• Sun
  • Dec 21, 2014
  • Updated: 1:41am

Visa approvals for investor migrants to Canada's British Columbia plunge

Canada denies trying to curb influx of rich Chinese into British Columbia

PUBLISHED : Monday, 10 February, 2014, 4:47am
UPDATED : Monday, 10 February, 2014, 4:25pm

Visa approvals for would-be investor migrants to British Columbia (BC) have plunged, an investigation into Canada's millionaire migration scheme has found - but federal authorities deny trying to stem the influx of rich Chinese to the province.

Tens of thousands of wealthy mainlanders have settled in Vancouver, BC's biggest city, in recent years, raising concerns about their social and economic impact, including on the city's sky-high property market.

Data obtained by the South China Morning Post found that approvals to move to BC under the federal Immigrant Investor Programme in 2012 dropped to 1,778, down 42 per cent compared to the average of more than 3,000 per year for the preceding five years.

Actual arrivals also slumped. From 2003 to 2010, BC consistently received about 50 per cent of all investor migrant arrivals nationally. However, in 2011, BC's share fell to 36 per cent. In 2012, it fell again, to 28 per cent (the national tallies include a separate scheme run by Quebec).

Under the federal investor programme, principal applicants worth a minimum C$1.6 million (HK$11.25 million) must loan the Canadian government C$800,000 interest-free for five years. They and their dependents get residency visas and can apply for citizenship later.

But applications have been frozen since 2012 to clear a massive backlog of would-be migrants, most of them Chinese.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) denied the declines were an attempt to reduce the number of rich migrants heading for BC. About 37,000 officially arrived there from 2005 to 2012.

"CIC has not deliberately increased or decreased the number of applications it processes based on province of destination. Generally speaking, CIC processes applications on a first come, first served basis," spokeswoman Sonia Lesage said.

Lesage did not address a question about whether the processing of Chinese applications had been slowed, which could have the side effect of reducing BC-bound migration.

Eighty per cent of Chinese applicants to the federal scheme say they plan to live in BC, and there were 57,308 Chinese in the backlog of 75,651 as of January last year. BC-bound Chinese are thus estimated to make up 60 per cent of the entire federal queue.

The declines in BC-bound approvals are proportional, as well as numerical; they constituted 49 per cent of all federal approvals in 2012, but averaged 60.1 per cent in the preceding decade.

Lesage also responded to a Post report last week which revealed that Canada's Hong Kong consulate had been swamped with applications from tens of thousands of rich mainlanders seeking investor visas. This triggered the shutdown of the application system worldwide in 2012.

She said mainland applications had been consolidated in Hong Kong in 2012 as a way of "reducing overhead costs, and to streamline programmes and operations". "That is why the bulk of IIP applications from China are at the Hong Kong office," she said.

However, CIC spreadsheets obtained by the Post show Hong Kong as having received the vast bulk of Chinese applications since 2002.


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This article is now closed to comments

How can a loan be an investment? Just charge them all a couple million to buy a passport...
Surely people pay for these 'services'? And surely the immigrants would be positive assets with payments for housing, private education, purchases of Mercedes, start-ups of businesses and creation of local jobs etc? It is most unlikely that these wealthy families sit around for five years just waiting for handouts.
What is Canada playing at? First it announces a scheme which invites wealthy people to apply for immigration, and now it is stalling on processing applications. Just abandon the scheme and save on all this brouhaha-ing.
"Under the federal investor programme, principal applicants worth a minimum C$1.6 million (HK$11.25 million) must loan the Canadian government C$800,000 interest-free for five years. They and their dependents get residency visas and can apply for citizenship later." A very dump policy! Canada 5 year Treasury around 2% , so total interest cost is 80k cdn for 5 years. It probably costs canada more than 80k to provide all services to a family of 3 easily.
This article makes it look like Canada is so evil The REAL reason is because so many Mainland immigrants were scamming the system. One province suspended its individual program cause the mainlanders weren't meeting their obligations. ****thetyee.ca/News/2012/11/21/BC-Foreign-Investment-Review/
Hong Kong may or may not be affected by stricter immigration rules in Canada for mainland Chinese or any immigrants. For those who can’t get around the new rules may look at Hong Kong again to hide their money by buying up the so call luxury flats even at doubling the property tax. Hong Kong government must now prepare a position to take in view of scarcity of land. I must remind the government that Hong Kong isn't short of money. But if housing shortage continues just be prepared to spend your reserve on social problems that would become even more.
I foresee without the intervention of the Central government, Hong Kong government may not be able to stop the new wave of such possible ‘immigration’ that happily welcomed by our property developers. Without an initiative move by Hong Kong government, what comes from the Central government later otherwise would never be acceptable to Hong Kongers. Unnecessary headache for everyone.
I'm no immigration consultant, but I believe that in order to get the citizenship, they must also adopt Canada as their place of residence for a minimum of 3 years. In practice, I think that means that dad can keep on working in Asia while the kids and mom reside in Canada. During that period, they must report worldwide income (including capital gains, dividends, and rental income) to Canadian and provincial authorities. It's possible, but quite risky, to not report all the income because the fines are heavy when found out.
Not sure that rich Chinese immigrants are heavy users of government services in Canada. If they can afford it, they might prefer to go for medical treatment at luxurious private hospitals in the U.S. They're also likely to send their children to private schools.
I am certain they purchase property which increases local demand leading to the locals being priced out of the property market. Vancouver is an excellent example. The long term social and economic costs far outweigh the short term benefits to existing property owners.


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