Monday, July 31, 2006

Giving immigrants `the business'

There was a nice article by Nicholas Keung in the Toronto Star yesterday highlighting the climate of business-class immigration in Canada. The article cites two reasons for the 50% drop (since 1993) in entrepreneurial types entering Canada: long wait times and stricter requirements for immigrants wishing to gain a business license in the post 9/11 environment. No real shocker, I guess. But the article gives a sense of magnitude.

Here's an excerpt:
The number of business-class immigrants coming to Canada has dropped by a whopping 50 per cent since 1993, prompting fears of the demise of what was once a bread-and-butter immigration class that pumped billions of dollars into the country's economy.
At the peak of the influx in 1993, a total of 7,217 entrepreneurs and investors — led by people from Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, China, Egypt and Saudi Arabia — landed in Canada, compared with last year's 3,341.
The drop comes as little surprise to immigration lawyers, who say the average time it takes to process applications by immigrants looking to park their assets in Canada has grown to five years. A decade ago, it took as little as eight months. It's now easier to get a sponsorship for Grandma through the red tape — just 37 months on average.
"This particular group of immigrants likes to do business in a business way. They are not going to put their money and business plans on hold for five years to wait for a decision," explains Bay Street immigration lawyer Mendel Green, who has seen his
business-immigrant files shrink 90 per cent over the past decade.
Several of his clients — with a net worth of $55 million — have been waiting to see their files processed for almost four years, a few of them since 2001. Some, tired of
the delay, have abandoned their applications altogether.
"The economies of China, India and Russia are booming and, all of a sudden, we are seeing a new crop of instant millionaires," Green says. "Things are changing around the world so quickly and Canada can't afford to be smug any more."
It's not all bad news. The number of applicants in the wealthier investor category has actually risen significantly, from 1,607 to 2,590, over the past decade. But the
entrepreneurial class — people who come here to set up small businesses and thus
create jobs directly — has taken a huge dive, from 3,208 to a meagre 751 in 2005.
The impact of long processing times is obvious: Business-class applications have declined steadily from 5,378 in 2001 to fewer than 3,000 in 2005. In the first five months of this year, fewer than 900 applications were filed.
The drop means a significant loss of investment. Between 1986 and 1999, immigrant investors brought $2.7 billion into Canada as part of their obligations under the program. Even in the declining years, between 2000 and 2004, immigrant investors dropped $720 million into provincial economies.

No comments: