Immigration and the Chinese HNWI 2014.
Thursday, 12th June 2014
Source : Hurun Research Institute
Findings: Education, pollution and food safety concerns are three main reasons for emigration, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Vancouver are top overseas real estate investments for Chinese while 66% of those who have emigrated, or are applying or considering doing so, say they would consider getting a foreign passport after moving overseas.


Hurun Report and Visas Consulting Group, a leading immigration agency with offices in many Chinese cities, today released Immigration and the Chinese HNWI 2014, a 24-page report on the emigration trend amongst China's wealthy, as well as their investments abroad.


9.3 million individuals have emigrated from China, ranking fourth after India, Mexico and Russia, according to the UN International World Migration Report 2013.

The proportion of HNWIs who have emigrated, or are planning to do so, rose to 64%, up from 60%, driven mainly by the number of super-rich who have already emigrated, according to the Hurun Chinese Luxury Consumer Survey released in January 2014.

This report, Immigration and the Chinese HNWI 2014, is based on a survey of 141 Chinese high net worth individuals (HNWIs) currently in the process of emigration or considering emigrating.  Respondents had family wealth of no less than 6 million CNY (US$1 million), with an average wealth 42 million CNY (US$7 million). 6% had wealth exceeding 100 million CNY (US$15 million). The survey was carried out in March and April 2014, with 60% of respondents from Tier 1 cities in China (Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen). The average age was 41, 57% were male.

4Hoteliers Image LibraryRupert Hoogewerf, Chairman and Chief Researcher of Hurun Report, said "The recent surge of interest by rich Chinese applying for investment visas abroad, is another sign of this age of China's globalisation. I am delighted to be working with Visas Consulting, a leading immigration practice in China."

David Chen, Partner Lawyer of Visas Consulting Group China, said "In recent years, there has been a surge of interest in Chinese investment emigration, partly because of a clearer application process than before and also partly because they have a more global network, with many having friends and family already living overseas. I am delighted to be putting out this report in association with Hurun Report, the authority when it comes to researching China's private sector."


  • Education, pollution and food safety concerns are the three main reasons for emigration.
  • US and Canada are preferred countries for investment immigration, mainly because of the ease of obtaining a green card, clear application procedures, and the large Chinese communities, including friends and family, already there.
  • 66% of those who have emigrated, are applying or are thinking of doing so, would consider giving up their Chinese nationality to get a passport of the country they move to.
  • Biggest headaches in the process are long waiting time, language barriers and difficulty integrating into society.
  • Preferred amount to spend on investment immigration is 5 million CNY (US$830,000).
  • Professional services and track record are the two most important criteria when selecting an investment immigration consultant.
Overseas investments
  • Overseas investments account for 16% of emigrants' total wealth. Only 8% of respondents had more than 50% of their wealth overseas.
  • Real estate is the number one choice for overseas investments, for over 40% of respondents.
  • Los Angeles, San Francisco and Vancouver are top choices for overseas property investment. Almost half choose an area close to schools and education facilities. Other popular places for the purchase of residential real estate are NY, Seattle, Toronto, Boston, Sydney, Melbourne, Singapore, New Zealand and London.
  • One-third confident of investing overseas.
  • Asset diversification and children's education are the main reasons for investing abroad.
  • 70% are interested in buying residences abroad for themselves; only one-third buy for pure investment purposes. Average value of residence US$1 million.
  • There are currently 458 dollar-billionaire Chinese diaspora billionaires, accounting for 24.5% of global billionaires.
  • UK, Switzerland, Singapore, Canada, UAE and Monaco are immigration destinations of choice for global billionaires, according to Hurun Global Rich List.

Reasons for emigration

Education concerns, pollution and food safety are the main reasons driving China's HNWIs to consider emigrating abroad, accounting for 21%, 20% and 19% respectively. Other considerations are social welfare (15%), medical facilities (11%), wealth security (8%) and childbirth (4%). 

Emigration destinations

The US and Canada are the top choices for investment immigration. Los Angeles, San Francisco and Vancouver are the most desirable cities for emigration.

Emigration destinations:
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Source: Hurun Research + Visas Consulting

Investing abroad

Overseas Investment Confidence: one third of respondents said they felt confident about investing overseas.

