For Australia, our significant investment visas program is another way to capitalise on China’s economic boom. Simply put, we offer a pathway to permanent residency in exchange for pouring funds into country.
Earlier this year, analysis revealed that Australia’s SIV program – which was introduced in 2012 -- brought in around $4 million a day for our economy. Nine out of ten applications last year were from Chinese nationals.
Given the ongoing review into the program and its potential expansion, we decided to take a look at how it stacks up against rival SIV programs around the globe.
First, it’s worth noting that we have only measured SIVs, not other investment visas. Much like other countries, Australia actually has a tiered approach to its investor visa program. You can get a visa with a much lower investment of $A1.5 million but that comes with stricter stipulations and conditions. The same applies for the US, UK, Ireland, and New Zealand. The $5 million rendition comes with fewer regulations.
On this basis, we’re actually not offering the most expensive ‘golden ticket’ in the world: that honour goes to our brethren and sisters across the Tasman.
And as for the cheapest, Canada cancelled its program earlier this year. The government says that it is aiming to relaunch it in the coming months with an eye to increasing the amount investors need to chip in to gain access the program.
Likely due to the price of the program, it had been overflowing with applicants. Prior to its cancellation, there was believed to be around 65,000 investors in line for a Canadian SIV. To give you a comparison, Australia approved a total of 255 SIVs by between the program’s inception in 2012 and May 2014. Even the US was thrashing us; it reportedly drew just over 6500 applicants in the past year.
Despite the figures, Berrick Wilson, a managing director at Korda Mentha who deals with SIV applicants, believes the current program is targeting a sweet spot of migrants looking for quality investments and not just citizenship.
“When you look at the current Australian SIV program I would suggest it is well balanced with a reasonable mix of investment threshold and visa conditions,” Wilson says.
“If the program reaches the targeted category of high net worth migrants, my experience is that the $5 million is just the initial investment and once they get to Australia, have relationships and understand the market they are looking to invest a lot more across various industries.”
The trick for the government going forward will be to keep track of all of this investment — and perhaps in the process finally prove (or disprove) assumptions that it's all going towards our ballooning housing market.
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