In 2014, Canada discontinued the Immigrant Investor Program—which gave well-heeled internationals Canadian citizenship in exchange for interest-free loans government loans—but the Quebec Immigrant Investor Program remains operational and the province is allowing wealthy investors into the country who have disguised assets and faked documents.
The findings have been unearthed by Radio-Canada's investigative program Enquête after speaking to anonymous civil servants who say they were pressured to look the other way. Some of the investors granted citizenship couldn’t even find Quebec on a map, while others’ fortunes are founded on corruption and otherwise ill-gotten means.
“It’s a program that has lots of gaps, that permits people with dubious or even illicit business to launder money through the program and to buy themselves citizenship inexpensively,” a former immigration officer said is quoted as saying.
The Enquête reporters spoke to many former civil servants who claim that flaws in the immigration program have given permanent residency to thousands of people since it began in 1986, many of whom, it has been determined, have cheated their way into the country.
It has long been speculated that wealthy internationals granted citizenship after Canada discontinued its program have been using the Quebec program without even landing in the province, often heading straight to B.C. and Ontario. Only 10% stay in Quebec.
Through the QIIP, 1,900 people plus their family members are granted citizenship, and about two-thirds come from Mainland China. Last year, 5,000 people obtained citizenship through the QIIP, likely because of financial quotas.
“We were under a lot of pressure to approve applicants in order to meet annual financial targets,” said one ex-bureaucrat.
The immigrations officials were provided insufficient time to screen applicants—a mere seven hours—but suspicious patterns emerged.
“The applicants were all heads of sales, then became assistant managers,” said the same ex-bureaucrat. “The first time you have an applicant like that, you tell yourself, ‘Why not.’ Then you get 10, 20, 30 more from the same immigration consultant. It raises serious doubts about their backstory.”
Another bureaucrat says that they rejected an applicant but were then subsequently instructed to be more lenient because Quebec, too, has elements of corruption.