Golden Visas, as we know them today, originated in Europe as a consequence of the 2008 economic crash. The recession hit a number of Southern European nations, including Greece, Spain and Portugal very hard. And it is in these countries that the most famous Golden Visa Programs were first launched.
These countries’ governments sought to attract foreign direct investment into their property markets. They therefore started offering highly flexible “Plan B” style residency programs to investors who made a significant investment in their real estate.
The key benefit of these programs, outside of gaining EU residency rights, is that the visa applicant is not obligated to go settle in their host country. In fact, Portugal’s Golden Visa Program only requires applicants to spend one week per year, on average, in Portugal, while the Greek program has no minimum stay requirements whatsoever.
The reason for this indulgence is that these countries were after investment; NOT new residents per se. In fact, it’s estimated that over 95% of Golden Visa residents don’t up sticks and go settle outside of their home country. (Although many intend to start spending meaningful amounts of time in their second home country when they retire).
Canada, in contrast, is looking for people. Given the sheer size and low population density of the country, Canada is looking for qualified, suitably skilled new residents to come and settle there, to participate in the economy, pay taxes, and raise families.
While the country does offer a host of immigration options, including a range of attractive investor visa programs, none of these can really be used as a “paper residency”, or a back-up plan in case something goes terribly wrong at home.
With Canada, you have to go actually live there.
Another key difference between conventional Golden Visas and Canada’s investor residency programs is the type of investment required. Whereas European Golden Visas typically require a property investment, none of Canada’s Investor Visa Programs offer a real estate option.
Instead, in Canada, you either have the option of making a 0% yield loan to the government (in Quebec province), or by making a significant, sector specific business investment (via a range of Provincial Nominee Programs), Alternatively, you can also gain permanent residency by launching a startup in Canada under the federal Canadian Startup Visa Program.
With the latter, you have to gain the support of a government Designated Organization (you can learn more about the country’s Startup Visa requirements here).
While terms like Golden Visas, Residency By Investment and even Citizenship By Investment are often used interchangeably, there are distinct differences that are vital to grasp. Let’s take a look at the key differences below: