Six months after the B.C. government called for more authority to boost its intake of skilled immigrants, officials have suspended a program that fast-tracked visas for business investors following a suspicious surge in applications.
British Columbia’s provincial nominee program saw an “extraordinary” increase in the number of business applicants for a category that promised a speedy visa in exchange for a $125,000 bond. The spike came after the federal government placed a moratorium on its own investor and entrepreneur visa programs.
The decision to suspend the program was announced while B.C. Jobs Minister Pat Bell was meeting in Toronto with federal, provincial and territorial immigration ministers this week to press British Columbia’s demand for more skilled immigrants.
The fast-track program, which provided speedy access to permanent residence status for investors who promised to start a business in B.C., was a potential embarrassment for the province’s capacity to handle immigration affairs.
A review sparked by the increase in applications found an uncomfortable result – few of those B.C. nominees who had put up a bond were actually running a business as promised. Mr. Bell told reporters Friday that the fast-track program has a “disappointing” success rate of under 20 per cent…
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