[Us and Them] I’m Korean, you’re not, and there’s a fine line you can’t cross

Of note:

Silas Harper Bray, a 30-year-old English teacher based in Gyeonggi Province, has never regretted marrying her Korean husband. But others weren’t so fond of her decision, and they weren’t shy about letting her know.

She has found out during her three-year stay in South Korea that some Koreans do not like the idea of “mixing blood,” and they made sure she got the message, no matter how offensive it might be.

“Many people have told my husband that he should have married a Korean,” Harper Bray told The Korea Herald. “Two people have told us that if we had kids they would be ‘mongrels’ and to take them out of Korea as they will never be Korean.”

Most people may not care about foreigners marrying Koreans, but Harper Bray sensed that racism is a reality in Korea, and she learned that the ideology of homogeneity definitely had a role in it.

What Harper Bray learned goes back to how many South Koreans have erroneously taken pride in Korea being ethnically homogeneous. This has given reason for Koreans to treat those of other ethnicities differently and effectively bar them from identifying themselves as Koreans.

And that is slowly eating away at Korea’s reputation built with cultural heritage and economic success, as foreigners are left out and ostracized, told there’s no room for them at the party.

The country has been rapidly transforming with its demographic landscape becoming more colorful than ever before. With its socioeconomic and cultural appeal, Korea has become a destination of choice for many immigrants.

However, much more is needed for the country and its people to truly accept newcomers, experts say, especially when many Koreans still believe today that they live in a single-race nation, which must be protected to preserve its identity and sacredness.

More than 2.3 million foreigners were reported to be in Korea as of late last year, but the notion of Korea being a single-race nation remains alive today, expressed through stereotypes and discriminatory actions against immigrants.

“My grandmother always says that white, Black or whoever other than Koreans aren’t Koreans and can never be one, as they belong to places other than here by blood,” recalled Lee Jin-ho, a 30-year-old who said his grandparents maintained a tight boundary of who can and can’t be a Korean.

“She went full-on rage mode when she learned that my brother was dating a white American. She threatened to oust him from the family and whatever, and he had to give up. It was intense back then.”

Experts say such belief in homogeneity, a belief that Korea was born to life exclusively by the work of ethnic Koreans and no one else, is largely unfounded.

Many research projects in recent years have debunked the myth, showing how Koreans today are the result of massive mixtures from war, migration and travel, but the belief remained strong enough to be taught at home and in schools.

According to a report from local genome analysis firm Clinomics released in 2020, Koreans are a group of diverse ethnic backgrounds, best explained by the mix of the Neolithic Devil’s Gate genome in Russia and the Iron Age Vat Komnou in Southeast Asia.

Researchers said Koreans are likely to be the result of large population expansion and mixture that occurred throughout East Asia, rather than a unique isolated group that came into being from unitary migration.

“We speculate that this admixing trend initially occurred mostly outside the Korean Peninsula followed by continuous spread and localization in Korea, corresponding with the general admixture trend of East Asia,” the report said.

“Over 70 percent of extant Korean genetic diversity is said to be derived from a recent population expansion and admixture from the South.”

Yet historians and ethnic studies scholars say scientific backgrounds are not what has formed today‘s belief of homogeneity and the strict definition of “Korean-ness.”

“This concept of ethnic homogeneity that we still emphasize today was born rather recently,” said Shin Gi-wook, a sociology professor at Stanford University who is an expert on Korea’s demographics.

“This kind of idea didn’t exist in Joseon Dynasty, and it hasn’t been that long since Korean became a national language. Discussions on the identity of those in the Korean Peninsula only started in late 19th century, but still that wasn’t about ethnic homogeneity or anything.”

Shin says the nationalist belief dates back to the Japanese occupation in the early 20th century, when Koreans emphasized their own identity in distinguishing themselves from the Japanese.

Countering Japan’s objective to unite Asians from different countries under its colonial empire, Koreans preferred to categorize themselves as a different ethnicity, a tendency that peaked in the 1920s and ’30s.

The ideology grew again under the Park Chung-hee administration in the 1960s and ‘70s, which promoted modernization coupled with national awareness in strengthening the nation with everyone working as a single organism.

While Park’s dictatorship ended and democratization sped up, the ideological unity mostly remained. It has continued to today and served as a blockade between conservative ethnic Koreans and those who do not look like them.

“South Korea divides people into insiders and outsiders, and there is no concept of minority in their minds,” Shin added.

