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Canadian Immigrant Investor Changes Affecting China May See Increased Investment in the U.S.

Canada has recently terminated two investor immigrant programs, an act that has Chinese agencies saying the policy change is unfair. The Canadian policy is a signal to wealthy applicants that they must improve their social integration in and increase financial contributions to destination countries. “All of Canada’s immigration programs are open to anyone who meets the criteria, and do not target specific countries,” the Canadian embassy in China told China Daily.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada said in a written interview that China “has been among the top sources for more than a decade”, and immigration is a key part of Canada’s plan to “grow our economy, spur job creation, and ensure long-term prosperity for all Canadians”.

The Immigrant Investor Program requires investors to have a minimum net worth of 1.6 million Canadian dollars ($1.5 million) and to invest 800,000 Canadian dollars in the form of a multi-year, interest-free loan to the government. Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration Services have stated that: “Research shows that immigrant investors pay less in taxes than other economic immigrants, are less likely to stay in Canada over the medium- to long-term and often lack the skills, including official language proficiency, to integrate as well as other immigrants from the same countries.”

China is the largest source of migrants in the world, and analysts say that the Chinese may alter their destinations given Canada’s policy changes. Sun Zhe, director of the Center for US-China Relations at Tsinghua University, said: “Canada’s policy updates will hardly deter Chinese investor immigrants as a whole.” It will be no surprise if other North American and European countries continue to have greater appeal to Chinese, where some may look to destinations including New Zealand and Singapore for lower tax rates, Sun said. Wang Huiyao, director of the Center for China and Globalization, said some European countries may take the chance to offer lower thresholds to “attract wealthy Chinese who have impending needs for children’s education abroad or business expansion.” The United States may also see an influx of investors into its programs given its own availability and the proximity to Canada to pursue other avenues into that country as well. It remains to be seen how the change in Canada’s investor program will impact the U.S. but one can be certain that at least some will look to investing in the U.S. instead, thanks to this change.