Investor visa changes ahead

Investor visa demand has been exceeding supply prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to a review by the Department of Home Affairs which was finalised on February 14 and will likely see the further announcements of new rules within the coming months.

The Department of Home Affairs has already announced changes to it’s Business Innovation and Investment Program (BIIP) including a reduction from the existing nine different business and investment streams to four, as a part of the “getting a better deal for Australia” plan. The streams of Business Innovation; Entrepreneur; Investor and Significant Investor will see an increase in available places under the BIIP from 6862 in 2019-20 to 13,500 places for 2020-2021.

The Government ​intends to put in place measures aligned with the findings in their recent review from July 2021. These final changes are expected to direct much needed capital into small- to medium-sized businesses by increasing allocations for investor visas into these businesses instead of government bonds, which is the current requirement.

There is also speculation that there could be a reduction in waiting times on the conditions of an additional $1 million investment.

Current arrangements allow both Significant Investor Visa and Investor Visa holders, a temporary four-year residency, but provide streams with different pathways to permanent residency. It is expected the Investor Visa will see the investment requirement lift from $1.5 million to $2.5 million, with some potential rule changes around reducing the waiting times to gain access to that permanent residency.

China accounts for the vast majority of significant investment visas. The Australia China Business Council (ACBC) estimates that despite only accounting for 0.1 per cent of all visas granted to Australia each year, the Significant Investor Visa program has contributed more than $10 billion to the Australian economy since being introduced in 2012. The ACBC believe lifting the thresholds could reduce demand for visas, stating “There is a real danger if the threshold amount is increased that Chinese investors will be deterred from applying for Australian SIVs and may consider investing in other international jurisdictions such as New Zealand or the USA.”

Source: Australian Financial Review

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