News Local

Scrapped immigrant investor program leaves void

Jeremy Nuttall

By Jeremy Nuttall, 24 hours Vancouver



The federal government axed the immigrant investor program Monday, leaving those who work with wealthy new arrivals anxiously waiting to learn how it will be replaced and its impact on Metro Vancouver’s economy.

The decision scraps nearly 50,000 applications from would-be immigrants, who must now have their application fees returned — and immigration lawyers, real estate agents and businesses are wondering what’s next.

Through the cancelled program, immigrants worth at least $1.6 million were able to come to Canada by supplying the government with an $800,000 interest-free loan for five years.

Prof. Andrey Pavlov from Simon Fraser University’s Beedie School of Business agreed with the decision.

“You just make a loan to the government, which is a bad idea to begin with because then you don’t have the money to invest,” Pavlov said, suggesting a different model. “If there is a fee to be paid to the government, that fee can be large ... other than that you invest the money in a business that employs people.”

Vancouver immigration lawyer Tim Bailey said the loss of the program means immigrants can no longer store money in offshore accounts for five years — out of reach by Canada Revenue Agency.

Bailey said that means funds in trust will be taxable as of next year. He added lawyers who work in immigration could feel the pinch.

“There are a number of legal practitioners who have been seriously impacted by this decision, ironically in much the way that refugee lawyers were when (Multiculturalism Minister Jason) Kenney took a chainsaw to the refugee system,” Bailey said. “They are going to have to expand their practice, adapt, or disappear.”

Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s statistics show use of the program declined to 1,800 applicants approved to come to B.C. last year — down from its peak of 3,300 in 2008.

But there was a backlog as B.C. applications to the program had increased, seeing a severe spike in 2010 when 27,500 people applied.

CIC said the details of the new program will be released within months.




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