists in Citizenship and Immigration Law by the Law Society of Upper Canada. To be thus certified, a lawyer has to be recommended by peers, show a number of applications and appeals cases and be assessed.
He was invited to address Canada’s Senate as an expert witness on immigration law and appeared before the Senate Standing Committee on Human Rights in 2008. Regularly featured in print and television media, he is among the one per cent of immigration lawyers with a Masters. Jain is certainly one of the few, and may be the only person, to have formally studied both Canadian and American immigration law at law schools in each respective country. He graduated from Queen's University at the top of his program and then attended the Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto, where he was selected to participate in the Intensive Program in Immigration and Refugee Law. He graduated with the second highest grade point average in this program. He then gained admission to the University of Michigan Law School, a "top 10" American law school, for his Masters of Laws.
Over the years, Jain has worked closely with various HRSDC offices, Canadian embassies and high commissions and with the US consulate in Toronto and the US embassy in Ottawa. He practices all aspects of Canadian immigration law, from processing permanent immigration and temporary work permit applications to appeal work at the Immigration and Refugee Board and at the Federal Court of Canada. He has successfully argued many cases before the Immigration and Refugee Board, particularly involving genuine marriage and medical inadmissibility cases. He has also represented clients often in the Federal Court of Canada. He works extensively with corporate clients in securing temporary work permits and visas to the United States.
Much of this work relates to NAFTA and intra-company transferee applications as well as visa processing at the US consulate and US embassy.
“Applicants can apply under the investor category either under the federal investor program or the Quebec investor program,” says Jain. “When the feds froze their investor program, for a while there was no viable investor program running. But because Quebec kept theirs going, many applicants chose to shift their applications to Quebec. Then Quebec froze theirs, too. Now, not only are the new rules applicable retroactively, but new applications are being given priority.”
Which means someone who applied before the rules were changed – even if their files were in the system already – now not only has to show twice the funds to qualify, his application also moves to the bottom of the heap.
Jain says they have told some of their clients that it makes more sense to refile their applications.
The changes were a result of the growing affluence among middle class Chinese, says Jain. “For many of them, $800,000 is not such a big deal.”
For applicants from India, it’s a different story.
“Documentation from India is a challenge,” states Jain. “India is considered a high-risk country.”
People trying to evade taxes often show only a fraction of their actual wealth, says Jain.
“If someone is showing exactly $1.6 million, he’s probably worth a lot more! I make it clear that I will not take a case unless I see the numbers on paper.”
The new rules do not affect the federal skilled worker category.
• For processing times, go to the Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s website, www.cic.gc.ca, and look under Investor, Economic Class, by country. The website currently shows a processing period of 28 months for applications filed in Delhi.
• Ravi Jain can be contacted at 416-862-7880.