Brendan O’Connor, Australia’s minister for immigration and citizenship, announced on Friday (May 3) that the first significant investor visa has been granted.
These migration visas were introduced in November last year, and is the newest addition to the Australian Business Innovation and Investment Program.
Its introduction was a strategic move by the government to attract migrants to Australia who have proven themselves to be successful businessmen and women or investors.
“Significant investors bring with them their skills in business, their links to international markets and additional capital for investment in other projects in Australia that interest them,” stated Mr O’Connor.
A large number of people – 170 in total, according to the immigration minister – have applied for significant investor visas so far, representing an approximately $850 million boost in potential investments.
Friday’s successful applicant, who was nominated by the Victorian state government, is a Chinese toy manufacturer, who will be moving to Australia shortly with his young family.
This visa is unique in that applicants do not need to satisfy the innovation points test and there are no upper age limits. There is also no English language threshold.
Potential applicants for the significant investor visa must be nominated by a state or territory government and submit an Expression of Interest through SkillSelect, an online service hosted by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, before they will be invited to lodge an application for this visa.
The visa dictates that successful applicants must contribute a minimum of $5 million into complying Australian investments and maintain this one-off contribution over four years.
There are three kinds of complying investment, according to the Department of Immigration and Citizenship’s FAQ sheet on the significant investor visa. They are:
• Direct investment into Australian proprietary companies
• Government bonds
• Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) regulated managed funds
The ‘managed funds’ migrants can invest in include, but are not limited to, infrastructure projects and real estate in Australia, agribusiness and a variety of bonds.
This complying investment must be made before eligible applicants are granted their provisional visa.
If significant investor visa holders are able to continue investing the $5 million into the economy for four years, they then become eligible for permanent visas.
“Australia is in active competition with other countries across our region for successful, high wealth individuals and the capital and business acumen that comes with them,” stated Mr O’Connor.
This is why state and territory governments are primarily targeting “the most experienced business people and high-profile investors” with this scheme.