25 May 2012

Australia visa programme to boost investment

The Australian government has announced it will allow wealthy overseas investors the chance to gain an Australia visa if they are willing to invest AU$5 million (£3.1 million) in Australia.

Australia visa

Foreign investors willing to invest AU$5 million (£3.1 million) in the economy will receive an Australia visa.

Julia Gillard's government hopes the new Australia visa programme will promote capital and job creation and forms part of the government's plan to address the skills shortages created as a result of the ongoing resources boom.

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen is expected to announce the changes, which will also include a change to business visa programmes in order to prioritise potential migrants with a history of business innovation, today.

"Australia is well placed to attract investors who are looking for the financial security offered by a stable government and economy," said Mr Bowen.

The new visa category is expected to receive high interest from Asian investors, particularly Chinese investors. Mr Bowen said a study carried out in 2011 showed 47% of Chinese investors worth over AU$15 million (£9.3 million) expressed interest in applying for the visa.

Australia joins several other countries, including the UK and the US, in implementing an investor visa and the move is likely to prove controversial as it is easy to claim governments are prioritising rich migrants and even allowing wealthy foreigners to 'buy' a visa.

"There are many people in Australia who have been waiting a long time to be able to bring out family members, and these are people who are going to contribute to Australia in the long term and really boost productivity," said Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young.

"Rather than prioritising those people, the government has picked the rich; I do think that's a little disappointing."

However, the Australian government has refuted such accusations, claiming overseas investment is as vital to the economy as migration in boosting job creation and skills.

"[Investor visa applicants'] investments will offer a disproportionate boost to the economy and to the financial services sector. We will encourage them to take more innovative and bolder business decisions with greater certainty around their residence status while they're doing so," said Mr Bowen.

The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent Australian immigration consultancy specialising in helping people lodge their applications with the Australian Embassy.

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