After unproven allegations that Chinese investors were abusing Canada’s visa program to secure overseas residency, the Ottawa government canceled the Immigrant Investor Program. According to a news report in Forbes, the program was cancelled because anti-immigration Canadians viewed it as an unfair visa expressway for wealthy Chinese residents wishing to live in North America. The program allowed foreign nationals to gain Canadian residency by loaning 800,000 Canadian dollars to any province for five years, which is about 726,720 U.S. dollars.
This program was open to all foreign investors, but the majority of applicants were from China. According to Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post, more than 45,000 of the 59,000 pending applications were from China. The program was already frozen as officials were trying to clear the existing backlog.
One of the reasons why the program was so popular is that it only required loans. Most developed countries have similar programs that require investments and not just loans. For example, the U.S. investor visa requires a $1,000,000 investment or at least a $500,000 investment in a qualifying area under the EB-5 visa program. Despite this, most investments in the United States are paid back after 5 years.
It is unclear whether Canada will ever provide such an investors program again, but under the current political climate there it is unlikely. In the meantime, many foreign nationals are already racing toward the EB-5 program in the United States. The EB-5 program has grown in popularity in recent years and it is especially popular among Chinese investors. According to a recent CNN news report, Chinese nationals account for more than 80 percent of visas issued compared to just 13 percent a decade ago. In 2013, 6,900 visas for Chinese nationals were granted visas compared to just 16 in 2004.
The Eb-5 Immigrant Investor Program was specifically designed to stimulate the U.S. economy through job creation and capital investment. Therefore, in addition to investing a substantial amount of money in businesses here in the United States, EB-5 applicants from China and abroad must also create or preserve at least 10 full-time jobs for U.S. workers. These positions can be direct or indirect. A direct job is an actual identifiable job that resulted from the investment. An indirect job is one that is created collaterally or as a result of the capital invested.
Now that Canada has halted their investment program and the United States EB-5 Visas are almost at their limit, it could become more challenging for foreign investors to live here in the United States. Anyone interested in securing residency through investment would be well advised to discuss his or her rights and options with a skilled Los Angeles immigration attorney.