Chinese Immigration and Vancouver Real Estate

The topic of the relationship between wealthy, primarily Chinese, immigrants and their effect on Vancouver’s housing market has recently become a bit of a hot topic in the city.  I was recently quoted in Vancouver Magazine on the topic, and specifically on the relationship between the Canada and Quebec immigrant investor programs and immigration to Vancouver.

The answers to such questions lie largely in the numbers, though not necessarily the obvious ones. Anyone in real estate will tell you the wealthy arrivals dominating the market are mostly from mainland China, yet immigration from there has been dropping in recent years. In 2009, just under 9,000 mainland Chinese arrived in Vancouver, down from almost 13,000 in 2005. But, says Steven Meurrens, an immigration lawyer with Larlee Rosenberg, official numbers don’t necessarily reflect reality. About half the Chinese immigrants arriving in Vancouver are in the investor class and thus must prove a net worth of at least $1.6 million (doubled since new rules were instituted in late 2010).

That number might mean only 1,200 or 1,500 households-not terribly significant in a region where sales exceeded 40,000 in 2010-but Meurrens says the number of investor immigrants from mainland China landing in B.C. is actually considerably higher than what those reports suggest. In the 12 months ending September 30, Quebec (which has its own immigration system) turned away virtually no one, issuing almost 6,000 investor-class visas of its own. There are no restrictions on where visa recipients settle, and a significant number choose Vancouver over Montreal. “The money goes to Quebec,” says Meurrens, but “our office regularly advises people who immigrated under the Quebec Investor program and have a wife and child living in B.C.”

Indeed, according to a report in the National Post on May 17, 2011, Chinese buyers have caused Vancouver’s average housing prices to eclipse London and New York.

In 2010, Vancouver had the third-highest housing costs among English-speaking cities worldwide, according to Canada’s Frontier Centre for Public Policy. Only Hong Kong and Sydney, another magnet of Asian immigration, were more expensive. Vancouver’s median home price of $602,000 was 9.5 times the annual median household income of $63,100, the group said in a study released Jan. 24. Canada had a 4.6 national multiple, making it “seriously unaffordable,” while the U.S. at 3.3 was “moderately unaffordable,” the study showed. To be affordable, the multiple must be 3 or less.

Vancouver was more expensive than San Francisco, London and New York by that measure, the Winnipeg-based centre said.



Student Partnership Program Expands to China : 中加學生合作計劃

The Canadian embassy in Beijing has expanded the Student Partnership Program originally launched in India to China.

The program creates a special processing channel at the Beijing visa office for students destined to member institutions of the Association of Canadian Community Colleges, whose membership includes Camosun College, Douglas College, Kwantlen Polytechnic University, and Vancouver Community College.  Students using the program will experience a far shorter wait time than normal applicants, in some cases less than two weeks.

The application form can be viewed here: http://www.canadainternational.gc.ca/china-chine/assets/pdfs/immigration/beijing/documents/SPP_Application_Kit_2010_07_EN.pdf

This story broke in today’s Ming Pao, both as a front page story, and as a small story with my comments here:

在技術移民難度顯著增加的情況下,加國駐中國大使館新推出的中加學生合作計劃,有望成為中國一般社會人士移民加拿大的新途徑。

移 民律師辛湉王(Steven Meurrens)指出,先到本地學院習得一技之長,又有實習經驗的留學生勢必更受加國移民部歡迎,只要符合規定,無論通過聯邦經驗類(CEC),還是省 提名類別(PNP)移民均更易成功,因為加國非常需要這些能夠通過技術服務社會、能有效融入本地的青壯年,他認為SPP有望成為一個新的移民增長點。

留 學顧問丁方方表示,通過留學移民的途徑日漸熱門,許多私立學校亦以此招攬生源,但實際上這些學校良莠不齊,其課程更可能完全不符合移民政策的要求,因此 SPP計劃中的公立學院是好得多的選擇,它們提供多種多樣的文憑或證書課程,比大學更注重職業性和實際操作,兼有帶薪實習課程(Co-op),有利於就 業。她認為,這對於有意移民的普通人,SPP計劃可能是個比技術移民或投資移民更可行的選擇。

Continue reading “Student Partnership Program Expands to China : 中加學生合作計劃”


Chinese People in Latin America – Discrimination?

Photo by David Berkowitz

On May 27, 2010, the Federal Court issued its decision in Jiang v. Canada (Citizenship and Immigration), 2010 FC 580. (“Jiang“). Jiang involved an application for permanent residence in Canada on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.  There were numerous aspects to the claim.  The one that I wish to focus on was the applicant’s claim that she faced discriminated in Peru because she was Chinese.

The judgment states:

[5]                B and H owned and operated a restaurant in Peru.  They stated that they were subjected to extortion and harassment.  They also alleged that when they complained to the police, they were told to go back to China.  As a result, the Applicants… closed down their business in 2004, and accompanied their eldest daughter .. to Canada where she had obtained a student visa.  Their son remained in Peru, while their youngest daughter came with them to Canada.

