Like thousands of other wealthy Chinese, Lili Feng and her husband applied for a Canadian permanent residency via the immigration investor scheme, believing that Canada would offer a better future to themselves and their three daughters.
But after four years of waiting, Ms. Feng’s dreams were all but dashed in February when the Canadian government announced it was halting its immigrant investor program and cancelling tens of thousands of outstanding applications.
In an attempt to persuade Canada to reverse its decision, Ms. Feng has joined more than 1,500 mostly Chinese plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the Canadian immigration authorities, claiming damages of $5 million Canadian per applicant and their dependents in compensation, on the grounds that their applications were not processed within the promised time frame.
The cancellation of the program was announced in February after a series of reports were published in the South China Morning Post revealing that the program had been overwhelmed with applications by rich investors from China.
According to the newspaper, the Canadian government had stopped accepting new applications in July 2012 due to the enormous backlog of applications – 66,423 as of last July, of which 50,131 had been filed by Chinese applicants.
The cancellation of the program and outstanding visa applications will not take effect until the budget is passed on June 26.
“For decades, it has significantly undervalued Canadian permanent residence,” the proposed budget says of the investor program, with “little evidence that immigrant investors…are making a positive economic contribution to the country”. Immigrant investors tend to under-report employment and income and therefore pay lower taxes than other economic migrants, it adds.
Before its cancellation, Canada’s immigrant investor program was widely considered to be one of the easiest routes to gain permanent residency abroad – investors seeking to immigrate to Canada were required only to make a five-year, interest-free loan to the government of $400,000 or $800,000, depending on the time of application, as well as show a net worth of $1.6 million Canadian.
China is among the three countries with the highest number of millionaire households, of whom the proportion looking to settle abroad is 64 percent. The main reasons cited by wealthy Chinese for emigrating are concerns about quality of education, environmental pollution and food safety.
The Canadian government has said it will announce new plans for a “more focused and effective” pilot program for immigrant investors in the coming months.
“Canada has a proud tradition of welcoming immigrants from all over the world, including China,” Bill Brown, a spokesman for the immigration department, said. China has been among the top source countries for Canadian immigration and it would “continue to rank as such.”
At the time the program was cancelled, the investors represented in the lawsuit were in various stages of the application review process.
For Ms. Feng, who applied with her family in 2010, moving to Canada had been a longstanding dream. In anticipation of the move, Ms. Feng placed her oldest two daughters in an international school in Shenzhen and began making preparations to transfer the management of the company which she runs with her husband. The entire application process, they were told, would take no more than two to three years.
But four years on, the Fengs have been left bitterly disappointed by the turn of events.
Source : Sinosphere Blogs