Australian immigration to fast track 'special investor' visas

14 November 2013

The new Australian immigration minister Scott Morrison has said that he wants to fast-track 400 wealthy visa applicants for permanent residence. The 400 have applied for subclass 888 Significant investor visas and Mr Morrison believes that, between them, they have about AUS$2bn to invest in the Australian economy. He also says that he wants to 'reboot' the Significant Investor Visa so that it creates more Australian jobs.

The Significant Investor Visa was established in November 2012 by the previous Australian Labor government to try to attract international investment into Australia. So far, 28 Significant Investor visas have been granted. To qualify, applicants must have at least AUS$5m to invest in Australia. The investments must be made in investments approved by the Australian government.

There are another 400 people who have applied but have not yet had their applications approved. There is currently a nine-month waiting period before an applicant can receive an 888 visa but Mr Morrison says that he wants to cut this for fear that wealthy Chinese citizens will take their money elsewhere.

Morrison 'like a recruiter for a sports team'

Speaking at the Migration Institute of Australia in Sydney on Monday 21st October, Mr Morrison told his audience that he was poaching international talent 'like a recruiter for your local sports team'. He said that people who got 888 visas would 'transfer their wealth to Australia over a generation' and that their businesses would become Australian, creating jobs for Australians.

He said 'We think people who create business, people who risk capital, people who go out there every day and create jobs off their own enterprise is what we need to see more of in this country and certainly within our immigration programme'.

Mr Morrison also said that the 888 visa will be 'rebooted' so that it encourages immigrants to create Australian businesses. Writing in AM6 Technology website, Australian tech journalist James Riley said that 'there is an opportunity for Australian companies to build global products with Chinese money and an Asian footprint'.

$5m minimum investment

Under the current rules, investors must invest at least AUS$5m in an approved investment fund. They will then, after they are approved, be eligible for a Business Innovation and Investment (Provisional) (Subclass 188) visa. This will last for four years.

Providing that the investors spend at least 160 days in Australia over that four year period and maintain their investment in the approved fund, they will be able to apply for a Significant Investor permanent resident visa (subclass 888)

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