“Reality is that Korea is not so much a livable country for foreigners. They are categorized as outsiders, and they are never truly welcomed as valued members of the society even though Korea wants to be viewed as a country that is desired to be visited from elsewhere.”

Even though the country has been promoting multiculturalism as a policy initiative since 2006, Korea has not been very inclusive. Instead, newcomers are asked to assimilate into Korean culture and society on their own.

And even then, Koreans do not always consider those who have worked to assimilate as part of Korean society, believing they will leave soon or give birth to “mongrels,” as Harper Bray described.

This has also made Koreans take the problem of racism lightly, Shin says, believing the issue is more relatable to other diverse nations like the US and other countries in the West.

“We tend to examine cases of racial discrimination against ethnic Koreans in countries like the United States, but we don‘t really spend much time reviewing such cases in Korea,” he said.

“This is a sign that people take this issue of racism less seriously in Korea.”

Source: [Us and Them] I’m Korean, you’re not, and there’s a fine line you can’t cross

Actor Nicholas Tse renouncing Canadian citizenship amid China’s ‘blacklist’

Seems to be getting a fair amount of coverage:

Hong Kong-born action film actor Nicholas Tse (謝霆鋒) was seen on Chinese TV Sunday (Sept. 5) claiming that he is in the process of renouncing his Canadian citizenship amid rumors he is among the next to be blacklisted by China’s censors.

In late August, the name and likeness of Chinese actress Zhao Wei (趙薇, Vicky Zhao) were suddenly scrubbed from Chinese online streaming sites and social media pages. Last week, rumors began to swirl on Chinese social media that seven famous Chinese actors with foreign citizenship had been placed on a “reorganization list” by the National Radio and Television Administration.

In addition to Tse, the list allegedly includes Jet Li (李連傑), Zhang Tielin (張鐵林), Crystal Liu Yifei (劉亦菲), Will Pan (潘瑋柏), Wang Lee Hom (王力宏), and Mark Chao (趙又廷). Li has Singaporean citizenship; Zhang is a British citizen; Liu, Pan, and Wang have American citizenship; and Tse and Chao have Canadian citizenship.

On Sunday, an excerpt from CCTV 6 program “Blue Feather Reception Room” (藍羽會客室) that featured Tse was posted on Weibo. When asked to expand on his drive to share Chinese culture with the world, Tse said that as he has matured, he has developed this “sense of responsibility.”

In response to netizens’ comments about his Canadian citizenship, Tse stressed, “I was born in Hong Kong, China, so I was originally Chinese.” Addressing questions about his loyalty to China, he said: “In fact, I have already begun applying to renounce my Canadian citizenship.”

Tse pledged that regardless of whether it’s food, action movies, or music, he has a “sense of responsibility to spread these great things from our motherland to the whole world.”

He was born in Hong Kong in 1980, moved to Vancouver, Canada, with his parents in 1987, and currently holds dual citizenship. He lived in Phoenix, Arizona, for one year before dropping out of high school as a sophomore and moving back to Hong Kong, where he was discovered by a talent scout in 1997, according to his IMDB profile.

Source: Actor Nicholas Tse renouncing Canadian citizenship amid China’s ‘blacklist’

Parties should target the millions of voters outside Canada

Never supported expatriate voting for those with minimal to no connection to Canada which the current law allows.

Tax, passport and other data indicates that the number with strong connections to Canada is much lower and the 2.8 estimate is from an Asia Pacific Foundation study that included those under 18 and Permanent Residents (not just citizens).

Experience from other countries indicates a relatively small portion of expatriates vote given their greater connection to country of residence or other factors: less than 10 percent with the exception of France):

It’s estimated that 2.8 million Canadians live outside the country, yet Elections Canada expects as few as 34,000 expatriates will vote in Canada’s 44th general election on Sept. 20.

As polls tighten, and political parties try to expand their support, Canadians like me who live abroad are another source of voters Liberals can tap in order to secure a majority mandate — or the Conservatives can use to pull off an upset win. They just need to mobilize us, which the pandemic has actually made easier.

Despite attempts by former prime minister Stephen Harper to restrict the voting rights of Canadians who’ve lived abroad for more than five years, now, any adult who’s lived in Canada at some point in his or her life is eligible. Whether they agree with them or not, these are the rules the parties should consider as they strategize.

To maximize their chances of forming government, political parties spend campaigns energizing their supporters, or enticing undecided ones, to cast a ballot for their candidates.

