March 30, 2018 10:25 pm
Updated: March 31, 2018 11:47 am

It just got tougher to take Quebec’s back door into Vancouver and Toronto real estate

Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard speaks at a news conference at the end of a forum on diversity and anti-discrimination, Tuesday, December 5, 2017 in Quebec City. Quebec Immigration, Diversity and Inclusiveness Minister David Heurtel, left, looks on.

Jacques Boissinot/CP
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Quebec just made it a little harder for wealthy immigrants to walk through a back door into Vancouver and Toronto real estate.

On Wednesday, the provincial government announced changes that make it a touch harder to qualify for the Quebec Immigrant Investor Program (QIIP), a program that offers permanent residency in exchange for making an investment in the province.

WATCH: Quebec’s Immigrant Investor Program criticized for housing prices

The program once required applicants to hold net assets of $1.6 million and make an interest-free investment of $800,000 that would be returned to them after five years.

Those requirements have been tweaked, according to the Gazette Officielle du Quebec, which announces new laws and regulations.

The Gazette states that applicants must now have net worth of $2 million and make an interest-free investment of $1.2 million — which is still returned to them five years later.

READ MORE: How over 46,000 wealthy immigrants took a back door into Vancouver and Toronto’s housing markets

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Other requirements — that applicants must intend to reside in Quebec, that they must have management experience, that they be 18 years old and qualify to immigrate to the province under its points system — stay the same.

If applicants meet these qualifications, they may receive a Quebec Selection Certificate (CSQ), and then obtain permanent residency from the federal government.

But these are just the latest tweaks to a program that has come under fire for creating a “trampoline effect” that has seen wealthy immigrants arrive in Quebec, obtain permanent residency and then move to other parts of the country, mainly Vancouver and Toronto. More than 46,000 applicants have already taken this route to these cities, and their housing markets.

This chart shows where immigrant investors who came to Canada via Quebec were located as of 2016:

Quebec has also introduced stricter requirements when it comes to the selection of candidates, said Vancouver immigration lawyer Richard Kurland.

In an email to Global News, he said applicants will likely be rejected if they have relatives outside Quebec, if they have a child attending a school outside the province and if they have owned any property in Canada outside la belle province.

“Plus, if you have travelled to Canada but not Quebec, the case is eyed with suspicion,” Kurland wrote.

“Quebec is clamping down on ‘intent to reside.'”

With changes like these in place, Kurland expected the “trampoline effect” from Quebec to B.C. and Ontario to reduce by adjusting “intake.”

He also expected that Quebec would address “output” by “ramping up enforcement of cases where the person left Quebec at the time the person tries to renew their permanent resident card.”

Kurland said such a person many find themselves “gummed up in immigration processes for failure to locate in Quebec.

“And that would send a signal, if your plan is to apply here and move there, it won’t work.”

READ MORE: Report recommends Canada revive wealthy immigrant program linked to soaring home prices

But Kurland was less convinced that the changes to net assets and investment requirements would make a difference.

He said the increase to net worth was not significant, and that 90 per cent of investments are financed anyway — so much that the actual amount they invest from their own money is closer to $325,000.

Demand for these visas will keep exceeding their supply, “so Quebec is on the right path here,” Kurland said.

WATCH: Quebec immigrant investor program impacts B.C. real estate

It was previously estimated that investor immigrants could be bringing over a half a billion dollars to Vancouver’s housing market every year alone; that’s assuming each household only brought $1 million with them.

Quebec typically sets quotas for the number of investor immigrants that can be accepted; the province set at 1,900 the maximum number of applications it expected to receive between May 29, 2017 and Feb. 23, 2018.

The province’s immigration ministry has suspended the intake of applications through the QIIP until Aug. 15.

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