The Hong Kong Capital Investment Entrant Scheme has been extremely popular. Successful applicants can benefit from one of the premier financial centers of the world with a robust economy and a low, simple and predictable tax regime. Initially launched by the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) government in October 2003 to attract investments from qualifying individuals who wished to obtain Hong Kong residency through making a capital investment without the need to establish or join in a business in Hong Kong, as of the end of 2010, 16,600 applications had been received and 8,924 applicants had invested a total of $63.31 billion, representing an average of HKD $7.09 million per entrant.
On October 14, 2010, responding to Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Donald Tsang’s concerns about surging property prices in Hong Kong expressed in his annual policy address, the government temporarily removed real estate from the permissible investment asset classes under the CIES because 40% of the investments in the first half of 2010 had been in real estate.
The government believes that despite the amendments, the scheme remains competitive compared with the investment programs of other jurisdictions, and promised that the investment threshold (and net assets/net equity requirement) will be reviewed once every three years. With respect to the temporary suspension of real estate as a class of PIA, this decision will be assessed at the next regular review, or earlier as necessary.
In the short term, the beneficiary of these changes is the United States’ EB-5 program, which has become relatively “cheap” at USD $500,000, since Canada’s investment threshold is currently CDN $800,000. Effective January 1, 2011, the Singapore Monetary Authority’s Financial Investor Scheme (FIS) requires applicants to place S $10 million in assets for a continuous period of five years, up from a minimum of S $5 million previously.