Traditionally, they can count on about 60 per cent of eligible Canadians to vote. In the last election, 67 per cent of electors, or about 18 million Canadians, cast a ballot.

But despite efforts by political parties, in the past five elections, voter turnout has never exceeded 70 per cent. This leaves parties with limited ways to increase their bases.

But one way is to add voters. According to Nik Nanos of Nanos Research, the Liberals were denied a majority in the last election after losing 13 ridings by a total of 22,599 votes.

Canadians living abroad must register or request a special ballot to vote, mail it in, and vote where they last lived. Elections Canada is expecting a surge in these types of votes from inside the country, given the reluctance to vote in person during a pandemic.

This has changed the way political parties are campaigning. Large rallies and other traditional activities have been modified to meet public-health restrictions, which vary in degree across the country.

Much of the campaign is online, and this makes social media, organic and paid, more important. Digital tactics, which include encouraging mail-in ballots, make it easier for political parties to reach Canadians outside the country, who’d normally be left out.

Parties assign regional campaign chairs to groups of provinces and territories. Meanwhile, the estimated 2.8 million Canadians living abroad exceed the populations of nine Canadian provinces and territories, although it’s unlikely that campaign resources have been dedicated to engaging these millions of expats.

In contrast, Democrats Abroad, for example, actively supports voter registration, while keeping Americans who live abroad informed of key programs and policies.

Canadians live all over the world, but by analyzing past voting habits, we know where to target them.

In the 2019 election, most special ballots were requested from the U.S. and the U.K., and many fewer from China, Hong Kong, Australia, and Germany.

While we might not know how Canadians abroad vote, we know that millions of them have the right to vote and never have.

In a tightening race — and in an online campaign driving mail-in ballots — this is an opportunity for parties to gain voters. With some small changes in messaging targeted at key overseas locations, it could make all the difference.

Max Stern is a former employee of the Liberal Party of Canada, and a graduate student and communications consultant living in Brooklyn, New York.

Source: Parties should target the millions of voters outside Canada

Immigration-related party platform commitments: Working draft

Having reviewed all the official party platforms (save the unreleased Green platform), I have prepared this working summary of immigration and diversity related programs.

Party platforms are largely communication instruments that signal overall direction as well as targeting specific groups and interests. The longer the platform, the greater the micro-targeting, and both Liberal and Conservative platforms are long.

In general, the general consensus around immigration-related issues and thus immigration is not a major or polarizing election issue (save for PPC), as noted by John Ibbitson. And Andrew Coyne notes the same overall, without mentioning immigration”

I have tried to keep editorial comment to a minimum except where a factual or historic reference is appropriate.

Let me know if any omissions or any corrections needed.

Summary:

Levels: No reference to specific levels by CPC, NDP and Bloc.

  • Liberals are silent (save for a false claim of previous Conservative cuts) but levels are known through the immigration plan.
  • PPC platform commitment to reduce levels to between 100 and 150,000.

Economic:

  • Liberal commitments to welcome talented workers through existing Global Skills Strategy and reduce processing times to under 12 months.
  • Conservatives emphasize the priority to be given to healthcare workers and expansion of the Provincial Nominee Program in regions which retain immigrants.
  • PPC commits to increase percentage of economic and require in-person interviews with questions regarding alignment with Canadian values along with additional resources for background checks.

Family:

  • Liberals commit to electronic applications and a program to issue visas to spouses and children abroad pending full application processing.
  • Conservatives, more innovatively, propose replacing the lottery system with a point system based upon childcare and family support along with language competency, along with additional resources.
  • NDP proposes to end the caps on Parents and Grandparents while the PPC proposes to abolish P&Gs and limit others.

Refugees:

  • Liberals propose to increase the number of Afghan refugees from 20,000 to 40,000 as well as 2,000 skilled refugees through the Economic Mobility Pathways program with a healthcare focus.
  • Conservatives propose replacing Government Assisted Refugees (GARS) with Privately Sponsored (PSR) and Blended programs with no change in numbers. Priorities will be the most vulnerable, SPOs with strong track record and the introduction of a “human rights defender stream” for situations like Hong Kong as well as making the LGBTQ Rainbow Refugee program permanent. Additional capacity for the IRB along with closing the Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA) loophole (between official points of entry) and joint border patrols with the US are part of the platform.
  • NDP commits to addressing the backlog and working with Canadians to resettle refugees in communities.
  • Bloc would end the STCA and welcome French speaking refugees.
  • PPC commits to fewer refugees, declaring the entire border an official port of entry (thus covered by the STCA), reliance on private sponsorship and no longer relying on UN selection of GARS with priority given to religious minorities in Muslim countries and those who reject “political Islam.”

