From 24 November 2012, wealthy businesspeople prepared to invest AUS $5million in Australia will be able to take advantage of a new “significant investor” fast-track visa as part of the Australian government’s attempts to align its migration policy with the country’s economic development.  It is expected that the visa will attract interest from the Middle East, Asia, and in particular from China.

Whilst the price tag may be high in contrast to some of Australia’s other business visa options, under the new significant investor visa, applicants will not be required to meet a points test, there is no upper age limit (which is usually set at 50) and there is a reduced physical residency requirement (160 days over 4 years in contrast to the usual 2 years residency requirement).

Investors are required to invest their millions in either:

  • State or government bonds;
  • Australian Securities and Investment Commission regulated managed funds; or
  • Australian companies that are not listed on the Australian stock exchange that meet the ‘qualifying business’ test.

Although the initial investment requirement is substantial, it does not provide an immediate pathway to permanent residency.  Applicants only become eligible for this after holding a provisional significant investor visa for 4 years.  The provisional visa can however allow an investor to reside in Australia for up to 8 years.

Although the investment criteria of other Western nations may fall below the lofty AUD $5million price tag, the Australian Government will be hoping that the lure of the Aussie beach and barbie lifestyle and love of Australian sport will be too hard for the world’s millionaires to resist.  Time alone will tell.