A Caution on Switiching from $400,000 to $800,000

The Federal Immigrant Investor Program (“FIIP“) re-opened on December 1, 2010.  The requirements for the FIIP have increased. Applicants will now have to prove a personal net worth of CAD 1.6-million (an increase from the previous $800,000) and make a passive $800,000 (an increase from the previous $400,000) investment with the Government of Canada.

The last days of the old FIIP saw a surge in the number of investor applicants, with some government officials saying that close to 10,000 applications had been received in the FIIP’s last months.  However, processing times for applicants under the new FIIP are expected to be significantly lower under the new program than for those whose applications had been submitted under the old program.  This has led several applicants to ask if they can simply switch to the new FIIP.

Those applicants that wish to switch from the old FIIP to the new program would be wise to review their application which they already submitted to Citizenship and Immigration Canada (“CIC“).  Specifically, they would be wise to review what they declared their personal net worth to be.  If they declared a net worth that was significantly below the now required 1.6-million, and file a new application claiming a net worth exceeding $1.6-million then switching programs might result in the applicant being declared inadmissible to Canada for misrepresentation.

Senior CIC officials have confirmed that they will be comparing the declared personal net worth amounts for applicants who try to switch from the old FIIP to the new.  It is important to note that under the  FIIP applicants were always required to declare their entire net worth, not simply an amount that would make them eligible for the program. The CIC official specifically noted that while increases in an individual’s net worth may reasonably appear over time, a doubling of the disclosed personal net worth within a year or so of the previous application calls into question the legitimacy of any new application.

There are two main reasons for this. First, applicants have always been required to truthfully answer all forms.  Abruptly changing one’s personal net worth requirement would call into question whether one had committed a misrepresentation.  Second, individuals have to declare their entire net worth so that CIC can ensure that the net worth was legally obtained. If applicants are not disclosing certain assets or debts, then it is impossible for CIC to do its job.

Investors wishing to switch programs would thus be wise to pause before switching programs.  This is not to suggest that applicants should not consider switching as a possibility. However, they would be wise to speak with experienced representatives who will know how best to “structure the switch” before doing so.


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