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Australia’s new AUD$5m golden visa

Open door policy for millionaires, just not via boat

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Australia’s yen to morph into an entrepreneurial hub for the Asia Pacific region has led to the creation of a new visa category designed to lure the world’s brightest and richest business elite.

Once the Australian immigration is satisfied that you have the business credentials of the next Sergey Brin or Mark Zuckerberg, all you need is $AUD5 million or more to invest in the local economy.

The ‘Significant Investor’ visa, a new stream within the Business Innovation and Investment program, kicks into effect from this week.

The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Chris Bowen said that the new visa was important for Australia’s regional competitiveness to attract “high wealth and high skilled migrants and the capital that comes with them.”

The new visa opens the door to migrant investors by offering concessions (PDF) on visa requirements, such as a not having to meet a points test and waiving the age restriction.

It has also has a low residence requirement of 160 days spent here over four years – essential for the globetrotting entrepreneur- after which migrant investors are eligible for permanent residence.

Significant Investors can also extend their four-year provisional visa by two years, with a maximum of two extensions.

The new cashed up Aussies-in-waiting have a range of investment options to sink their foreign cash into including Commonwealth, state and territory government bonds, Australian Securities and Investments Commission regulated managed funds and direct investment into proprietary Australian companies.

The generosity of the new visa comes at an awkward time for the government and Bowen which is under attack for its immigration policy in regard to refugees and a mounting problem with illegal immigrants arriving via boat.

Across the Tasman, New Zealand has a similar visa in existence known as Investor Plus.

The visa allows you to apply for residency if you have at least $NZ10m to invest in the New Zealand economy.

That visa has a series of health and character requirements and a 12 month period in which would-be migrants must show New Zealand the money. The investment also needs to be retained in acceptable investments for three years with a requirement to spend at least 44 days in New Zealand each year in years two and three of your three-year investment.

The best known poster boy for the Investor Plus visa is Kim Dotcom who after three application attempts and numerous local property investments was granted New Zealand residency in November 2010. He was granted the visa under a ‘special directive’ as he had a slew of foreign convictions and hence questionable ‘good character’ requirements. ®

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