Australia is being urged to scrap its permanent residency-through-investment visa over fears it is overheating the property markets of major cities.
Interest in the program has dropped dramatically since riskier investment classes were introduced, and now experts say the time has come to end it entirely.
Under the program, candidates are granted permanent residency for an investment of A$5 million over four years, or A$15 million in 12 months.
The program has initial success when it was introduced in 2012, and has raised a total of A$5.4 billion over the last four years.
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But rapidly increasing house prices in sought-after cities like Sydney and Melbourne mean support is gathering for the visa to be abolished.
Statistics show 90 per cent of the 1,228 visas awarded through the program went to high-net worth individuals from China.
Critics say the program has been of little financial benefit to Australia, with the investment returned to the candidate at the end of the four-year period.
There are also fears it is being used to launder money.
An report commissioned by the Australian government recently recommended the closure of the program, saying the requirement for just 160 days of physical presence over four years was too low. It also criticised the lack of English language requirement and upper age limit.
The government is yet to say whether it will act on the report, released on September 12, 2016.
Since Australia changed the rules in July 2015, just 98 applications have been received and 10 visas issued against a target intake of 2,100. That contrasts with 1,544 applications and 590 visas during the final year of the previous program.
Meanwhile, Australia has already begun accepting applications for a new entrepreneur visa.
The new stream comes under the country’s Business Innovation and Investment Program.
To qualify, the immigrant must secure A$200,000 in funding from an agency specified by the Australian government (see below for a full list) in order to start their business in the country.
Securing the visa comes with a direct pathway to permanent residency.
Australia’s Entrepreneur Visa: Eligibility
- Be under 55-years-old.
- Have a competent level of English.
- Have an agreement in place for at least $200,000 to grow an entrepreneurial venture in Australia.
- Hold at least 30 per cent interest in that entrepreneurial venture.
- Be nominated by a state or territory government.
- Commonwealth agencies.
- State and territorial governments.
- Publicly funded research organisations
- Investors registered as a venture capital limited partnerships or early stage venture capital limited partnerships or any combination of these.
- Australia’s existing investment immigration program has been largely unsuccessful.
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