The Canadian province of British Columbia should set up its own Quebec-style version of the investor migrant scheme to receive the full benefit of the thousands of Chinese millionaires who settle in Vancouver each year, a prominent immigration lawyer has suggested.
Richard Kurland, a long-time Vancouver-based advocate for immigration reforms and transparency, said the fact that many of Quebec's investor migrants ultimately end up living in British Columbia meant that the latter was losing out on access to billions of dollars.
Under both the federal and Quebec versions of the scheme, investor migrants must hand over C$800,000 (HK$5.8 million) cash in the form of a no-interest five-year loan to the government. Under the federal scheme, the funds are split between Ottawa and the destination province, but under the Quebec version, the entire loan is made out to Quebec.
The Quebec scheme requires the funds to be transferred as soon as the province approves an application and passes it on to Ottawa for visa issuing. But these applications then go into a large federal backlog, meaning that Quebec could enjoy access to the migrants' funds well before visas are granted. The current size of the backlog meant that in some cases this could be the entire five-year term of the loan, Kurland said.
In a December newsletter, Kurland said that the creation of a British Columbia immigrant investor programme "would go a long way to restoring integrity to the system".
"Given the terms and conditions of the immigrant investor programme, British Columbia taxpayers would receive a C$6 billion cash float ... interest free," Kurland said.
"Most immigrant investors ultimately locate in British Columbia; and there are no constitutional and no legal reasons preventing British Columbia from having a British Columbia immigrant investor programme," he said.