The new millionaire visa program, to be started by Canada as a replacement to its investment immigration program (IIP) that was discontinued in June this year, will only accept about 50 applications each year, according to immigration experts.
This news will come as a big blow to the tens of thousands of Chinese people whose applications were cancelled in June and who were waiting for the launch of the new program to get residency in Canada through investments.
The IIP required applicants to invest at least C$ 800,000 as an interest free loan to Canada in order to qualify for permanent residency. The program had become increasingly popular among citizens of Hong Kong and China, thousands of who migrated to Canada in the past 28 years. However, a recent deluge of applications led Canada to discontinue the program in June. At the time, about 60,000 applications were pending and had to be cancelled.
Critics point out that the new millionaire visa scheme is completely insignificant as it does not even begin to meet the high demand from Chinese investors. “What I was told was that this was a pilot project for 50 spots. The only reason they are rolling it out at all is because it was mentioned in the budget that they would, so they had to go ahead with it,” said a source from immigration industry.
Another report mentioned that the new investment requirement would be between C$1 million and C$2 million, with a cap at C$120 million, thus implying a total number of 60-120 permissible applications. But even so, the numbers are far smaller than the previous IIP.
Apparently, Citizenship and Immigration Canada has notified immigration firms that under the new venture capital investment program, applicants will be required to invest C$2 million in order to get permanent residency in the country. In addition, the investors will not have a say in where the money is invested, as it will be fully managed by the government. This decision was taken to prevent any kind of investment fraud.
Officially however, there has been no word from Citizenship and Immigration Canada, who released a statement saying that further details will be disclosed “in due course”. The statement also added that the IIP had been halted to “pave the way for new pilot programs that will actually meet Canada’s labor market and economic needs”.
Analysts say that potential investors will be sorely disappointed by this scheme, and will consider going to other countries. However, Vancouver immigration lawyer Richard Kurland feels that certain investors still stood a fair chance. “The reality is, if you have English-language skills and you are a successful business person with a lot of capital, you can likely find your way into Canada, with some sound professional advice,” says Kurland.
Canada’s IIP program had been operational since 1986, with over 180,000 people using it to immigrate to the country, including 30,000 arriving from Hong Kong alone. The scheme attracted a lot of criticism recently and was blamed for letting wealthy nationals buy their way into Canada. It was also believed that it had led to property prices in Canada rising sharply.
The number of recent applications rocketed up to an unmanageable level, resulting in the program having to be scrapped entirely in June. According to available statistics, there were 12,675 applications under IIP in 2010, with about 78% of these applications being filed in Hong Kong. Between 2005 and 2012, about 36,973 investor immigrants arrived in British Columbia, almost 70% of whom were Chinese.
There is a glimmer of hope for would-be investor immigrants looking to come to Canada however – the province of Quebec still runs a version of IIP, and will accept up to 1,750 applications in 2015.