Immigrant Investor Applicants Take Canadian Government Back to Court Over Program Cancellation

Canada’s cancelled Immigrant Investor Program will be back in federal court next year as investors from Hong Kong challenge the program’s cancellation in a class action lawsuit.

The Immigrant Investor Program (IIP) was the subject of a court challenge earlier in 2014 when a group of Hong Kong investors sued the federal government over the long processing times associated with the IIP. The court case ended with the judge ruling in the government’s favour, recognizing that there is no right to immigration.

The immigration lawyer who led the IIP court case earlier this year, Tim Leahy, is now teaming up with Rocco Galati, known for challenging the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act in federal court, to address the IIP one last time through Canada’s courts.

While Leahy’s last IIP case focused on the lengthy processing times associated with the program prior to its cancellation, the new lawsuit will challenge the cancellation of the program and the elimination of the backlogged applications in February of 2014.

The IIP was a Canadian immigration program that allowed for foreign nationals with a net worth of at least $1,600,000 to obtain permanent residence in Canada if they were willing to make a 5 year interest free loan of $800,000 to the federal government. The program was heavily criticized as a way for wealthy foreigners to buy their way to Canadian citizenship without a connection to Canada or any intention to live in Canada.

The program skyrocketed in popularity in recent years, with China and Hong Kong representing the largest sources of immigrant investors. As the program grew in popularity, the backlog and processing times grew as well, with the backlog in Hong Kong alone increasing from 1,645 applications in 2006 to 16,340 applications by 2012. The program stopped accepting new applications in 2012, and the entire backlog was eliminated without processing when the program was cancelled in February.

If the investors’ case is successful and the judge rules that the closure of the program with backlogged applications is illegal, the ruling will set an important legal precedent. If a positive ruling also included the requirement that the government reinstate the backlogged applications, applications to Canadian immigration programs could see significant increases in processing times.

FWCanada is a Montreal-based immigration law firm that provides professional legal services on Canadian immigration. For more tips and updates on Canadian immigration follow FWCanada on Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin.

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