Malaysian Entrepreneur and Investor Migrants - Part 2

In Malaysian Entrepreneur and Investor Migrants - Part 1, I discussed a recent phenomenon of HNW Malaysians seeking permanent residence solution in the United States via the EB-5 investor visa program.

This blog focuses on similar migration by investment programmes in three countries which have long been favoured by many outward-looking Malaysians: Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

Together, these three countries represent a significant proportion of the total number of Malaysians that now live abroad. From everything I have observed and heard back home, it seems the size of Malaysian diasporas in these three countries will only go up in the next decade or so.

Let’s look at some of the reasons of their enduring appeal and the current trends of their respective migration policies in turn:

Australia

Australia is the second most popular country behind Singapore that Malaysians emigrate to in the world.

Given the established Asian communities that exist in most of the major cities Down Under, the frequent flights and little or no time difference, emigrating to Australia is a relatively familiar and straight-forward option for Malaysians considering a move abroad. It is also no secret that the strong economy, high employment rates, stable political structures, excellent health care, and education system, varied and pleasant climate, low crime rate and overall high living standards make Australia an attractive place to live.

A strong and consistent number of Malaysians settle in Australia following study and employment in Australia through relevant student and work visa programs, and ultimately gain permanent residence in the country. In addition Malaysian investors, business owners and entrepreneurs also make up the top five nationalities that enter Australia under the Business Innovation and Investment Program.  This program is aimed at attracting high net worth investors and business owners who seek to invest or start up a business in Australia. In addition, the Government has also more recently announced the introduction of the Entrepreneur visa, which is expected to be introduced in November 2016. This should offer even more opportunities for Malaysians to migrate to Australia.

Canada

For a country as far away and as ‘disconnected’ from Malaysia (there is no direct flight), Canada has a respectable share of Malaysian emigrants. And despite its low population density, Canada is one of the world’s largest economies and consistently voted as one of the best places to live in the world. High employment rates, liberal and stable politics, large and well-established Asian communities, especially in Toronto and Vancouver, and excellent health care and education standards all make Canada a popular option for those looking to move overseas.

Similar to the expat communities in the UK and Australia, the vast majority of Malaysians who are now domiciled in Canada first arrived in the country as students.

The trend will likely continue, with its post-graduation work permit entitling graduates from Canadian higher education institutions to extend their stay for up to three years. For intending immigrants, the new Liberal Government has signalled that it will increase the age of dependants back to 22 years of age from the existing 19 years of age.

One word of caution though: the existing low commodity prices are having a negative impact on the Canadian economy.  This has resulted in weaker employment prospects in the resources sector of the economy, although the weaker Canadian dollar is helping other parts of the economy.

United Kingdom

The historic ties between Malaysia and the UK are well documented and have been a crucial ‘pull factor’ for emigrants. Furthermore, a British university degree and working experience in the UK remain the gold  standard for most Malaysian employers. As a result, the UK remains an ever popular destination for students and highly skilled migrant workers from Malaysia.

Several revisions of the immigration policy in the last decade have however made gaining work experience, let alone settling in the UK after graduation a massive challenge for most with such intents. One of the most significant steps in this direction was the cessation of the Post-Study Work visa in 2012, which effectively granted university graduates the right to reside and work in the UK for up to two years.

Perhaps more damningly is that in recent years, UK employers have shown increasing reluctance to hire foreign workers, largely due to the cost and bureaucracy in securing the sponsorship licence and Tier 2 employment visas for new graduates.

It is not all doom and gloom

Whilst immigration policies in general, are coming under scrutiny in many parts of the world the governments of Australia, Canada, and the UK seem to have all come to the same conclusion that investor and entrepreneur migrants must be encouraged and welcomed.

The Canadian Start-up Visa, the Business Innovation and Investment Visa in Australia, and the Tier 1 Investor & Entrepreneur Visas in the UK, are all practical evidence of the positive attitude shown by the immigration authorities towards the high net worth and the brightest emigrants.

Fragomen’s Worldwide Private Client Practice will be hosting a seminar in Kuala Lumpur on 30 July 2016, where leading immigration experts from the Firm’s Sydney, Toronto and London offices will be presenting options and solutions to investors and entrepreneurs interested in moving to Australia, Canada, and the UK by active or passive investments.

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Edmond Wan

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