Australia on Sunday decided to scrap its so-called “golden visa” programme which provided overseas wealthy investors with the right to live in the country. The government said that the significant investor visas (SIV) were delivering “poor economic outcomes” for the country and would be replaced with a skill-based visa.
Australia has paused applications for individuals who invest more than A$5 million ($3.3 million) into the country as part of a broader immigration policy overhaul designed to entice more skilled migrants. All applications for the Significant Investor or “Golden Visa” program have been halted. Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil said the visa was one of “many aspects” of Australia’s migration system that the government plans to change in order “to create a system which delivers for our country.
Australia Golden Visa Scheme
The SIV was aimed at driving investment in the country and boosting innovative activities in the nation. To be eligible for a visa, the candidate must invest 5 million Australian dollars in the country. As per the BBC, the visa scheme was severely criticised in the country for increasing corruption and allowing wealthy foreign nationals to park illegal funds in Australia.
Australia’s center-left Labor government revealed a new immigration strategy in December designed to lower new arrivals to pre-Covid levels. Among the features of the strategy were a crackdown on abuse of student visas and greater targeting of skilled migrants to fill growing gaps in the economy.
Australia posted exceptionally strong immigration in the year through June 2023, with more than 500,000 people entering the country over a 12-month period.
What is the Golden Visa scheme?
As per the visa allowed foreign nationals to stay in Australia for up to five years if they invest at least $5m in approved investments. Of this, a maximum of 60 per cent can be invested in non-residential real estate, corporate bonds, and shares. The program was designed to attract more foreign businesses and investors into the country.
According to the Home Affairs Department, more than 100,000 overseas migrants have used one of the BIIP streams to gain residency in Australia since 2012. Of these, 85 percent are Chinese millionaires. Unlike other visa schemes, the golden visa did not require people to speak English and did not have any age limit.
Crackdown against ‘golden visas’ across the world
Australia has joined several other European countries including the United Kingdom (UK) which banned similar programmes due to concerns about the inflow of illegal money. The UK axed its investment-driven residency programme in 2022 as the government feared that money launderers from Russia were misusing the same to live in the UK.
“For far too long corrupt officials and kleptocrats have used golden visas as a vehicle to park their illicit funds in Australia and arguably hide their proceeds of crime,” Clancy Moore, the chief executive of Transparency International Australia told BBC.
The move is a win for people like Clancy Moore, who led a movement against the ‘golden visa’ programmes for its alleged “loopholes” and “vulnerabilities”.