Foreign Credential Recognition: All three major parties with continue to work with provinces and territories, with the Conservatives committed to a task force for “new strategies.”

Cultural Sensitivity: The Conservatives propose “cultural sensitivity” training and matching applicants with officers who understand the cultural context of immigrants, most likely in the context of spousal sponsorship given some public awareness of previous IRCC practices and guides.

Immigration fees: The Conservatives would introduce an expedited service fee for quicker application review and processing

Temporary Residents: Both Liberals and Conservatives commit to a trusted employer system to reduce the administrative burden on employers.

  • Liberals mention the Global Talent Stream focus on highly skilled workers and commit to an employer hotline to resolve issues.
  • Conservatives would introduce standards and timelines for Labour Market Information Assessments (LMIA).
  • Bloc proposes the transfer of the Temporary Foreign Workers Program to Quebec.
  • PPC would limit the number of temporary workers and ensure that they are only filling temporary positions and not competing with Canadians.

Temporary to Permanent Transition:

  • Liberals would reform economic immigration programs to expand pathways to Permanent Residence.
  • Conservatives commit to pathways for both the “best and brightest” as well as low-skilled workers, latter based on labour market data, and those that are “prepared to work hard, contribute to growth and productivity of Canada, and strengthen our democracy”. Employers would be allowed to sponsor those wishing to transition.
  • NDP would provide a pathway to all Temporary Residents, highlighting caregivers in particular.

Consultants: Only the NDP mentions consultants and commits to government regulation.

International cooperation: PPC commits to withdraw from the Global Compact on Migration.

Settlement/Integration:

  • Conservatives state they will support settlement services but with no specifics.
  • NDP states that it will work with the provinces.

Administration (Processing):

  • Conservatives emphasize simplification and streamlining of application and administrative processing, with technology being used to speed up application vetting. The IT infrastructure (the one currently being developed) would record all transactions and applicants would be allowed to correct “simple and honest” mistakes rather than the application being rejected. The Conservatives also commit to harmonizing FPT systems.
  • The Bloc would accelerate Permanent Resident application processing.

Citizenship:

  • Liberals recycle their 2019 commitment to eliminate citizenship fees.
  • Bloc plans to table a bill requiring knowledge of French to obtain citizenship (currently, knowledge of either official language). Ironic, given the Bloc’s persistent in respecting jurisdictional competencies as citizenship is exclusively under federal jurisdiction.
  • PPC promises to make birth tourism illegal.

Visitor visas: Strangely, the Conservatives commit to a five-year super-visa when they had introduced a 10-year super-visa when in government that was maintained by the Liberal government. They also commit to explore more “generous and fairer visas” by more enforceable commitments on length of stay.

Multiculturalism:

  • CPC: No mention or commitments
  • Liberals commitments include: improve gender & racial equity among faculty (Canada Research Chairs $250m), reference to existing initiatives (Black Entrepreneurship, Black-led non-profits, youth), implement the Black-led Philanthropic Endowment Fund, strengthen equity targets for fed-funded scientific research, specific target for Black Canadians and Funding for promising Black graduate students $6m), support production led by equity seeking groups, creation of a Changing Narratives Fund for diverse communities, BIPOC journalists and creatives $20m), and Increase funding to multiculturalism community programs.
  • NDP commitment include preventing violent extremism through support for community-led initiatives, confronting systemic racism (few details), a national action plan to dismantle far-right extremist organizations, a national task force and roadmap to address over-representation of Blacks and Indigenous peoples in Canadian prisons and, working with the provinces, the collection of race-based data health, employment, policing.
  • Familiar Bloc commitments include placing the federally-regulated sectors (banking, communications, transport) under Quebec’s language charter, opposing Court Challenges Program funding for challenges to Quebec laws (e.g, Bill 21), a commission on prevention of “honour crimes,” and excluding Quebec from the Multiculturalism Act.
  • PPC would repeal the Multiculturalism Act.