Overseas asset allocation: On average, overseas investments accounted for 16% of their total wealth. 8% have put more than 50% of their wealth overseas. For more than 70% of those surveyed, overseas investments accounted for less than 20% or less of their total wealth.

Reasons for investing abroad: Asset diversification was the most common reason given for investing abroad with 19.8%, followed closely by children's education with 19.4%. Investing in the hope of being able to emigrate accounted for 16%, retirement nest egg for 11%.

Overseas residential is king: Overseas real estate was by far the primary choice of overseas investments, selected by 43% of respondents. Fixed income products and equities followed with 17% and 13%.

Overseas property

Motivation for buying property overseas – and amount invested: 70% of those surveyed were looking to buy real estate to live in; only around one-third planned to buy as a pure investment. The average investment in overseas real estate was US$1 million. Close to a quarter of those surveyed would consider buying real estate in a country to which they have no plans to emigrate.

The US is the first choice for overseas property investment, with 60%, followed by Canada and Europe, with 22% and 7% respectively. Los Angeles, San Francisco and Vancouver are the top three cities for buying property abroad.

Table: Most Desirable Cities for Real Estate Purchases by Chinese HNWIs
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38% of those surveyed say that detached villas are the type of property they plan to invest in abroad, followed by apartments with 26%. Townhouses accounted for 14%, and farms 7%.

When it comes to the type of neighborhood where they want to buy property, 46% of those surveyed say they would choose an area close to schools and education facilities, while 17% would choose city centers.


China's millionaires see the UK as the best place to study at high school level and below; while US is preferred for undergraduate level and above. 28.7% of the children of China's millionaires see the UK as the best place to study at high school level and below; at undergraduate level and above, 36% favor the US. The average age at which millionaires send their children to study abroad is 18; the super-rich, however, send their children abroad earlier, at an average age of 16.

Other notable findings
  • Main reason to emigrate to US and Canada is the ease of obtaining a green card.
  • Long waiting time is the biggest obstacle in applying for immigration; followed by language barriers and difficulty integrating into society.
  • Those surveyed felt that 5 million CNY was an appropriate amount for investment immigration.
  • Salary income, investments, and business ownership were the main sources of wealth of respondents.
  • Professional advice and past success rate were the two most important factors when choosing an agent to help with the migration application.
  • For overseas investments, stable growth was the guiding investment principle with 67%. Only 4% choose an aggressive, relatively high-risk growth strategy.
  • Lack of financial and investment knowledge is the most significant problem faced when investing – accounting for 31%. A lack of investment channels and time were the next most common concerns at 18% each.
The Chinese Diaspora

There are 458 dollar billionaire Chinese diaspora, of whom 358 reside in mainland China, HK and Macao.
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Source: Hurun Global Rich List 2014, released Feb 2014

In Context: Most Desirable Countries for immigration

The US tops the rankings for the most immigrant billionaires, with 41, or 9% of its total number of billionaires. They come from a number of countries and regions, including China, South America, Hungary and Taiwan. The UK ranks second, with 30 immigrant billionaires, accounting for 39% of its total number. They come from countries including India, Russia, Brazil and the US.

It is worth making the point that countries like the US have a strong track record for attracting entrepreneurs, who then go on to set up a business there. High-profile entrepreneurs include the Russian co-founder of Google, the Ukrainian founder of WhatsApp, the South African founder of Tesla, etc…

The UK is the capital for billionaire immigrants, followed by Switzerland, Singapore, Canada, UAE and Monaco.
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Source: Hurun Global Rich List 2014

* the ‘total' refers to the number of billionaires residing in each country according to the Hurun Global Rich List 2014


About Visas Consulting Group

The history of Visas Consulting Group (VCG) can be traced back to 1974, when founding partner and lawyer, Gaston Perron, opened an immigration practice in Montreal, Canada.

Now, 40 years later, Visas Consulting Group has become a leading international provider of immigration legal services, with wholly owned or joint-venture legal practices in the US (San Francisco and Los Angeles), Canada (Montreal and Vancouver), the UK (London), Australia, (Sydney) and New Zealand (Christchurch).

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