Canadian refugees reporting higher incomes than investor-class immigrants

Canadian refugees reporting higher incomes than investor-class immigrants

According to data recently compiled by Citizenship and Immigrant Canada (CIC), investor-class immigrants are reporting lower incomes than refugee immigrants.

Even the income rate of investor-class immigrants is well-below the Canadian average.

If the data is correct, some serious questions need to be asked about our immigration system, which is particularly based on attracting people who can contribute to and invest in the economy.

“The data suggests [that] 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,” said Ian Young who reported the findings last week.

Although the investor-class program stopped last year, the federal government has implemented a smaller but similar program called the Immigrant Investor Venture Capital, which was started last December.

Before the investor-class program was stopped, other oddities have also been noticed. The flow of investor immigrants was heavily regional in character. In fact, more than half, approximately 5,000 people per annum, chose British Columbia as the province to settle in.

According to CIC, nearly seven per cent of Canada’s immigrants are ‘business-class’ immigrants. In order to be considered in the ‘investor-class’ you needed a net worth exceeding $1 million and had to invest $800,000 into the economy.

However, CIC says the average earnings of supposedly investor-class immigrants after their first year in Canada was only $18,000, well-below the poverty line. Stranger still, after living in the country for 15 years or more, average incomes of investor-class immigrants had gone up by only $10,000.

Worse, after having lived in the country for three years, only 47 per cent of investor-class immigrants reported having any income at all. After five years that number takes a dip by 8 per cent to 39 per cent.

While those numbers don’t tell the whole story of what’s going on economically with business and investor-class immigrants, Young believes it’s probably an indication that some are leaving the country or are declaring “nonresidency after the citizenship process is complete”.

For refugee immigrants, however, the economic picture is much rosier. After their first year in Canada, average incomes were $20,000 and after 15 years they are outearning their investor-class counterparts by nearly $2,000. By the fifth year living in Canada, the average income of a refugee is similar to the Canadian average.

“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,” said Young.

“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?” asks Young.

J. Ian Burchett, Consul General of Canada in Hong Kong, says there are particular reasons that could explain this gap in incomes between investor-class immigrants and refugee immigrants, and much of it probably has to do with language.

“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,” said Burchett.

According to Burchett, immigrant investors may have the hardest time succeeding in the country’s tough economy.

“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,” said Burchett.

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