Canada has scrapped a federal immigrant investor program, halting the process for tens of thousands Chinese millionaires who are on the waiting list.
The Tuesday announcement was part of Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty's budget, which was delivered to parliament for approval.
The program requires investment of CAD$800,000 ($730,727), which is loaned to the government for five years with no interest and a personal net worth of CAD$1.6 million. It has been in operation for 28 years.
The Canadian Embassy in Beijing on Wednesday told the Global Times via e-mail, "Research shows that immigrant investors pay less in taxes than other economic immigrants."
Immigrant investors "are less likely to stay in Canada over the medium- to long-term and often lack the skills, including official language proficiency, to integrate as well as other immigrants from the same countries," said the embassy.
Canadian paper The Globe and Mail said that in Vancouver, the program aided wealthy people from the Chinese mainland gain Canadian citizenship. The immigrant would buy property and move the family to Vancouver, while living and doing most of their business in Asia.
It reported that those who have applied to the program and are currently on the waiting list will not have their applications processed, but will have their fee refunded.
An annual blue book on Chinese international migration, released by the Center for China & Globalization (CCG) last month, showed Canada is the top destination for Chinese emigrant investors.
Between December 2012 and October 2013, around 16,000 people from the Chinese mainland applied for investor visas to Canada, it said.
Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post gave a higher number, saying that more than 46,000 applicants from the Chinese mainland will be affected, accounting for 70 percent of the total backlog.
A consultant surnamed Ye from a Chinese immigration intermediary company in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, said that the Canadian federal government has already started returning applications.
"If you wanted to go to Canada, I suggest you consider going to other countries," Ye told the Global Times.
The US, Australia and the UK still offer similar visas, although the investment required is higher than Canada's.
Liu Guofu, a professor with an expertise on immigration laws at the Beijing Institute of Technology, said that Canada's tightening of immigration policy may prompt Chinese people to turn to the US and Australia.
While Chinese applicants are the most affected group, Liu said Canada did not necessarily target any specific nationality, and the adjustment may have been made to attract the people and the money it really needs.
A newly released report conducted by the Hurun Research Institute said that 64 percent of Chinese millionaires have already emigrated with their wealth or are preparing to do so.
The CCG's blue book said seeking better education opportunities for children is the prime reason for Chinese emigration, while environmental pollution in the country is also becoming a key factor.