Canada's new millionaire migration scheme has been extended after failing to attract enough rich mainland Chinese to the country. The Immigrant Investor Venture Capital (IIVC) pilot, which grants residency to immigrants worth at least C$10 million provided they invest C$2 million into the IIVC fund for 15 years, was originally due to run for two weeks but will now take applications until April 15.
The extension of the scheme from a two week window to a total of eleven weeks suggests it has fallen well short of the cap of 500 applications, and industry experts believe this is due in large part to the scheme's strict requirements - applicants must speak English or French, have a Canadian tertiary qualification or equivalent, and submit to a financial audit.
The lack of interest in the IIVC is in marked contrast to the scheme is replaced, the Immigrant Investor Program (IIP), which was finally terminated in 2014 after becoming the most popular wealth migration scheme in the world. When suspended in July 2012, there were 25,000 applicants waiting for their applications to be dealt with.
IIP's huge popularity and complaints that it 'undervalued the importance of Canadian citizenship and failed to ensure that new investors were active in the Canadian economy' have caused the entry bar to be raised, but it is the non-financial elements that seem to be the biggest deterrents to Chinese millionaires.
However, in a statement on its website, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) said that it was the short timeframe, rather than the requirements themselves, that had caused the pilot to be undersubscribed.
"The pilot program has been criticised in some quarters due in part to the initial limited period during which applications would be accepted. Given that candidates are required to submit language test results and post-secondary education credentials as part of their application, the limited window of opportunity effectively made it extremely difficult for them to submit their candidacy in time. The extended window of opportunity provides additional time for them to do so," said CIC.
Once the application window shuts on April 15, or when 500 applications are received, a maximum of 60 randomly drawn applicants and their families will be allowed to immigrate.
Reports from immigration lawyers dealing with potential Chinese migrants suggest the extension will not have much effect.
"From what I have seen from the market reaction, I do not think that the extra time will make a big difference. Once the client learns about the criteria and conditions, the conversation switches quickly to other destinations that are available. I stated before that CIC will get their  cases, well, I may have to review this statement by April 15," commented Jean-Francois Harvey, a lawyer with the Harvey Law Group of Montreal who deals with Hong Kong immigration.
With the more stringent requirements for immigration, short application window, and a perceived lack of communication regarding the scheme from the Canadian authorities, many question Canada's appetite for more Chinese immigrants.
"CIC is either vastly over-estimating demand, for what is a very expensive programme, or is genuinely disinterested in filling their quota," said Vancouver immigration lawyer Ryan Rosenberg.
Domestically, the Canadian government has faced discontent over its immigration policy, with extensive Chinese immigration blamed for driving up property prices in Vancouver.
What is not in question is the continuing demand from wealthy Chinese to immigrate to leading Western nations. Although Canada has scaled back its program significantly, countries such as the US, Australia and the UK are welcoming record numbers of Chinese nationals with open arms.
There is a quota of 10,000 in the US, which has never been filled before. In 2014 it was fully subscribed. The rush of wealthy Chinese emigrating, and those rushing to provide them with the services they need, continues.
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