Canada cancels investor visas: modern Chinese Exclusion, or a sign that Canadian citizenship isn’t for sale?

A boy holds up Chinese and Canadian flags (photo credit: Vancouver Sun)
A boy holds up Chinese and Canadian flags (photo credit: Vancouver Sun)

Although most avenues of legal citizenship to North America involves skill- or job-based visas, one of the lesser-known avenues of immigration to Canada and the US involves visas that are informally referred to as investor visas (a class that I was unaware existed until today). In brief, wealthy foreign nationals — those with a net worth in the millions — have the option to apply for a special visa status if they agree to loan the American government $500,000 (or, $800,000 if you’re trying to immigrate to Canada) for a fixed period; in return, these “investor nationals” are granted permanent residency with an option to apply for citizenship.

Or, in other words, for wealthy foreigners, American and Canadian citizenship is for sale, and the cost is a paltry half a million dollars. Or, rather it’s actually free — the money is returned to the visa holder (interest-free) after three to five years.

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