Chinese investors sue federal government after visa program scrapped
Lynda Steele and Sandra Hermiston, CTV Vancouver
Published Wednesday, June 11, 2014 6:00AM PDT
Last Updated Wednesday, June 11, 2014 8:28PM PDT
Thousands of Chinese millionaires poised to move to Vancouver have had their relocation plans scuttled by the Harper government. They were planning to immigrate to B.C. under the so-called millionaire visa program. When the program was scrapped, those plans were halted, but hundreds of Chinese are not giving up. They're now suing the federal government to get their spot back in the queue.
The investor immigration program offered Canadian residency to millionaires willing to make an $800,000 investment, often in the form of a loan to the government. Nearly all of those immigrants ended up living in Metro Vancouver.
From 2005 to 2012, 37,000 visas were issued to immigrants moving to B.C. It’s a move some say helped push Vancouver housing prices into the stratosphere.
"I don't think you can bring tens of thousands of millionaires into a relatively small market like Vancouver and expect that it's not going to have an effect in some way pushing up prices," said Ian Young, correspondent for the South China Morning Post.
The investor program dubbed "the millionaire visa” proved so popular it had a backlog of 60,000 would-be migrants willing to buy their way into Canada. So the federal government decided to scrap it at the end of this month, saying it was open to fraud.
Many applicants were furious and 1,300 would-be migrants from Hong Kong and China, have now launched a lawsuit against Ottawa, trying to pressure the government into allowing their applications to go ahead.
Some had already bought homes in Vancouver, while others had registered their children in Canadian schools.
"Of those, 40,000 people who were destined or hoping to move to Vancouver, how many of those people have bought already in Vancouver and when their visas are cancelled, how many of them are going to sell up? That's an unknown question," said Young.
So what will that mean to our real estate market? And will those migrants find a new way to Vancouver?
The Quebec government also has a millionaire visa program with pretty much the same terms. But Young says in Quebec's case, it takes the $800,000 investment money and the vast majority of those immigrants from China then move to B.C.