US still most popular destination for HNW Chinese investment emigrants: report

The United States remains the most popular emigration destination for Chinese HNWI investment emigrants for the third year running, according to a just-released report out of China.

Canada, which the annual survey had placed behind the UK for the last two years, overtook the UK for the first time this year to become the second-most preferred destination for wealthy Chinese investors looking to relocate, while Australia remained in fourth place, the report, carried out by the Shanghai-based Hurun Research Institute consultancy, along with the Visas Consulting Group, reveals.

The ranking is based on interviews conducted between April and July of this year with 304 Chinese who had already emigrated or planned to do so, and whose average wealth was 20 million yuan (US$2.95m or HK$23m). Only jurisdictions that have “active investment immigration policies” in place were considered.

The jurisdictions were rated on the basis of educational opportunities, investment destination preferences, immigration policy, property purchasing, tax, medical care, visa-free travel, and ease of adaptability.

It is the fourth consecutive year that the report has been carried out.

The publication of the ranking comes at a time when growing numbers of jurisdictions that have long been favoured by Chinese immigrants, including the US, Canada and Australia, are looking to tighten up on immigration. The US, for example, is known to be considering major changes to its 25-year-old EB-5 investment visa programme, long known as the “golden visa” – including possibly doubling its current US$500,000.

A number of countries, again including Canada, have also seen the introduction of new regulations aimed at cooling housing markets that have been soaring in recent years as a result of foreign investors – including Chinese HNWIs – have been buying into them.

 

At the same time, cash-strapped countries, especially in the Caribbean in the last few years, have sought to encourage HNW immigrants with new “investment visa” programmes, many of which charge significantly more than the US does.

Other findings in the report:

  • Los Angeles remains the most popular city in North America among Chinese HNWI for the fourth year running, while Seattle, in second place, came ahead of third-placed San Francisco for the first time. New York remains the fourth most popular city, followed by Vancouver in fifth; “overall, US cities have seen a fall in favour since the Trump presidency”, a summary of the report’s findings notes
  • Education and living environment continued, for the fourth consecutive year, to be the main reasons those interviewed give for emigrating overseas.  “In addition, a new motivation – the desire for an ideal living environment – accounted for 53% [of respondents’ reasons for seeking to leave China] this year, while other reasons included medical care, with 29%”
  • Almost 30% of those surveyed said that long waiting times are their biggest obstacle to emigrating, followed by language barriers and the difficulties of integrating into their new country of choice

Rupert Hoogewerf, chairman, founder and chief researcher of the Hurun Report, noted that the number of Chinese HNWIs who say they are contemplating emigrating had dropped to “just under half, the lowest [percentage] on record”, though he noted this was still a relatively high proportion, just not as high as the 60% that the figure tended to be in previous years.

This year more than ever, he added, Chinese HNWIs are facing an  ever-widening array of choices to make as they consider whether to stay or go, and if they go, where to, as the US Federal Reserve has continued to raise interest rates, the yuan has undergone devaluation, property purchase restrictions have begun to be imposed on foreigners seeking to buy into certain popular overseas residential markets, and China’s so-called Belt and Road initiative has promoted international investment at home.

If China were able to get a grip on such problems as education and pollution, which top the list of reasons Chinese HNWIs say they are considering emirating, “then the primary incentive to emigrate will have been taken away”, Hoogewerf added.

To read and download the report from the Hurun website, click here. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Helen Burggraf
Helen Burggraf is the editor of International Investment. A US-trained journalist, she has worked in Rome, New York City and London, covering everything from the fashion and retailing industries to the global drinking water and water-treatment sector, private equity, and most recently, the international cross-border financial services/advice industry.

Read more from Helen Burggraf

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