CHARLOTTETOWN -- Two Charlottetown motel owners accused of setting up fake addresses for Chinese immigrants to Prince Edward Island have pleaded not guilty to immigration fraud charges.

Defence lawyer Lee Cohen entered the pleas for his two clients Wednesday in provincial court in Charlottetown.

Judge Nancy Orr decided that an eight-day trial will begin Nov. 30, with seven other days set aside in December.

"The court has set dates that are earlier than any of the lawyers wanted, but the court had openings in its schedule," Cohen said in an interview. "We're going to have to expedite our preparation ... But that shouldn't get in the way of our game plan or our hope for success."

In May, the Canada Border Services Agency charged 60-year-old Ping Zhong with three counts of aiding and abetting misrepresentation under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. Five charges were laid against her 58-year-old brother, Yi Zhong.

The siblings are alleged to have provided residential addresses to business immigrants seeking permanent residency, though the immigrants didn't really live on the Island as required under the province's immigration system.

The CBSA says 566 immigrants used the same two addresses between 2008 and 2015 -- the siblings' Sherwood Motel and Ping Zhong's Charlottetown home.

Nearly all of the immigrants were eventually granted permanent residency under the provincial nominee program, the Island's main business immigration program.

Cohen confirmed that a pre-trial conference is slated for Oct. 3 with federal Crown prosecutor Caroline Lirette.

He said that conference will help determine whether an agreed statement of facts can be drafted by the Crown and defence.

As well, there will be discussion about the sworn statements provided by the two accused.

"I'm suggesting the possibility that the statements were not voluntarily given," Cohen said. "At the pre-trial, we will tell the judge whether we think they were or they weren't."

Court documents say the border agency began its investigation in March 2015, when a border officer red-flagged a fancy watch that was nabbed at Halifax's international airport.

A subsequent computer search showed more than 300 immigrants entering Canada under P.E.I.'s business immigration program had used the motel as a "mailing and/or residential address." A further search showed more than 200 immigrants had used 27 Beach Grove Rd., the home of hotel owner Ping Zhong.

CBSA officers soon determined that most of these immigrants were actually living in other places, including in Vancouver or Toronto.

Several Canadian immigration lawyers have argued the P.E.I. program is flawed because it grants permanent residency before there's proof the immigrants have actually stayed on the Island to create a business for a year.

Instead, the system nominates would-be immigrants for permanent residency, and the coveted status is awarded after federal vetting for health and security.

The immigrants do stand to forfeit a $150,000 escrow deposit, a price many are apparently willing to pay.

Last year over half of all the 269 applicants forfeited their deposit and never opened a business, raising $18 million for the small province.