New rules double entry fees for investors seeking to live in Canada
Moratorium has been in effect since June
By Norma Greenaway
October 15, 2010
The price of admission to Canada for some future immigrants will double to $800,000 under new federal rules going through final approval hoops.
They also will have to prove a personal net worth of $1.6 million, twice the current amount of $800,000, to be accepted as a permanent resident under the immigrant investor program.
Canadian missions around the world stopped accepting applications under the existing investor criteria in June when the federal government proposed raising the dollar requirements. It has since engaged in a round of consultations over the new rules and is expected to lift the ban on new applications in coming weeks.
“When the gates reopen, it will be the race of the millionaires,” said Richard Kurland, an immigration lawyer.
There is a huge appetite, especially among well-heeled Chinese entrepreneurs, to get permanent residence status in Canada for themselves and their families, Kurland said in an interview. He cited a recent report from Canada's mission in Hong Kong as evidence.
“For the past two years, the investor category has been the single largest source of Chinese immigration applications,” the mission says in an internal report obtained by Kurland under access-to-information legislation.
“[Investor immigrants] appear to be motivated by a desire to find a more secure haven for their savings and also to provide opportunities for their children to be educated in a more developed country.”
The backlog of applications under existing investor requirements stood at 27,865 by the end of 2009, representing a total of 74,135 people including family, the report said.
Kurland said raising the bar for entry makes sense. “Anyone and his brother can come up with $800,000 net worth in Asia simply because of property values,” he said. Such newcomers are a bonus for Canada because they provide crucial economic links between Canada and their home country, he said.
Immigration Minister Jason Kenney has said the planned hike is justified because the dollar requirements haven't been changed since 1999. “As a result, the program draws a larger number of applicants than can be admitted every year under the immigration plan, and processing times are increasing,” he said.
Quebec, which operates its own immigration system, continued accepting applications until this week under the old requirements of $400,000 in cash and a proven net worth of $800,000. By shutting down applications, it has paved the way to harmonize its requirements with the federal rules.
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