Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Canada Hypes Millionaire Visa Scheme

Canada has updated its millionaire visa scheme, making it tighter and costlier, that it now needs 50 wealthy immigrants to immediately test the program.

REUTERS/Fatih Saribas
Sami Dia, an evacuee from Lebanon, displays his passport as Canadian passport holders fleeing the conflict in Lebanon arrive at the port of Mersin in Turkey's Mediterranean coastal city July 21, 2006

Interested applicants, who happen to be mostly the wealthy Chinese, will face rigorous scrutiny. They will also undergo an intensive forensic audit by private sector accountants. Moreover, the potential applicants will be required to shell out a non-guaranteed investment equivalent to $2 million over 15 years into a venture-capital fund. They should have a net worth of $10 million. Language ability, skills and proven business or investment experience are also part of the selection criteria.

Chris Alexander, Immigration Minister, said the Immigrant Investor Venture Capital pilot program meant "to attract investors who can make a significant investment and who have the education and proven business or investment experience" necessary to achieve success in Canada. The money they will be pouring, Alexander added, will be invested in "innovative Canadian-based start-ups with high growth potential."

Canada's Immigrant Investor Venture Capital pilot program bears a lot of similarities to the programs launched by other nations to attract wealthy immigrants. In the U.K., an individual can get a visa for as long as s/he has £2 million ($3.1 million) for investment into the country. In Australia, its AU$15 million ($12.3 million).

In February, Canada ended the previous Immigrant Investor Program and the Entrepreneur Program because both didn't pose any contribution to Canada's economic growth. Research indicated that immigrant investors under the previous programs were less likely than other immigrants to stay in Canada over the medium to long term. The Center for China & Globalization, a nonprofit research firm in Beijing said, the previous program was the second-most popular immigration destination for Chinese immigrants, until Canada stopped it earlier this year. The ban affected 45,000 Chinese millionaires. Applications to the new pilot project will start getting accepted in late January 2015.

Jean-Francois Harvey, a prominent Hong Kong immigration lawyer cited by the South China Morning Post, believed the new Immigrant Investor Venture Capital pilot program will hardly entice interested Chinese millionaires because it was so "restrictive as to be totally ridiculous." He said the language criteria could be detrimental. "The requirement of knowing one of the official languages is a not-so-subtle way to say 'no' to 95 percent of the applicants from China," the South China Morning Post quoted Harvey.

The previous scheme brought more than 180,000 wealthy immigrants to Canada since 1986, the paper said. Included in this figure were 30,000 wealthy Hongkong individuals prior to the 1997 handover. Au.ibtimes

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