Australian Price based Immigration System:
The Australian government is considering new rules that could allow migrants to buy their way into Australia for as little as AU$ 50,000. The government’s independent think tank – the Productivity Commission – is evaluating a price-based immigration system that would use entry fees to determine who gains entry to Australia. The scheme is being proposed to bring in much-needed revenue to help the government reduce its budget deficit.
Under the proposed new system, immigrants would be able to buy Australian citizenship without requiring any specific skills or family connections, with the “entry fees” alone being the main requirement. The Productivity Commission believes that such a program will help generate billions of dollars in revenue for the Australian government.
The proposal also outlines an immigration lottery system as well as a new immigration fee payments system to be implemented.
However, the proposal has been met with criticism from Australia’s unions and business groups who feel that the focus of the government’s immigration policy should be the skills shortages faced by the country.
At present permanent residency in Australia is granted to immigrants under a point based system for applicants with certain specific skills, to people who have their families living in Australia and to others who qualify under special eligibility criteria.
The proposed scheme suggests various ways in which the Australian government can run the program, one of which is to put an annual cap on the number of immigrants allowed through the scheme, similar to the US immigration program’s “diversity lottery”, which allocates up to 50,000 places per year through a lottery system.
The commission has also proposed that immigrants who are unable to pay the entry fee upfront should be helped through a loan program wherein they could borrow money against their expected future earnings. The proposed program is said to have received support from Nobel Prize-winning economist Gary Becker.
According to Senator David Leyonhjelm, the entry fee of $50,000 would be most appropriate for such a program. “This would make a substantial financial contribution to the Australian budget and I hope that would lead to lower taxes,” he said, while also proposing that the government could even waive the fee for certain professions or trades.
However the Australian government has stressed that the scheme is just a proposal at this stage and is being thoroughly assessed. “The government is keen to see the Productivity Commission analyze these issues thoroughly, however there are no plans to make significant changes to the migration program,” said Immigration Minister Peter Dutton.
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