Canada's Citizenship and Immigration Minister, Chris Alexander speaks after unveiling changes to Canada's Citizenship Act in Toronto on Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014. Frank Gunn/Canadian Press
Even though the Conservative government froze and then cancelled the Immigrant Investor Program, Immigration Minister Chris Alexander is still wooing Chinese millionaires.
Alexander used an interview with the South China Morning Post (SCMP) in Hong Kong earlier this week to invite wealthy Chinese to find new ways to enter Canada in the wake of the cancellation.
"What we are saying to them is that all of our other immigration programs are available to you. Find the one that fits best for your situation," the English-language newspaper quoted him as saying.
The controversial IIP offered visas to business people with a net worth of at least $1.6 million who were willing to lend $800,000 to the Canadian government — for investment across Canada — for a term of five years.
Alexander said there was a backlog of eight or nine years in applications, about 59,000 when the government froze applications worldwide in 2012.
The majority of these were from wealthy mainland Chinese business people, according to the SCMP.
Alexander said the scheme had been open to fraud, including the practice of applying for a Canadian passport by people who had no intention of living in Canada.
"No one should be surprised that we took this action. It reflects our approach to immigration as a whole … we want to tackle abuse and fraud wherever we find it," he was quoted as saying.
But Alexander told the paper he did not want wealthy Chinese to feel unwelcome.
He invited them to apply under a new Immigrant Investor Venture Capital Fund plan or a business skills option the government plans to launch later this year.
Both were announced in Tuesday’s federal budget, the same document that cancelled the IIP.
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