Anti-Racism/Hate:

  • CPC: No mention or commitments
  • Liberal commitments include: a National Action Plan on Combatting Hate, possible amendments the Criminal Code hate provisions, boosting funding to the Anti-Racism Strategy and Anti-racism Secretariat, introducing legislation to combat serious forms of hurtful online content including making social media platforms responsible for such content, strengthening the Human Rights Act and Criminal Code to more effectively combat online hate, and the creation of a National Support Fund for Survivors of Hate-Motivated Crimes.
  • NDP commitments include: ensuring all major cities too have dedicated hate crime units, establishment of national standards for recording hate crimes (beyond police-reported which already exist?) and work with non-profits to increase reporting, ban carding by the RCMP and establishing a national working group to counter online hate and protect public safety, and making sure that social media platforms are legally responsible for distributing online hate.
  • Bloc condemns hate speech but no proposed changes to the Criminal Code and denounces “Quebec bashing” assertions regarding racism in Quebec.

Employment Equity:

  • Liberal commitments include: the creation of Diversity Fellowship for mentoring and sponsoring of under-represented groups, French language training for 3rd and 4th year university students to bridge language barriers to entry, expand recruitment to international students and Permanent Residents, and the creation of a mental health fund for Black public servants & support career advancement for Black workers.
  • NDP commitments include: a review to help close the visible minority and Indigenous peoples wage gap and ensuring diverse and equitable hiring in the public service and FRS (recent public service data indicates considerable progress).
  • Bloc proposes the use of blind cvs in public service hiring (pilot carried out in 2017 suggested little difference between existing and blind cv processes).

Working table below:

Syrian’s Vanuatu passport cancelled after revelations about ‘honorary citizenship programs’ – 18-Aug-2021 – NZ International news

Of note:

In the midst of the pandemic, Vanuatu’s “cash for passports” scheme is helping to keep its economy afloat.

With its tourism industry smashed, the Pacific nation last year generated $175 million — 35 per cent of total government revenue — from its “honorary citizenship programs”.

However, after a Guardian investigation discovered that recipients included a “slew of disgraced businesspeople and individuals sought by police” — including Australians — the government is facing a tough choice between potential international sanctions or domestic economic pain.

Vanuatu’s first citizenship by investment scheme, known as “cash for passports” locally, was introduced in 2014 and has had several iterations since, including one intended to raise money after Cyclone Pam caused widespread devastation in 2015.

Many countries have similar schemes, including Australia, but usually, applicants are required to become permanent residents first and then only after a number of years do they become eligible to become a citizen.

Under Vanuatu’s scheme, successful applicants can become citizens within a matter of months and there is no requirement to reside in the country or even set foot on Vanuatu soil at all.

It costs around $US150,000 ($200,000) for a single application and more for couples and families. Most of the passports, which allow free access to any EU country, are sold to people from mainland China.

It has long been controversial, but the scheme came under increased scrutiny in July after the Guardian investigation was published.

Last week, the Vanuatu government revealed that the Vanuatu citizenship of a Syrian businessman referred to in the report, Abdul Rhama Khiti, had been revoked.

Vanuatu’s Citizenship Commission chair Ronald Warsal told the ABC’s Pacific Beat program the US government had imposed sanctions against Mr Khiti’s businesses just weeks after he had made his application.

“After the article came out in The Guardian and during the course of the investigation by our Financial Intelligence Unit [FIU] it was decided to have it revoked and money he has paid to be forfeited into government coffers,” Mr Warsal said.

He said the government was investigating more of those mentioned in the article and others that were not.

“It’s an ongoing thing,” he said.

“We want to ensure that people who come to Vanuatu, who obtain Vanuatu citizenship, are not wanted abroad [and] are not fugitives.”

Transparency International Vanuatu chief executive Willie Tokon said it was worrying that the Syrian businessman was able to get approval in the first place and that his citizenship was only revoked when the matter was raised in the media.

“My worry is how come we have all these allegations but the screening by [the] Citizenship Commission and Financial Intelligence Unit didn’t come up with this allegation,” Mr Tokon said.

He said if Vanuatu did not have the capacity to thoroughly vet applicants, it should seek help from Interpol and other agencies.

“If there’s no other way to do it, do it properly. If we don’t have the capacity, we have very strong support from the Australian government in terms of the AFP, they’re providing a lot of support. It needs to be done properly,” he said.

But Mr Warsal said the government had systems in place to do character checks.

“We do [make] the final decision but … it goes through certain processes,” he said, saying it was down to teamwork between immigration, the FIU and the police.

Economics professor Stephen Howes, from the Australian National University, said mishandling of the citizenship programs could have a couple of negative consequences for Vanuatu.

Mr Howes said Vanuatu could become seen as a “risky” country for banks to operate in, or even get added to international money laundering grey or blacklists, which would threaten the country’s ability to access international finance.

