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Asia Minute: Immigration Program Gets a Closer Look in Australia

Photo: Lachlan Fearnley
CC BY-SA 3.0 / Wikimedia Commons

A controversial visa policy in Australia is coming under closer examination. The program allows permanent residence for investors who invest several million dollars.

For the past seven years, an investment of about 3.4 million U.S. dollars could buy you permanent residency in Australia.

It still can.

There are some restrictions. You need to have a clean criminal record, and the program has been adjusted to move investment away from real estate and towards venture capital and emerging companies.

It’s called the “Significant Investor Visa” — and the country’s Immigration Minister David Coleman says it will be coming under closer review.

Coleman has been vague about what that review will consist of. He said in a recent speech that “we need to sharply focus on the practical execution to ensure that we are fully delivering on the goal” and maximizing “the returns to our economy.”

Government figures show the program involves fewer than 200 individuals a year, and the overwhelming majority come from China.

Since 2012, those figures show that 87% of the Significant Investor Visas have been granted to Chinese nationals — with many fewer applicants coming from Hong Kong, Malaysia, South Africa and Vietnam.

But there has been one other recent change in the program.

Reuters reports that the visa program in recent weeks has seen “a significant increase” in applications from Hong Kong, as wealthy individuals look at options for emigration.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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