Interest drops in Oz Significant Investor Visa

Changes made to the qualifying criteria for Australia’s Significant Investor Visa (SIV) last July have led to a significant slump in applications.

The Significant Investor Visa, which allows wealthy foreigners to invest AUS$5 million into an Australian business in exchange for residency (providing investment is maintained for four years), had been attracting around 50 applications a month prior to last July.

However, since rule changes were introduced, the scheme has received just 47 applications in almost six months.

Under the new scheme, 10 per cent of the AUS$5 million must go to approved venture capital funds and 30 per cent must go into listed emerging small companies, before other corporate and property investment is allowed. This has left many wealthy would-be immigrants to view the scheme as to high a risk to invest in.

Yet, in spite of calls for the Australian Government to loosen the criteria to allow for investment in residential real estate, it seems unlikely this will happen any time soon.

A spokesperson for Trades Minister Andrew Robb described last year’s review of the programme as being strategic, saying it was designed to attract investment in areas of the economy that have great potential but have not traditionally attracted large capital flows.

“Previously the scheme drew investment in areas that already attract significant capital, such as government bonds and residential real estate,” the spokesperson stated.

After the 10 per cent for venture capital funds and 30 per cent for listed emerging small companies, the remaining AUS$3 million can be invested in complying funds investing in companies, Australian real estate investment trusts or infrastructure trusts as well as funds in corporate bonds, and deferred annuities.

Investments in property funds can also be made but it is limited to no more than 10 per cent of the AUS$3 million.