[7]               Moreover, the Board found that the documentary evidence failed to show that Chinese nationals living in Peru faced persecution, torture or cruel or unusual treatment or punishment because of their race.  It was the Board’s conclusion that the Applicants’ allegations of repeated victimization was, on a balance of probability, a product of their status as business owners, and as such, could be remedied by a change in occupation.

[8]               The Board also found that there was no persuasive evidence that the principal Applicant’s daughter, Xie Moy Ly Jiang, who is a citizen of Peru, faced a well-founded fear of persecution in Peru, or that she was a person in need of protection.  It was the tribunal’s conclusion that the Applicants’ allegation, that she would be targeted in the future by criminals because of her race, was speculative and not grounded in facts or in any of the documentary evidence.

[37]           The Applicants also alleged that the officer selectively used the documentary evidence, by taking information out of context and by ignoring contradictory evidence.  The Applicants explained that the officer cited out of context the 2008 U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices, Peru, dated February 25, 2009 (the “Report”) by stating that “there were no reports of societal abuses, or discrimination”.  It is true that this exact same wording exists in the Report in the section dealing with freedom of religion and anti-Semitic acts.  However, there is no indication that the officer quoted this passage verbatim from the Report.  Despite a general statement that although the law prohibits discrimination, discrimination persisted, found under the heading “Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons”, the Report notes that the only incidents of discrimination against national, racial or ethnic minorities pertain to Afro-Peruvians and indigenous people.  There is no report of discrimination or societal abuses against people of Chinese ethnicity or of Asian descent. In this light, I do not believe the officer selectively used the Report.

If you’ve been to Latin America, or if you know any Asians living in Latin America, I am curious to hear your anecdotal stories.  How are overseas Chinese treated in Latin America?


Where do Immigrant Investor Funds Go In BC?

One of the questions that I am most frequently asked is “where does British Columbia’s money from the Immigrant Investor Program go?”  Indeed, at least two people today e-mailed me this question after they read an article in the China Daily about how $1.6-billion left China due to emigration under various investor scheme.

The answer can be found on the the B.C. Immigrant Investment Fund Ltd.’s (the “BC IIF”) website.  The BCIIF receives and manages British Columbia’s portion of funds under the Immigrant Investor Program.  Their 2011-2014 Service Plan can be found here.

According to the website and the 2011-2014 Service Plan, some of the money from the Immigrant Investor Program has been spent on the following projects:

  • Loaning $60-million to aid in the construction of the BCIT aerospace facility near the Vancouver International Airport;
  • Loaning $5-million to help facilitate the purchase of the University of Victoria Technology Enterprise Facility, which accommodates the Centre for Addictions Research B.C., the NEPTUNE Canada Research Project, and the Venus Research Project.
  • Loaning $13.9-million for the construction of a student residence at the University of the Fraser Valley.
  • Loaning $3.3-million for the construction of two residences at the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology.
  • Loaning $5.1-million for two condominium units at Simon Fraser University Foundation.
  • Loaning the Province of British Columbia $39-million for the Gateway Prince George Complex Care Project of the Northern Health Authority.
  • Loaning the Province of British Columbia $29-million for the replacement of the J. Lloyd Crowe Secondary School.
  • Loaning the Province of British Columbia $32-million for the renovation and replacement of Penticton Secondary School.
  • Loaning the Province of British Columbia $24-million for the replacement of the Burnaby Secondary school.
  • Loaning the Province of British Columbia $15-million for the renovation and replacement of Revelstoke Secondary School and the new Primary School.
  • Loaning the Province of British Columbia $13-million for the replacement of University Hill Secondary School.
  • Loaning the Province of British Columbia $12-million for the seismic upgrade of the Cariboo Hill Secondary School.
  • Loaning the Province of British Columbia $11-million for the seismic upgrade of the Ecole Jules Quesnel Elementary School.
  • Investing $66-million dollars total in the following 13 companies:
    • Angstrom Power Inc.
    • Boreal Genomics
    • Cooledge Lighting Inc.
    • Delta-Q Technologies
    • Endurance Wind Power
    • E-One Moli Energy
    • Indicee Inc.
    • LaCima Inc.
    • Light-Based Technologies
    • Mingleverse Laboratories Inc.
    • Partnerpedia Solutions Inc.
    • NGRAIN (Canada) Corporation
    • Ostara Nutrient Recovery Technologies Inc.

It should be noted that the interest collected on the above loans is extremely low.

The above list should dispel the occasionally held notion that the Immigrant Investor Program has done nothing for British Columbia.  However, whether it has contributed more or less than most people assume, or whether the above-list will satisfy people that the benefits of the program outweigh the negatives that some people associate the program with, I do not know.