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Refugees reporting more income than investor-class immigrants

Data draws evidence to lack of social and economic integration by investor immigrants
Richmond pedestrians

Refugee immigrants are reporting higher incomes to the Canada Revenue Agency than investor-class immigrants, according to data compiled by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC). 

Furthermore, the rate of investor immigrants reporting any income whatsoever is far below the Canadian average.

The findings, reported last week by Ian Young of the South China Morning Post, may indicate the expected social and economic benefits of the investor-class program have not shown dividends.

“The data that suggests many investor migrants tend to treat Canada as some kind of holiday resort or educational/retirement bolt hole, while doing business back ‘home’ is quite clear,” wrote Young on his website.

While the investor-class program was scrapped last year, a similar, smaller pilot program, the Immigrant Investor Venture Capital, was announced last December.

In the old program, more than half of all investors chose B.C. as their destination in the late 2000s, with over 5,000 coming into the province annually, according to CIC. 

While there is no available regional data on where exactly the investors landed, Richmond saw 18,685 new immigrants from 2006 to 2011, according to National Household Survey data.

In Richmond, long standing complaints over lack of integration has City Hall presently undertaking a public consultation process on non-English signs throughout the community and their p[erceived threat to "community harmony."

According to CIC, business immigrants have accounted for seven per cent of Canada’s total immigration since 1980 and in 2010 investor-class immigrants — who, as a condition for entrance, were required to prove net worth in the millions and invest $800,000 in Canada — accounted for 88 per cent of all business immigrants. 

According to CIC, investor immigrants reported average earnings of about $18,000 in their first year and just $28,000 after 15 years. After three years, only 47 per cent of such immigrants reported any income. The Canadian average is 67 per cent.

After five years, only 39 per cent reported income, suggesting investor immigrants may leave the country (or declare non-residency) after the citizenship process is complete. 

Meanwhile, refugees (those who come to Canada under hardship) reported first-year average incomes of $20,000 and after 15 years those incomes rose to $30,000. Two-thirds of refugees reported income by their fifth year, on par with Canada’s average.

More troublesome for Young is that similar rates of income after 15 years are found with the spouses and children of the initial, principal applicant.

“It’s particularly worrisome considering that the biggest cohort (40 per cent) of dependents upon arrival is made up of children aged 10 to 19. These (children) would be 25-34 after 15 years, and should be earning good money. But they aren’t.”

As well, Young adds, “the same phenomenon of a decline in tax-reporting rates could be seen in spouses and children, suggesting some of them, too, head for the exits.”

“The issue is not with immigrants or immigration in general, it is with wealth migration schemes in particular. …Should Canada wait for the grandchildren of investor immigrants to join the workforce before seeing the supposed benefits of millionaire migration?” asked Young on his blog.

The newly released CIC data, from 2012, corroborates February 2014 statements made by J. Ian Burchett, Consul General of Canada in Hong Kong:

"Originally developed decades ago, immigrants coming through these out-dated programs are not required to demonstrate important skills, like official language ability (French or English), that are integral to Canada’s modern economic immigration programs. A recent survey concluded that immigrant investors have the lowest official language ability of any immigrant category, including refugees. That hinders their successful integration into Canadian society. Other data on immigrant investors indicate they bring limited benefits to the Canadian economy and are less likely than other immigrants to stay in Canada over the medium to long term," stated Burchett.