As Canada ends it’s Citizenship by Investment Program Chinese immigrants looking to St. Kitts

The Canada Immigrant Investor Program, (IIP), was aimed to have experienced business people contribute to Canada’s growth and long-term prosperity by investing in the country’s economy.

This too was the vision of the CIP when it was introduced by the former PAM/NRP Administration of Prime Minister Dr. Kennedy Simmonds, in 1984.

For Canada however, investors were required to show that they have business experience, have a net worth of at least C$1,600,000 that was gained legally, and must invest C$800,000.

However on 11th February, 2014, The Canadian Government announced in its Economic Action Plan 2014, that it intends to terminate both the federal Immigrant Investor and Federal Entrepreneur Programs, eliminate a large and longstanding backlog of applications, and pave the way for new pilot programs that will actually meet Canada’s labour market and economic needs.

With the closure of this opportunity for a new life in the Western Hemisphere by many rich and affluent Chinese, an effort is being made to entice them to Caribbean nations, like St. Kitts and Nevis, as participants in the CIP.

St. Kitts and Nevis, and now Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, and others have suddenly become popular alternative immigration options for many wealthy business owners in China. They appear to be attracted by the prospects of owning a passport that provides visa free access to just about all European countries and Canada.

Already, there are reports in the Chinese and other media that rich entrepreneurs like Zhang Lan, the chairwoman of high-end restaurant chain South Beauty, and Feng Changge, the founder of Harmony Auto, are reported to have migrated to St. Kitts and Nevis, or at least obtained citizenship rights. Details however are sketchy on what type of investments they have made in St. Kitts.

A newly released report conducted by the Hurun Research Institute said that 64 percent of Chinese millionaires have already migrated with their wealth or are preparing to do so.

On 22nd January, 2014, the Center for China and Globalization and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences jointly released a bluebook on the status of Chinese people migrating overseas. The bluebook showed Canada as the top destination for Chinese migrant investors.

An agent surnamed Zhou from St Kitts and Nevis Investment Services said that since the investment immigration service closed in Canada, many clients have set their sights on moving to smaller islands.

The service was created by the Greenfield Group Asia Inc., and according to its official website, it is “one of the many services in China that offer investment and immigration consultation to the federal two-island country in the West Indies.” There are two ways of obtaining nationality there: donating $250,000 per person to local foundations, or by investing at least $400,000 in real estate per family, Zhou said, a relatively low threshold compared to other countries.

“This country has no demands on applicants, including the source of investment. Besides, it only takes a short time before you can become a citizen and get a passport,” she said.

“In the middle of 2012, St Kitts received fewer than 20 Chinese immigrants.  That number has now more than doubled, and many clients of listed companies say they were forced to migrate to the island,” a Hong-Kong-based agent surnamed Feng told the Legal Weekly.

There are many such clients, Feng said. Those people never live for a long period on the island, and they don’t care about seeing the place. They just need an immigrant’s status.

Even though the Chinese clients have acquired the nationality, it doesn’t mean they are true immigrants, and they don’t have election rights, Legal Weekly reports.

Zhou said if the clients don’t live on the island, they won’t enjoy the benefits. However, the local benefits aren’t as attractive as the ones offered by Canada or the US, so the people who choose to migrate there usually don’t care for such benefits.

She confirmed that Zhang Lan has indeed migrated to St Kitts, but through an agency service based in Taiwan.

Unlike the St. Kitts and Nevis model, the investments made in Canada are by law divided by the Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), between participating provinces and territories and are used for projects to develop their economies and create jobs for five years.

The CIP in St. Kitts however has been criticized for only delivering benefits to citizens on that island, while those on the sister island of Nevis, have claimed they are left out, and are only given loans.

 

 

 

 

 

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