“That would further isolate the country and make it harder to form international financial links,” he said.

It could also diminish the value of Vanuatu passports, making it more difficult for Vanuatu citizens to travel.

“Vanuatu citizens might suffer as well if other countries decide that they don’t trust that someone with a valid Vanuatu passport is actually a bonafide Vanuatu citizen,” he said.

On the flip side, if Vanuatu did decide to scrap the citizenship schemes, then they would lose the revenue the country needs to support the population during the pandemic-related economic crisis.

Mr Howes said it was more likely the government would bring in reforms and tighten up the application process.

He said actions like cancelling the citizenship of those like Mr Khiti would show they “won’t take just anyone”.

“If they can show [they have a serious vetting process], that will instil more confidence into the scheme,” he said.

He said abandoning the “unorthodox” source of revenue would be a “really extreme step”.

Not everyone who wanted citizenship of another country and could afford to buy it was necessarily of bad character, he said.

“Think about the uncertainties in China, some people just want a safety net,” he said.

“The world’s a very uncertain place. So I don’t think it means you’re a criminal [if you want to buy citizenship].

“I think it could also mean you’re worried about the future of your country.”

Source: Syrian’s Vanuatu passport cancelled after revelations about ‘honorary citizenship programs’ – 18-Aug-2021 – NZ International news

COVID-19 Immigration Effects: June 2021

Regular monthly update of impact of COVID on the suite of immigration programs: Permanent Residents, Temporary Residents, Asylum Seekers, International Students, Settlement Services, Citizenship and Visitor Visas. 

The major change is with respect to Permanent Resident Admissions, which have more than doubled from 17,085 in May to 36,625 in June for all three classes. Compared to June 2019, however, only the Economic class increased. (Minister Mendicino just revealed that July admissions are close to 40,000, indicating government was well on its way to meeting this year’s questionable target of 401,000 new Permanent Residents). 

Close to three-quarters of new Permanent Residents were former Temporary Residents transitioning. 

Temporary Residents (International Mobility Program) were up significantly while Temporary Foreign Worker Program was stable. 

Study permit applications and permits also increased, both on a year-over-year basis as well as compared to 2019. 

While the number of new citizens has increased compared to May, compared to 2019 the numbers are down by over half.

Fleeing Hongkongers boost overseas property markets from UK to Canada

Of note from the citizenship-by-investment industry:

Hongkongers moving abroad have bought at least US$100 million worth of property since 2019, a year marked by unprecedented social unrest, according to a Hong Kong-based law firm.

The Harvey Law Group (HLG) found that Hongkongers’ preferred destinations are the US, UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. Their interest in finding a residency overseas or a scheme that paves the way to citizenship through investment has increased fourfold in the last two years.

“From our clients worldwide, since 2019, they have bought about US$1 billion worth of properties under various residency or citizenship-by-investment programmes, and Hong Kong contributed about 10 per cent of that,” said Jean-Francois Harvey, global managing partner and founder of the firm. Since 1992, HLG, which has 18 offices worldwide, has served about 12,000 clients and families who sought mobility via residency or citizenship schemes.

“This demand had been sustained. Pre-1997 we had a small wave of Hongkongers, but in 2019 we had a perfect storm, and easily there was fourfold growth,” he said. Each time the city faced a political crisis, there was a marked uptick in inquiries.

The type of person seeking a second passport or a residency abroad has shifted over the years too.

“The profile has changed a lot. Before 2019, a typical Hong Kong client would be in their 50s with kids aged in their late teens. Now, we’re looking at young 40s with kids between two and seven years old,” Harvey said.

“Before 2019, Hong Kong was never a passport market, because the Hong Kong passport is quite convenient to travel with, but lately we’ve seen a very big increase in the number of people asking for a new passport and to acquire new citizenship because they want security.”

The alternative passport option became more popular still after Beijing imposed a sweeping national security law seen by many as an erosion of Hong Kong’s autonomy and the freedoms afforded its citizens under the Sino-British treaty.

The various residency and citizenship schemes on offer have boosted the housing markets of destination countries, as buying property is typically one of the ways to gain permission to stay in a country.

“There are many benefits to the host country, including to the property market. In fact, since the outbreak of the pandemic, many more countries have been designing and setting up residence and citizenship-by-investment programmes to attract affluent investors and talent,” said Denise Ng, head of North Asia at Henley & Partners.

