The Canadian Government terminated an immigration program that granted visas to wealthy investors because it claimed that the program “devalued” the right to live in the Great White North.
Under the Immigrant Investor Program, the Government would grant permanent residency to immigrants who loaned Ottawa 800,000 Canadian dollars (US$728,531), on an interest-free basis for five years.
Immigrants needed to pay five million Australian dollars (US$4.5 million) in local businesses, $1 million for creating at least 10 new jobs and one million pounds (US$1.7 million) for immigrating to Australia, the U.S. and Britain respectively.
Thus, Canada’s visa scheme was exceedingly popular, especially as immigrants only needed to loan a lesser amount to Ottawa for a 5-year period. In fact, its popularity remained undiminished even after 2010, when the Government doubled the required investment amount.
As of 2012, Ottawa had about 65,000 pending applications, with almost 70 percent coming from China. In 2012, Ottawa only managed to approve 2,615 applications before freezing the program to avoid accumulating a larger backlog.
While the amount stipulated by the visa scheme was considerably lower than the amount demanded by other countries, some Canadians also feel that foreign immigrants contribute little beyond the required C$800,000, while they reap the benefits of becoming “Canadians of convenience”. They feel that many immigrants obtain Canadian citizenship as an insurance in the event that their homelands become unlivable.
In the 1980s and 1990s, people worried about the imminent handing over of Hong Kong to China in 1997, obtained citizenship in Canada. Once conditions stabilised, some of these people preferred to return to Hong Kong. Others stayed behind in Canada, opened businesses, contributed to the welfare of the country and embraced Canadian values.
While the Government is preparing to design a new program i.e. the pilot Immigrant Investor Venture Capital Fund that requires prospective immigrants to invest significantly in the Canadian economy, thus far, it seems as if Canada will be the biggest loser in the bargain. Wealthy Chinese immigrants, among whom this visa program was very popular, would now prefer to take their skills, initiative and resources to another country.
Source: The Wall Street Journal