Nation frets as middle class heads overseas

Updated: 2014-06-25 07:02

By Lyu Chang (China Daily)

  Comments() Print Mail Large Medium  Small 分享按钮 0

Lower entry barries propel emigration

A foreign passport, which was once a costly accessory for the Chinese super rich, is now increasingly within reach for an ordinary family in China, especially as average household wealth booms in the world's second-largest economy, immigration experts told China Daily.

"It was like winning a lottery in the past. Today a foreign passport is no longer a distant dream for a middle-class family, especially as most families can afford the costs due to the higher income they earn," said Tina Hou, managing director of the US-based Civitas Capital, an asset management and financial services firm.

Hou, whose company has been dealing with more than 500 Chinese investors over the past few years, said that foreign passports or permanent foreign residency, which used to be an exclusive for China's high net worth individuals, normally with over $5 million in assets, are now frequently sought after by an expanding China's middle class, a key source of emigrants to the US.

In China, the middle class is a much broader term than it is in Western countries. Experts said it is more defined by looking at people's life-style like the type of the apartment they are living in and whether they have a car, rather than people's income or occupation.

According to Hou, the migration drive is not confined to the first-tier cities in China. A growing number of the prospective migrants are from second- and third-tier cities, she said.

At the same time, the threshold to become a global citizen has been lowered, as cash-strapped European countries like Cyprus and Greece are trying to make money out of their investment visas.

"The Cyprus property-investment programs are in great demand, because it is easy to get," said Wu Zhan, an immigration consultant at Globe Group, a Beijing-based immigration firm.

To obtain a three-year visa, which allows access to the entire European Union, Cyprus requires prospective investors to purchase property worth at least 300,000 euros ($416,000), according to Wu.

"European countries are going through property turmoil, and the threshold is not very high when you compare the housing prices in Cyprus and those in Beijing. Chinese investors usually make a one-off payment," she said, adding that the prospective emigrants have no need to resort to a mortgage.

Countries like the US have yet to raise the investment threshold for prospective investors and hence are among the most sought-after destinations for the Chinese middle-class.

Earlier reports said that the US is likely to increase the investor-immigration threshold from $500,000 to $850,000 for a green card, after the current immigration act expires in 2015. This is prompting Chinese investors to rush for US green cards, said experts.

"Long waits or not, the US still remains the top destination for Chinese people, because of its vast education resources and tolerance to various cultures," Hou said.

Nation frets as middle class heads overseas

Nation frets as middle class heads overseas

 Chinese immigration spikes in New York City  Canadian Citizenship and Immigration minister visits SAFEA



Previous Page 1 2 3 Next Page