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Wealthy Chinese flock to the West

Posted by Author on July 27, 2010

By Chris Hogg, BBC Shanghai Correspondent, July 27, 2010 –

Growing numbers of rich Chinese are applying for permanent residency in western countries under programmes that allow investors with a high net worth to “buy” citizenship.

The number of Chinese investors granted permanent residency in Canada has doubled in two years.

Ottowa has now halted all applications to its federal immigrant investor programme while it consults on plans to double the funds needed to obtain a visa.

Applicants are still allowed to apply to a scheme run by the province of Quebec, however.

And at seminars run by visa consultancy firms in China, advisors are encouraging people to apply for the scheme before Quebec also doubles its minimum requirements to match the federal government’s proposals.

Cash and experience

On a rainy Saturday afternoon, in a conference room at a five star Shanghai hotel, more than 30 potential “investor applicants” arrive to hear how they might be able to exchange their cash for a foreign passport.

Many are in their 30s. There are several young couples. Most are professionals. Few are dressed smartly. They appear to be a pretty average cross-section of Shanghai’s moneyed middle class.

They are shown a video that the visa company has made to promote Canada, and the country’s visa application service.

“You don’t have to worry about integrating,” the video’s commentary declares. “You don’t even need to speak English.”

Then the advisors go through the detail.

The Quebec scheme requires applicants to show they have a net worth of C$800,000 (US$776,000; £502,000) and they must invest up to C$400,000.

They also need to show they have had two years experience in management.

Different requirements
That’s considerably cheaper, they point out, than the UK, which requires investors to invest £1m ($1.5m) for five years.

There are pros and cons of each of the countries’ schemes.

Canada’s applications currently take about two and a half years, but the financial requirements are the lowest in the world.

The United States requires applicants to invest up to $1million (£646,000) in a business that creates at least 10 new jobs. Applications take up to one and a half years.

The UK’s application process is the quickest. It can be completed in just three months, according to the visa consultants at the seminar, and there is no interview.

But it is also the most costly.

“Usually, the applicants are business owners or senior managers,” explains Vincent Chen, senior consultant for the Visa Consulting Group.

“The average age is 40 to 45, but it’s getting younger.”…… (more details from BBC News)

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