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  • Apr 23, 2014
  • Updated: 5:20am
NewsChina
MIGRATION

Exclusive: How mainland Chinese millionaires overwhelmed Canada's visa scheme

Mainland millionaires swamped HK consulate with applications and led to freezing of world's most popular investor immigration scheme

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 06 February, 2014, 11:44pm
UPDATED : Friday, 07 February, 2014, 12:16pm

Applications by tens of thousands of mainland millionaires flooded Canada's consulate in Hong Kong and overwhelmed the country's investor immigrant programme, an investigation by the South China Morning Post has revealed.

Canadian immigration department spreadsheets obtained by the Post show how the huge number of applications forced the government in Ottawa to freeze the world's most popular wealth-based migration scheme. One document, dated January 8 last year, showed there was a backlog of 53,580 Hong Kong-based applications for Canadian federal investor visas.

That represented more than 70 per cent of the global backlog.

And attempts by Ottawa in 2010 to tighten access to the coveted visas by doubling the wealth criteria had the effect of increasing Chinese domination.

In 2011, applications sent to the Hong Kong consulate made up 86 per cent of the global total.

Analysis of arrival data suggests that about 99 per cent of applications in Hong Kong were lodged by mainlanders. Under the scheme's current limits, applicants worth at least C$1.6 million (HK$11.2 million) receive residency if they "invest" C$800,000 in the form of a five-year interest-free loan to Canada.

The applications in the Hong Kong consulate's queue in January last year represented potential "investment" of C$7.5 billion.

The queue was revealed when Ottawa halted new applications to deal with the backlog in 2012.

What was not revealed was that the vast majority were applications by mainland Chinese which swamped a single consular office in Hong Kong.

Vancouver immigration lawyer Richard Kurland obtained the spreadsheets after making freedom of information requests, then shared them with the Post.

He said: "The scheme has not been handled properly. The programme is dramatically underpriced."

The spreadsheets do not distinguish between mainlanders and Hongkongers. But the Post's analysis of provincial arrival data suggests nearly all applications pending in Hong Kong were lodged by mainlanders.

This was confirmed by internal Canadian immigration data.

In British Columbia, preferred destination of most Chinese investors, mainland arrivals outstripped those of Hongkongers by 95 to one. Yet few applications were lodged in Beijing - only 252 from 2009 to 2011, compared to 63,796 in Hong Kong.

Former Canadian ambassador David Mulroney, who served in Beijing from 2009 to 2012, said he was aware at the time of the huge number of applications in Hong Kong compared to those in Beijing, but could not explain the disparity. "There might have been a technical reason," he said.

There were 3,643 investor visa approvals worldwide in 2012. The investigation shows applications received in Hong Kong soared from 520 in 2002 to 34,427 in 2010 - more than 81 per cent of the world total. The figure fell in 2011 as the rise in the wealth criteria took full effect, but still exceeded the processing capacity.

Canada's programme was by far the most popular such scheme among rich Chinese. By 2010, applications at the Hong Kong consulate surpassed the combined number received for investor migration schemes run by the US, the UK and Australia.

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y_eva@hotmail.com
I suppose a lot stuff is double-standard, such as views on immigration scheme. You welcome money but not the people have them? Well it is the government's job to decide which money to take rather than blindly everyone's. The bad new has always been that you cannot just expect money to be given for free. Well if citizenship now seen a commodity at the price of a private jet, then who commoditised it in the first place? If it is seen as a free resource to be traded then there is a price. Ever heard there is no free lunch? The policy maker really wants to think about is how to attract real eligible money that benefits the country and its citizens, be the local or the migrants who comes with money. There are money hard-earned out there by hard working normal Chinese and they simply wish to live a better life in a better country, if it is fair, non racist, not bias to start with. It is also this country's duty to protect its interest against any influx of 'dirty' money to take advantage of the seen 1-size-fit-all policy.
nicolas
It's SIMPLE, Mainlanders are not welcome by other nation because of their bad habit and attitude. The're really an eyesore to the nation...
nicolas
so....get improve first before migrating... we are now in the 21st century...this is Canada and not Hongkong... money cannot buy everything... every nation welcome and need a decent immigrant...
mercedes2233
Ever heard of the 'Ugly American' of the 50s? Things do improve, even Americans.
josephbrahmana
I wonder why it's all about "Mainland"? What about residents of Hong Kong who flocks to Canada to gain second citizenship? They don't speak neither English or French, talk obnoxiously, chew with their mouths open, spits everywhere, and have no clue about the ESSENCE of being a Canadian. Is there really a difference between HKnese and Mainland Chinese? Perhaps, the editor of this article would like to be more factual than bias??? Poor choice SCMP.
mercedes2233
Hello, hello. What about residents of HK who don't speak either Cantonese or Mandarin? And look down on the locals? Don't they have a home to go to instead of staying and condemning? Not good for their health.
ian_young
Hi Joseph. The SCMP has reported extensively on the phenomenon of HK-Canadian returnees. ****www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/article/1245494/tens-thousands-hongkongers-return-canada-post-finds?page=all The difference between HK and mainland Chinese migration to Canada is that the latter is a current phenomenon. Large-scale HK migration to Canada no longer occurs.
Camel
@Mr. Young
How hilarious your "blame those who comes after me" point of view.
ian_young
Hi Camel. As I have pointed out, the previous phenomenon was reported, previously. I'm reporting the current one, currently.
jiawang@adb.org
There will be a racist backlash against Chinese if there is ever a war with China.

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