Business Immigration Class A Big Failure

'Business Immigration Class' a big failure

Dan Murray, Immigration Watch Canada
Special to the Sun

June 21, 2005

Allegations that Conservative MP Gurmant Grewal obtained his Canadian citizenship fraudulently could create more problems for him.

More importantly, they point to an older, much larger problem with Canada's entire Business Immigrant Class, under which Grewal obtained his Canadian citizenship.

The most important question is this: Why does the business class even exist?

The incident raises a number of important points about the business immigrant program:

(1) As one auditor of the program stated several years ago, the program was “riddled with fraud”. Despite hearing many severe criticisms about the business immigrant category from both external and internal observers, the federal government has done little to correct the fraud.

(2) Between 200,000 to 300,000 immigrants have entered Canada through this program. A large number of them have failed to meet their obligations. Few have faced consequences. Word has undoubtedly spread about the laxness of the program. This has undoubtedly contributed to continued abuse of this category.

(3) A spokesman from Citizenship and Immigration has recently stated that his department takes such allegations very seriously. Past experience has shown that immigration ministers have blocked any serious dealing with business immigrant fraud.

According to current Citizenship and Immigration information, the business immigration class has three categories:

(1) Entrepreneur — These people must demonstrate business experience, have a minimum net worth of $300,000 and make an investment. This category began in 1978 and was intended to create employment opportunities “for more than five Canadian citizens or permanent residents.”

Charles Campbell, former vice-chairman of the Immigration Appeal Board, has noted in his book, Betrayal and Deceit, that major failures occurred early in this plan. When entrepreneurs were not able to employ five people, “the requirement became two jobs, and when that didn't work, the requirement was reduced to one job.”

As reporter Campbell Clark of The National Post has pointed out, in one five-year period, “of more than 7,000 persons in this category, 40 per cent of the total failed to open a business during the two-year period when they were obliged to do so, but fewer than 10 were deported.”

(2) Investor — These people must also demonstrate business experience, have a net worth of $800,000 and make an investment of $400,000. This category began in 1986 and was intended to provide seed money to fund Canada's economic growth.

In 1991, the Economic Council of Canada advised the federal government that there was no reason to expect that investor immigrant capital would represent a net addition to the supply of capital available to new businesses. However, immigrant capital might serve a purpose if it were directed into risky areas. In 1997, a federal advisory group noted that most investor immigrant money was risk averse — thus defeating much of the purpose for this program.

(3) Self-employed — These people must have the intention and ability to create their own employment. The qualifications for this category are the most vague and strange. Applicants “are expected to contribute to the cultural or athletic life of Canada” or may purchase and manage a farm.

In 2002, the last year for which Citizenship and Immigration provides figures, Canada had a total of 3,047 immigrants in the three business immigrant categories. These people brought 7,994 dependents with them, a ratio of almost three dependents for every business immigrant, further emphasizing the negative effects of this immigration class. For example, child dependents would be using resources in Canada's education and medical systems, thereby negating any “investment.”

Dan Murray is with Immigration Watch Canada, an organization dedicated to reforming the country's immigration laws.

The Vancouver Sun 2005