Immigration backlog keeping millionaires out of Canada


TORONTO - More than 22,500 foreign millionaires are waiting abroad to resettle in Canada, bringing with them more than $9 billion to help cash-strapped Ottawa, immigration officials say.
There are about 16,400 millionaires alone in Hong Kong, Jim Versteegh, a federal immigration program manager at the Canadian consulate in Hong Kong, said about classified numbers released this week.
Versteegh said there are about 22,491 millionaire investors worldwide who’ve applied and are waiting to come to Canada.
They’ll bring about 77,800 family members with them.
“We still need a game plan for dealing with our inventory,” he said in a July 2010 memo obtained under an Access to Information request by lawyer Richard Kurland. “The total number of investor cases we now have on hand is 16,400.”
He said it’ll take about 12 years for visa officers to process the backlog of cases.
Only about 2,000 cases involving the federal investor program are processed yearly.
Kurland said investors are required to dish out $400,000 in cash each to Ottawa to obtain visas for their families, providing they pass medical and background checks.
He estimated the millionaires will hand over about $9 billion in cash to the federal government for use for the provinces.
“We are losing some of these people to other countries,” Kurland said. “Many of these people don’t want to wait for years and are going elsewhere.”
He said there’s stiff competition from the United States, Australia and some European countries for the well-heeled crowd.
“These people are paying hard cash for Canadian visas,” Kurland said. “That money will go a long way to create jobs and reduce our deficit.”
Federal immigration officials have said officers can only process 2,000 cases yearly because it takes a long time to determine the source of the funds or whether the money is linked to organized crime.

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