Three million people snap up Canada’s 10-year visas

September 1, 2017

By Douglas Todd, The Province |

The global appetite for Canada’s new 10-year visas appears insatiable, especially in China.

More than three million people from countries with which Canada has long had travel restrictions have obtained the 10-year, multiple-entry visas since the program began in 2014.

With almost half the 10-year visas being handed out in Mainland China, where Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government this year opened seven new visa offices, the province of B.C., more than anywhere in Canada, has experienced a surge of visitors.

Immigration specialists say the 10-year visas are having multiple effects on Canada.

They’ve markedly boosted tourism. And they’ve helped re-connect globally far-flung families for extended periods.

Because of loopholes in Canadian tax law, Sam Hyman said, it is possible for rich foreign nationals to take advantage of the 10-year visa to avoid paying Canadian taxes on their global income.STEVE BOSCH / VANCOUVER SUN
The global appetite for Canada’s new 10-year visas appears insatiable, especially in China.

More than three million people from countries with which Canada has long had travel restrictions have obtained the 10-year, multiple-entry visas since the program began in 2014.

With almost half the 10-year visas being handed out in Mainland China, where Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government this year opened seven new visa offices, the province of B.C., more than anywhere in Canada, has experienced a surge of visitors.

Immigration specialists say the 10-year visas are having multiple effects on Canada.

They’ve markedly boosted tourism. And they’ve helped re-connect globally far-flung families for extended periods.

But they have also been vulnerable to abuse by rich trans-nationals with families in Canada who seek to avoid paying Canadian income taxes on their global income.

More than 1.4 million Mainland Chinese have gone through the vetting process to obtain Canada’s 10-year visa, which allows visits of up to six months at a time.

More than 716,000 people from India have also obtained multiple-entry visas, followed by 273,000 from Brazil and 140,000 from the Philippines.

The federal government says Mainland China visitors now spend $1 billion a year in Canada. Travel from that country has soared and China has become Canada’s third largest source of visitors after the U.S. and the U.K.

George Lee, a Burnaby immigration lawyer who was born in China, says Metro Vancouver hotels, retailers and restaurants are responding to the swelling stream of Chinese visitors by hiring more Mandarin-speaking employees and even making sure their staff “serve Coca-Cola warm,” the custom in China.

In addition, Lee said wealthy Mainland Chinese visitors are increasingly buying hotels, resorts and residential real estate in B.C., particularly in Metro Vancouver and on Vancouver Island.

“Vancouver has become a global village,” Lee said. “When we encounter a new trend … some, if not most, dislike it. They feel challenged and intimidated. But eventually people will get used to it.”

Immigration lawyer Sam Hyman believes the 10-year visas not only help boost tourism from China, India, Brazil and elsewhere; they also help far-flung relatives reunite for extended periods of time in Canada — without having to go through the process of applying for permanent resident status.

For instance, Hyman has worked with many Latin American families who immigrated to Canada in the past couple of decades. Their offshore parents and other relatives, he said, have been applying for 10-year visas to come to Canada as “seasonal visitors,” staying for months at a time.

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