Over the last several years high net worth individuals have turned their attention abroad in search of new markets, better opportunities, and freedom to move about the globe uninhibited. Recent political and economic circumstances in leading world markets have given investors a sense of urgency, and they have begun their search for stable, long term investments that provide generational security and new opportunities.
Dual citizenship is not a new offering, but it has become more significant and is now seen as a way to strategically access lucrative markets in North America, most notably Canada and the United States. While both countries offer many advantages to investors and their families, there are key differences between the investor visas offered in North America.
We’ll explore the types of Canada investor visas, and how they compare to offerings in the United States.
Exploring the different types of Canada investor visas
Canada offers several investor visas and provincial nominee programs, but many are specific to each province and come with their own unique set of requirements.
Canada’s Start-Up Visa Program is considered a general business immigration program and is the most flexible in terms of location. Businesses that are launched under the Start-Up Visa may be built anywhere in the country, but a number of strict requirements must be met.
- There is a language requirement. While many investors who would consider a North American citizenship most likely speak English, it should be known that Canada requires you to meet a fluency benchmark immediately upon application for your Start-Up Visa.
- You will also need to have the support of outside parties to fund your business venture. This is a problematic requirement for investors who are independently wealthy and wish to start their own business. Not everyone wants the assistance of outside investors who will have their own ideas and direction for the company.
Canada also offers entrepreneurial or “investor visas,” which vary by province. These visas are also referred to as Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs). Each province has their own set of requirements, which means you must tailor your business goals to meet that province’s needs.
If your business and citizenship goals align closely with British Columbia, you may be disappointed to find out that you might not meet the requirements, and would instead need to opt for an investor program in Ontario. This is only an example, but it highlights how you must cater your needs to fit those of each specific province. This can be very limiting to investors.
One of the most prohibitive factors of a Canadian investor visa is that the business you open must be a unique business that benefits the Canadian economy. The Canadian government favors software development and new technologies companies. If your business is not under one of these in-demand industries, your application may be rejected simply on this basis. This is a distinct disadvantage compared to the US E-2 visa, which allows you to set up any type of business so long as it is approved by the US government.
Section 205 work visas and inter-corporate transferee work visas are also available throughout Canada, but these visas require significant start-up capital, or you must be a sponsored employee of an existing company. For independently wealthy investors, these two options may not meet your investment goals.
Now that you understand more about the various visas offered in Canada, it’s time to consider critical factors such as family satisfaction and whether you’ll be happy in your new home country. Obtaining a second citizenship is far more than a financial decision—it affects your spouse and family for generations to come. There are many factors to consider while making your decision to move and invest.
Canada presents a more challenging financial & physical climate
The decision to invest abroad and pursue citizenship by investment programs is more than a social or personal decision—it’s a considerable financial investment that comes with taxation concerns. One of the most common reasons foreign investors pursue citizenship by investment is to find relief from global taxation, and a more hospitable economic environment to conduct business.
Investors who are seeking friendly tax environments are not likely to find them in Canada. The practical tax rate in Canada is much higher than the United States income tax. Canada’s practical tax rate is approximately 28%, while the income tax in the US is approximately 18%.
The cost of living in Canada is also considerably higher due to increased taxes overall. Goods and services cost more money in Canada, and the government does not recognize credit scores or credit history from other countries. This can make it incredibly difficult to invest in property or even get a credit card upon arriving.
For many immigrant families, the lure of “free” healthcare in Canada is a large draw. Sadly, the assumption that you will receive healthcare immediately upon arrival is simply not true. There is a three-month waiting period to apply for public health insurance in Canada. This presents considerable setbacks, as wait times to see a doctor or specialist can take months at a time. This, coupled with the approval waiting period for healthcare, make it difficult to receive immediate assistance.
Depending on where you are immigrating from, the Canadian climate may be inhospitable and intolerable for you. In the United States citizens have access to a varied number of geographical features and climates. The southern US is often hot and humid, while coastal states are temperate. The middle of the US offers a wide range of climates and scenery, from lush forests and open plains, to deserts and mountain ranges that span hundreds of miles.
In short, finding a comfortable place to reside in the US is much easier than in Canada. Canada’s far north position means most provinces experience harsh winters and less varied seasons. For immigrants coming from arid and hot or mild climates, adjusting to the Canadian atmosphere can be incredibly challenging and uncomfortable. Furthermore, your options to relocate to a different province are extremely limited.
The US allows national & global mobility
One of the greatest benefits of dual citizenship is the enhanced global mobility offered by having a second passport. Citizenship in a highly sought after country like Grenada opens the door to being able to travel freely to 140 other countries, including the UK, China and other key destinations. This freedom to travel without a visa is a key advantage for investors and their families whose goals are to obtain unfettered access to world markets and better social opportunities.
As you evaluate your second citizenship options, you need to carefully examine what each citizenship provides, including access to other countries through visa programs. In the case of Canada investor visas, the investor and his family are largely limited by province, which means you must reside within the province your visa was approved for. If you decide you don’t like your new city or province, you cannot simply relocate elsewhere in Canada.
In the United States, however, you have the freedom to move to any state and are not tethered to one specific region in order to operate your approved business. Furthermore, under the US E-2 visa, your spouse can work anywhere in the US, and your children are free to attend any public school in the United States for in-state tuition cost. Canada simply cannot compete with the superior mobility offered by a US residency.
How to access the United States through Grenada Citizenship
The United States has a unique relationship with Grenada, in that the two countries share a Treaty of Trade and Commerce. This important treaty allows Grenada citizens to apply for the highly valuable United States E-2 visa. Through this visa, a foreign investor and his or her family can invest in a US approved business, and in return receive the opportunity to live, work and study in the US.
Furthermore, E-2 visa participants can reside in the US for 120 days without being subject to global income taxation. This is a key advantage for investors who are looking to maximize their investment potential.
Accessing the United States via Grenada citizenship is a fairly straightforward process:
Step 1. You must obtain Grenada citizenship. To obtain citizenship you must participate in a citizenship by investment program. These programs allow you to make an investment in a government-approved real estate project. In return, the Grenada government will grant you citizenship.
Step 2. After you receive your Grenada citizenship, you may be eligible to apply for the US E-2 visa.
Step 3. In order to be approved for an E-2 visa, you must make an investment in a US approved business venture. This investment typically costs a minimum of $150,000 USD.
Step 4. When your E-2 visa status is approved, you and your spouse and dependent children will be granted access to reside, work and live in the United States.
There are many nuances to each of these steps, and a trusted citizenship consultant will be able to help you navigate the process.
While there are many countries that offer citizenship by investment programs, Grenada is among the most affordable and offers the key advantage of accessing the United States. Compared to the limited mobility and visa options available in Canada, the choice is clear: an investment in Grenada simply offers more.
As you evaluate all of your investment options this year, take time to speak with a qualified citizenship b investment consultant. We can provide you personalized advice and locate a citizenship by investment program that meets your social, financial and familial goals. We want to help you achieve generational security and maximize your business potential.
To learn more about citizenship by investment and all of your options in Grenada and the Caribbean, visit our citizenship by investment library.