Tens of thousands of Chinese and Asian citizens may have to find a new destination for their wealth after the Canadian government announced its intention to end its immigrant investor programme.
The Canadian federal Immigrant Investor Program provided limited economic benefit to the country, according to a news release on the website of the Canadian embassy in Beijing.
Research shows that immigrant investors pay less in taxes than other economic immigrants, are less likely to stay in Canada over the medium- to long-term and often lack the skills, including official language proficiency, to integrate as well as other immigrants from the same countries, it said.
“Our government is focused on attracting experienced business people and raising investment capital that will contribute to our economic success over the long term,” said Chris Alexander, Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration Minister. “Our government will continue to focus on economic immigration programs that make sense for Canada by ensuring our economic and labour market needs are being met now and into the future.”
The immigrant investor programme, which granted permanent residency to those who committed C$800,000 to a five-year zero-interest loan, was very popular among wealthy Chinese people.
The programme will be replaced with a new Immigrant Investor Venture Capital Fund, which will require immigrants to invest money, rather than just loan it.
Hong Kong media reported that Citizenship and Immigration Canada said that the investor queue stood at 65,000, and 70 per cent of the backlog as of January 2013 was Chinese, suggesting about 45,500 mainlanders will have their applications scrapped.
Canada has been a popular country for Chinese migrants since Ottawa largely opened its immigration policy to people from the Chinese mainland in 1996, and China has became the largest source of immigrants and international students in Canada, according to a report by the Center for China and Globalization released in late January.
The number of Chinese migrants globally was more than 9.3 million in 2013, nearly 2.3 times the figure 23 years ago, it reported.
However, Canada’s immigration policy changes have caused a lot of Chinese to lose their interest in the country.
“We have closed our Canadian sector, as it (the Canadian government) has cancelled or suspended some investment programs for immigration in the past two years,” said Gao Jia, a counselor with Globevisa, a Beijing-based immigration agency.
Wu Hongjie, a property specialist from Kingston Property Consulting in Beijing, said the new rule would not have much impact on Chinese purchasing Canadian properties, according to a report in Singapore.
“Chinese citizens are able to gain a 10-year multiple-entry visa to Canada, so citizenship is not that important as travel is very flexible between the two countries. Many Chinese clients are interested in small apartments in Canada as accommodation for their work, or for their children’s Canadian education, which will not be influenced much by immigration policies,” she said.