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Immigrant investor applicants feel betrayed by Canadian government

Jeremy Nuttall

By Jeremy Nuttall, 24 hours Vancouver

Cancellation of program means years of waiting have been wasted, say applicants who think current applications should still be processed. (FOTOLIA)

Cancellation of program means years of waiting have been wasted, say applicants who think current applications should still be processed. (FOTOLIA)

Having to rent a secret apartment when his wife became pregnant with their second child convinced one would-be investor immigrant he had to leave China.

Now the man — who wants to be identified by his last name Zhuang for fear of retribution from the Chinese government — said he’s out of luck since Canada cancelled its investor immigrant program.

Zhuang feared his wife would be forced to have an abortion or face hefty fines for having an “extra baby” contrary to Beijing’s one-child policy and she lived in the second apartment so her pregnancy wouldn't be discovered.

“I thought since China won’t welcome our child, why don't we look for a country that welcomes him,” wrote Zhuang in an email. “So we applied to Canada's IIP program. But after years of waiting, we heard that Canada will not be welcoming him either.”

Zhuang said he speaks English well enough and applied to the investor immigrant program intending to open a lighting products business similar to how he earned his money in China.

“This policy change to me, means our years of waiting are meaningless,” Zhuang said. “I think the Canadian government should have had better and fairer policies than this.”

Zhuang is part of a growing chorus of users and wannabe users of the program calling out the government for scrapping the program, which allowed those with a net worth of $1.6 million to immigrate to Canada in exchange for loaning the government $800,000 interest free for five years.

Ottawa said the program had no net benefit to Canada and alleged its users weren't integrating into society or often didn't even stay in the country.

It also cancelled a similar program for entrepreneurs.

Another applicant in Toronto said as far as he’s concerned, the government has broken contracts by ending the programs and returning application fees.

Jack Mao, also from China, is currently in Canada on a visitor visa and applied to the program in 2009. He said he did everything lawfully, put his life on hold and faith in the government, and feels he’s suffering due to the behaviour of others.

“All the applications are done based on the requirements of the Canadian government so all these applications are legal,” Mao said. “If this program didn't meet the goals of the government, it means the government didn't design a good program. It is not fair for the applicants to take responsibility for the government’s mistakes.”

He said the government has victimized thousands of would-be immigrants for its own public relations purposes and said those who applied before the program was scrapped should still be processed.

Federal New Democrat and critic for immigration Don Davies will be holding a press conference in Vancouver Thursday to discuss the programs' cancellations and related concerns.

The federal government said Immigration Minister Chris Alexander held two consultation events in metro Vancouver to discuss concerns about the program’s cancellation.




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