P.E.I. shutting down major piece of PNP immigration program
The P.E.I. government will no longer accept applications from immigrants looking to set up a business in the province in exchange for immediate permanent residency.
The government announced the closure of the entrepreneur stream of the Provincial Nominee Program Wednesday morning.
"We recognized the need for greater scrutiny of our immigration programs," said Economic Development Minister Chris Palmer in a news release.
Palmer said it is clear there are concerns about the entrepreneur program, and so government decided to eliminate it entirely. There will be one final draw for the program on Sept. 20, with a maximum of 10 applicants selected. That last draw, said government, is to provide adequate notice.
Concerns about P.E.I.'s immigration programs have included a major investigation by the Canadian Border Services Agency.
Two people are charged with immigration fraud. CBSA alleges hundreds of immigrants used just three addresses of convenience, including the Sherwood Motel, to suggest they were living on P.E.I. as required when they were not.
The two have pleaded not guilty. Their trial is scheduled to begin Nov. 30.
A second CBSA probe, currently underway, alleges hundreds of more immigrants gained permanent residency in a similar but separate scheme.
Entrepreneurs can still apply
While the entrepreneur stream is closed, there are still opportunities for entrepreneur immigrants to come to P.E.I.
The difference is the entrepreneurs will not be granted immediate permanent residency. The business must be shown to be successful and continuously operating for at least a year. The government said this is in line with other jurisdictions across the country.
P.E.I. has aggressively pursued immigrants over the last decade. In 2017 immigration helped make P.E.I. the fastest growing province in the country.
Under the cancelled program immigrants selected through the business stream provided a refundable escrow deposit of $200,000 to the province. Of that, $150,000 was considered the business portion. The remaining $50,000 was the residency portion.
With that deal signed, the province would nominate the investor as a permanent resident. The immigrant usually received their permanent residency in the mail before moving to the Island and setting up a business.