Canada’s super rich immigration program draws poor response

By @diplomatist10 on
Canada's Employment Minister Jason Kenney (R) With Immigration Minister Chris Alexander
IN PHOTO: Canada's Employment Minister Jason Kenney (R) speaks during a news conference with Immigration Minister Chris Alexander in Ottawa June 20 , 2014. Reuters/Chris Wattie

Canada’s ambitious pilot immigration program for attracting super millionaires have drawn a muted response. In the past six months, since the program started, there were only six applicants, which is nothing compared to the former investor class immigration program. The latter was scrapped in 2014, amid criticism that it allowed wealthy Chinese to buy their way into Canada.

Referring to the poor response to the program, named "Immigrant Investor Venture Capital scheme," an immigration lawyer said “it is poorly designed." Richard Kurland, a Vancouver based immigration lawyer said he received this information when he filed an Access to Information request, seeking the data on the new immigration plan for the rich. The federal government had started accepting applications in January.

In December 2014, Canada announced that it was looking for 50 wealthy foreigners to join the pilot run of the IIIVC to attract applicants far richer than those who have already entered under the previous program. The previous Immigrant Investor Program was scrapped even while a huge backlog of applications were existing at Canada's Hong Kong consulate from mainland Chinese.

Kurland quipped that the revamped program will “wither on the vine and quietly go away” because of the low demand from would-be immigrants. He sees two reasons for it. One is the high price tag and second is the uncertainty about investment.

Program To Stay

Though the initial response is looking poor, an official at the Citizenship and Immigration department said, there is no question of the government reverting to the previous investor class visa. “We believe it is important to continue testing demand, because we know that the IIVC pilot program can deliver significant benefit to Canada," the official said.

The ambitious new program envisages would-be immigrants to invest a minimum of CA$2 million in Canada for a 15-year period. They must also have a net worth minimum of at least C$10 million. Other include their requirement to speak English or French. “Few were prepared to throw good money away, and C$2 million dollars is a lot of money to get a visa. There was no monitoring oversight and control after the investment is made … (and so) this is not a wise financial decision to take. I’m not surprised to see just six takers,” Kurland noted.

Flawed Scheme

The flaws in the new scheme were picked by another expert. According to Hong Kong immigration lawyer Jean-Francois Harvey, the new program is "ridiculous.” The applicants have to undergo strict audits to confirm the source of their wealth besides vetting the language and education benchmarks. He said the failure to attract applications despite postponing the deadline again and again showed it is not competitive in front of the worldwide competition for investor immigrants from China and across the world. Harvey, is the founder of the Harvey Law Group in Montreal.

(For feedback/comments, contact the writer at k.kumar@ibtimes.com.au)