Canada revises investor-visa program
Canada’s new program that would give approximately 50 immigrants and their families residency visas by investing at least 1 million Canadian dollars in a venture-capital fund has appeal for many Chinese, despite its stricter assessment and verification, according to observers.
The visa program, which some Western countries have used to attract wealthy Chinese, ultimately aims to raise investment money for Canadian start-ups through a simultaneous injection of millions of dollars into the nation’s economy.
Applicants would be subjected to deeper scrutiny and examination through audit certification of private accountants linked to them. The audit would also involve criminal background checks and a look at the individual’s affairs for political sensitivity.
Despite concern that stricter examination might bother some affluent Chinese, observers still believe a great number of people will apply.
According to a Beijing-based immigration consultant who gave her surname as Liu and requested anonymity, most wealthy Chinese prefer Canada because it is more developed.
“Many choose Canada due to its advanced education system, better air and water quality and ensured food security,” she said.
Canada scrapped a previous immigrant investor plan in February and canceled a backlog of tens of thousands of mainly Chinese applicants. The government said officials determined it provided limited economic benefit to Canada. But ending the program was seen by some as a sign that Canada was becoming less welcoming to Chinese investors.
The new program to acquire a residency visa, despite its higher threshold, is still very attractive to many of China’s affluent, Liu said.
She said her immigration consultancy is not worried that the stricter verification might affect their business, considering those with ambiguous sources of capital are but a fraction of their applicant pool. is required from each investor to make a non-guaranteed investment over 15 years.
The previous program, which had allowed foreigners with a net worth of more than $1.6 million to gain residency, and potentially citizenship, by lending the government $800,000 that would be paid back in about five years without interest, was criticized by many as a flawed, inefficient way to lure wealthy entrepreneurs. Critics said it allowed investors to buy Canadian citizenship while continuing to live abroad, without the individual actually creating jobs or stimulating economic growth in Canada.
“The clients were very concerned after Canada halted the previous program earlier, worried that they would not be able to immigrate to North America,” said Liu. “The new immigrant investor plan, despite its stricter censorship, is still great news to most of the perspective immigrants.”
According to the government, Canada looks to immigrant investors as “a class that can make a positive economic contribution to the country” and attract persons with “business or managerial experience who wish to bring their knowledge and capital to Canadian shores”, in exchange for the unconditional permanent residency to qualified applicants, as well as their immediate family.
The Canadian government’s new way to generate venture capital investment in support of new and emerging Canadian companies is expected to further generate innovation, skilled-job creation and longterm economic growth.
The venture capital-linked pilot program announced Tuesday will start in 2015. It will give permanent residency to approximately 50 millionaire immigrant investors and their families.
Under the program, each investor will be required to make a non-guaranteed investment of $2 million over 15 years and have a net worth of $10 million.
Figures from Citizenship and Immigration Canada show that 21,279 applications for investment immigration were approved in 2013.
In addition to Canada, many other Western governments have been offering residency in exchange for immigrant investment.
“This deal will bring great business opportunities for Chinese and Canadian communities in terms of the trade investment, and facilitate trade benefits for both countries,” said Wesley Mark, partner-deal leader of the China business network at PricewaterhouseCoopers.
“The offshore RMB center will save Canadian companies billions of dollars in transaction costs, as well as offering transparency and confidence for firms that want to do business in China. Definitely, it will increase the trade involvement between the two countries,” said Zhu Mingxuan, president and CEO of Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (Canada).
Among the biggest agreements signed during Harper’s trip to China was a deal for Bombardier to sell more than $1 billion in aircraft to China Express Airlines.
Pierre Seïn Pyun, vicepresident of government affairs at Bombardier, said that China is expected to become the third-largest market for business jets and the second-largest market for commercial aircraft by 2032.
“We are expecting to further expand the collaboration with China and build technology partnership with China,” Pyun said.
During the forum, Chinese and Canadian business executives also shared their experiences on strengthening economic and trade cooperation through collaboration.
“There are still lots of challenges that exist in the business community,” said Yu Benlin, minister counselor for economic and commercial affairs at the Chinese Embassy. “Both countries should understand more about each other. Canada is a great country for business and investment. China is a potential market of 1.3 billion people for Canada. We should build channels to easily visit each other.”
“We hope Canada can build long term economic and trade collaboration with China, not only from the federal government, but also from the local government level,” said Pyun.
“It’s very important for us to take the opportunity to work with the huge market in China, especially for the small- and medium-sized Canadian company. Also, we should build the education connection with China too, the young generation will be a good start,” said Greg Tereposky, a partner at Borden Ladner Gervais LLP.
The forum was jointly hosted by Canada China Chamber of Commerce (CCCC), Consider Canada City Alliance, China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT), Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce (CCC).
In addition to Ambassador Luo, Vice-Chairman of CCPIT Yu Ping, Ontario Senator Victor Oh, and Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and International Trade Michael Chan, also attended the forum.