For Hongkongers, the top residency programmes are those offered by Thailand, the UK and Canada, while for citizenship, the preferred schemes are in Malta, Grenada and Dominica, according to the immigration consultancy.

“For international investors, wealthy families and entrepreneurs based in Hong Kong, citizenship diversification through investment migration will continue to be a robust solution to navigating ever changing circumstances. [It is] a win–win for sovereign states and investors alike.”

It is estimated that about 50,000 Hongkongers chose to leave the city in 2020, though this year the number is likely to decline by 4.6 per cent, according to UK-based Astons, which helps clients buy real estate and obtain residency and citizenship via investment.

“For many Hongkongers, emigration is being considered with a long-term view and so the real estate component of residency or citizenship through investment can be particularly preferable,” said Arthur Sarkisian, managing director at Astons.

“It provides a tangible asset that can bring a further return on their investment in addition to residency or citizenship. Or, in the case of the residential path, it can provide them with the firm foundation of a home when starting their new life.”

Source: Fleeing Hongkongers boost overseas property markets from UK to Canada

Canada now accepts citizenship applications online

Good. Will be interesting to see the take up once expanded to families and whether that reduces processing time along with providing more timely application statistics:

Canadian permanent residents can now submit applications for citizenship online.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has launched a new online tool that allows citizenship applications to be submitted online.

Get help applying for Canadian citizenship

As of August 11, IRCC has opened the online portal to single applicants over the age of 18. It is not open to family applications, nor representatives. Also, it is not open to those who are employed by the crown and living outside of Canada.

Later in 2020, IRCC intends to open the online application to families, and minors under age 18. In 2022, the online application will be available to representative to apply on behalf of their clients. It will also be open to crown servants declaring residence outside Canada.

Applicants who have already submitted on paper should not try to reapply online, IRCC says in a media release.

IRCC had already been developing this new tool, as part of an initiative to modernize the immigration system. In late 2020, it released the tool to test the platform’s capacity.

The new online portal allows applicants to save partially-completed applications and resume them at a later time. It also allows users to upload supporting documents, proof of payment, print a PDF and ask for a confirmation of receipt.

Modernization of the immigration system

Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino has said his vision for Canada’s immigration system to become paperless.

The pandemic forced IRCC to start modernizing to allow for immigration to continue amid public health measures. So far, Canada has made citizenship testing available online, and also started holding virtual citizenship ceremonies.

Along other lines of business, the department has also begun doing virtual landings for newly-arrived permanent residents. For immigration applicants, a number of paper-based programs are starting to go digital.

Source: Canada now accepts citizenship applications online

Expat Canadians should pay income tax, argues reader

USA and Eritrea are the only countries that have citizenship-based, rather than residency-based taxation. Superficially attractive but as the US experience indicates, implementation not as simple as Auerbach presents.

Funny how advocates always have confidence that “we can do this in a way that is just as fair, but less complex, than the American system:”

By all means we should be encouraging expats to exercise their rights as citizens to vote in Canadian elections. This includes of course the well-off expats whom the Conservatives are reaching out to.  

However, with rights come responsibilities, including the responsibility to pay income taxes on one’s world-wide income. The U.S.A. recognizes this fact by imposing income tax on all its citizens, including expats who live abroad.  

The principle is simple: if you are a citizen you owe taxes on your income, no matter where you live. 

In practical terms, U.S. expats living in higher-tax countries get a credit for these foreign taxes and do not owe additional U.S. taxes, but those living in low-tax countries or tax havens do owe more. 

Needless to say, this means that thousands of American expats have given up their citizenship to avoid paying taxes to the country where they no longer live. However, they are no longer entitled to vote in American elections.  

Canada should do the same. It’s only fair. We Canadian citizens should be obligated to pay income taxes on our world-wide income (with a credit, of course, for taxes paid to other jurisdictions), no matter where we live. 

I am confident that we can do this in a way that is just as fair, but less complex, than the American system. 

It will be interesting to see what our political parties say about the fairness of linking the rights of citizenship to its responsibilities, and what the Parliamentary Budget Officer would estimate would be the amount of taxes that could be collected. 

Lewis Auerbach
Ottawa, Ont.

Source: https://www.hilltimes.com/2021/08/11/expat-canadians-should-pay-income-tax-argues-reader/310084

Column: Is it time to let noncitizens vote in local elections? Some Americans think that’s just nutty

Even at the municipal level questionable, particularly in Canada with reasonable and not excessive requirements. And it still raises issues regarding minimum residency and other requirements:

Should noncitizens be allowed to vote?

