“Millionaire” Visa Launched in Australia

The Australian immigration department have launched a new visa that targets wealthy overseas citizens who are willing to invest large amounts of money in the country.

Referred to as “the golden ticket,” the Significant Investor Scheme will be open to individuals who have invested a minimum of AU$5 million in Australian-based assets. Qualifying assets include managed funds, government bonds, any projects that are aimed at improving the infrastructure, start-up businesses or agriculture. Under the new scheme, qualifying expats will be fast-tracked through the visa process, regardless of their age or the number of points they score on the application.

Discussing the scheme, which was formally introduced last week, Australian immigration minister Chris Bowen said: “The Significant Investor visa is an important new tool in the armoury of Australia’s financial services sector, as Australia looks to compete in our region for high-wealth and high-skilled migrants and the capital that comes with them.”

The new visa offering has received mixed responses. An article on the Wall Street Journal blog claims that the new scheme is aimed at attracting millionaires from China and India. Commenting in the article, Mark Wright, a Sydney-based partner at Deloitte commented: “There’s an enormous pipeline of interest and China alone will drive the over-subscription of this visa category, although there’s also strong demand from India.

Australia is politically stable, with a strong economy, well developed health and education systems, and a high quality of life.”

Other people argue that the visa was designed to help to progress infrastructure projects and provide startups with much-needed investment funds. However, not everyone agrees with the process. Speaking in UK newspaper The Telegraph one existing Australian expat claimed: “It seems a bit two-faced as Australia has a reputation of turning away asylum seekers and boat people, yet is bending over backwards to accept foreigners just because they are wealthy. Thankfully I qualified under the points system, as I’m not quite a millionaire yet.”

Australia is not the first country to introduce visas in exchange for investment. Similar schemes are in existence in the US, Canada, New Zealand, Singapore and the UK.