Canada re­vises in­vestor-visa pro­gram

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By ZHENG XIN in Beijing zhengxin@chi­

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.

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