That sounds a little crazy, doesn’t it? Weren’t we taught growing up that the right to vote belongs only to full-fledged, passport-eligible citizens of this country?

Nonetheless, the movement to expand immigrants’ voting rights is gaining ground.

We pay taxes, immigrants say. We run businesses. We send kids to public schools, drive the roads, ride the subways and fight in America’s wars. We are stakeholders in our communities and shouldn’t be excluded from the decision-making process that affects us.

There’s currently a bill before the New York City Council to let legal permanent residents vote in municipal elections — up to and including mayoral elections. Since 2018, San Francisco has allowed noncitizens to vote in school board elections, regardless of whether they’re in the country legally or not. Chicago allows it for school council elections.

Here in Los Angeles, the L.A. Unified school board authorized a study more than a year ago on how to extend voting rights in school board elections to noncitizen parents, grandparents and caregivers. The study — which would presumably lead to a ballot measure — was delayed by the pandemic but will be revived as school reopens.

There’s no question that noncitizen voting rights is a radical notion. It’s understandably worrisome to those who believe citizenship matters.

And you don’t have to be a xenophobe or a white nationalist or a Trump voter to feel that way.

A few years ago, then-Gov. Jerry Brown, whose liberal credentials are pretty impeccable, vetoed a bill passed by the California Legislature that would have allowed permanent legal residents to serve on juries, saying: “Jury service, like voting, is quintessentially a prerogative and responsibility of citizenship.”

Citizenship is a concept, a construct — but it’s a meaningful one. The idea is that there is a difference between merely living in the U.S. and being a full participant in its democratic self-government. Many people are stakeholders, but citizens are more like shareholders.

Becoming a citizen is a process (unless you’re born here, in which case it’s simple luck). At the end of it — after you’ve waited your time, lived in the U.S., taken a test, paid your fees, pledged your loyalty — you are rewarded for your formal commitment with both rights and responsibilities.

And there’s a value to waiting. The term “assimilation” is out of favor (perhaps because it implies that immigrants must check their differences at the door), but “incorporation” and “integration” are still important — learning the language, understanding the culture, making sure you buy into the rules and values laid out in the Constitution. Shared citizenship is a unifying force.

My mother, who came to America during World War II, went through this process, becoming a citizen seven years after she arrived.

Nevertheless, despite everything I’ve just said, I’ve come around to the idea that we should try noncitizen voting anyway, at least in a limited way on the most local level. The advantages outweigh the disadvantages.

After all, the United States was founded on the promise of “no taxation without representation” — yet there are some 25 million people living in the country, more than half of them legally, who are unable to participate in the elections that affect their lives and livelihoods. And yes, most of them pay taxes.

When a segment of the population is excluded from the political process, it can lead to discriminatory public policy and mistreatment.

Furthermore, noncitizen voting was widespread in the U.S. at the beginning of the nation’s history; it ended only in the 1920s. It is permitted in 45 countries around the world in local or regional elections, and in some cases, at the national level.

Noncitizen voting in federal elections was barred in 1996, but where it’s been allowed in the U.S. in recent years — in 11 towns in Maryland as well as San Francisco, two cities in Vermont and a few other jurisdictions — the sky hasn’t fallen. In many cases, it has led to greater political engagement and often to “improved outcomes,” says Ron Hayduk, a political science professor at San Francisco State.

Hayduk argues that noncitizen voting on the local level can be seen as part of the process of becoming a citizen, rather than a substitute for it. It undoubtedly fosters a sense of belonging and investment in the community.

It’s all well and good to tell immigrants to wait their turn to vote, but gaining citizenship is caught up in the U.S. immigration system, which is broken and irrational by all accounts, with no fix in sight.

In contrast, a limited experiment in noncitizen voting by the L.A. Unified School District makes sense. After all, the school board cited an estimate that 42% of Southern California’s children have at least one parent who is not a citizen, without a voice in the district’s leadership.

The expansion of the franchise should be narrow. It should be for school board elections only, and it could be restricted to legal permanent residents with children in the system. Let’s try it and see what happens.

Noncitizen voting raises fundamental questions about our country. Who is an American? Who gets to set the rules? What does it mean to run a country “with the consent of the governed”? What are the costs if millions of stakeholders are excluded from decision-making?

This experiment would challenge our assumptions but perhaps make us stronger in the long run.

Source: Column: Is it time to let noncitizens vote in local elections? Some Americans think that’s just nutty