By the Numbers: China’s Chase of ‘Golden Visa’ Abroad

From the United States and Canada to small islands in Europe and the Caribbean, Chinese are spending billions on new passports and visas to move their families away from their homeland.

China’s middle and upper classes are demanding better schools, cleaner air and a more secure life for their children. And as China gets wealthier, millions of families have the means to purchase a new life elsewhere.

 

Their demand has transformed a once obscure market for immigration by investment. To study China’s impact, the Associated Press collected statistics from 13 countries that offer citizenship or permanent residency for a price.

Here’s a look at AP’s analysis of the market, by the numbers.

China’s favorite programs

Consulting firms in China’s biggest cities hawk investor visa programs in weekly sessions at hotels and on social media. The market leader is the United States, as urban Chinese are widely familiar with American schools and culture.

 

Here are the five countries in the AP’s analysis with the most visas issued to Chinese investors and their families in the last decade:

— 43,448: the United States’ investment visa program, known as EB-5.

— 35,278: Canada’s investment bond programs, including a program offered by the province of Quebec.

— 7,875: Portugal’s “golden visa” program for real estate investors.

 

— 6,405: Hungary’s residence bond program, recently suspended by the government.

— 4,640: Australia’s program for high-dollar “significant investors.”

 

What they buy

Depending on the country, Chinese investors looking for a second home can join business projects, invest in bonds or make an outright payment to the government. Currency conversions are as of May 11.

 

— $250,000: the minimum price of citizenship in Antigua & Barbuda for an investor who donates to the island government’s development fund and pays a $50,000 government fee.

 

— $380,000 (350,000 euro): the minimum value of real estate investors must purchase in Portugal’s “golden visa” program.

 

— $500,000: the minimum business investment in the United States’ EB-5 program, with a “green card” given to investors whose money creates or saves 10 jobs.

 

— $584,000 (800,000 Canadian dollars): the minimum amount of interest-free investment to be made or financed for residence in the Canadian province of Quebec. (Canada closed a similar national program in 2014.)

 

— $3.7 million (5 million Australian dollars): the required investment in Australia’s Significant Investor Visa program in a mix of developing businesses and funds as defined by the government. Australia’s program is by far the most expensive in the AP survey.

 

What they spent

To understand how China has changed the global investor migration market, the AP estimated how much Chinese families have invested at a minimum in foreign countries for a visa or passport. The AP multiplied the number of investors, excluding family members, by the minimum investment level for each year, in each program for the last decade. In some cases, the AP estimated the number of investors with the help of government data or experts on investment migration.  

 

The figures below are an undercount because some investors put in more than what’s required. Investment amounts for each year were converted to U.S. dollars based on the average exchange rate that year. The figures have not been adjusted for inflation.

 

— $7.7 billion: estimated minimum investment in the United States through the EB-5 program.

 

— $6 billion: estimated minimum investment in Australia through its Significant Investor Visa program.

— $4.3 billion: estimated minimum investment in Canada, including Quebec, through its immigrant investor programs.

— $1.96 billion: estimated minimum investment in the United Kingdom through its Tier 1 investor program.

— $1.71 billion: estimated minimum investment in New Zealand through its investor and entrepreneur programs.

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