Rich Chinese axed from Canada visa queue get March 31 deadline to join lawsuit

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 19 March, 2014, 11:10pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 20 March, 2014, 7:20am

Wealthy would-be migrants whose visa applications were dumped when Canada axed its immigrant investor programme last month have until the end of March to join a legal case demanding that their applications be assessed.

Toronto immigration lawyer Tim Leahy, who brought the case on behalf of the mostly Chinese claimants, said the judge in the case had on Tuesday set a date of June 4 for the judicial review to be heard in Canada's federal court.

About 100 applicants to the investor scheme have already joined the case, but Leahy said on Tuesday that the department of justice "has tentatively agreed to consent to the request for those whose names and file numbers I submit by March 31".

Others wishing to join the case can contact Leahy via the website

The June 4 hearing date makes it likely that the case would be decided upon before the decision to axe the immigrant investor scheme and dump the backlogged applications is passed into law as a provision in the Conservative government's budget bill.

Leahy's clients are seeking a judicial review of "the decisions of undisclosed persons made on unknown dates not to honour the pledge to assess and finalise within the foreseeable future the applicants' applications for permanent residence".

The review will be argued on the basis of sample cases from each of the diplomatic missions involved, which include Hong Kong, London, New Delhi, Ankara and Pretoria.

Under the axed scheme, applicants worth at least C$1.6 million (HK$11.2 million) received visas for themselves and their immediate family in return for loaning the government C$800,000 interest-free for five years, after which the loan was returned in full.

The controversial programme has been a key means of migration for rich Hongkongers and mainland Chinese over the past 28 years.

Of the 66,434 backlogged visa applications as of July last year, 50,131 had been lodged via Hong Kong. Virtually all are believed to be mainland Chinese.