country. The visa helps its holder to invest money abroad. A typical applicant is a millionaire and invests around $4.73 million to qualify for Australian residency. The visa also helps to sidestep restrictions imposed by the Chinese government on converting the currency and sending it to foreign shores.
The visa has literally opened a money train into Australia. According to Baker & McKenzie LLP, a law firm, investments through this channel could be in the tune of $9.45 billion per year. Approximately $1,000 individuals have sent in their applications. Many more applications are to be expected after a similar program was canceled by Canada in February. The sheer numbers have compelled the Australian government to hasten the review process and quicken the proposals. Many banks and hedge funds are actively competing to capture this kind of money.
According to Bill Fuggle, partner, Baker & McKenzie, based in Sydney, these investors are not the run-of-the-mill private equity kind of investors. He says that fund managers are required to visit China and then convince a prospective client of investing in Australia not simply for a visa, but also for a better lifestyle and also with the aim of preserving wealth.
These Significant Investor Visas, issued by Australia, are available with a minimum investment of $500,000 and a need for job creation. The visas are created to attract foreign capital and permit permanent residency in Australia.
According to the website hosted by the Department of Immigration, immigrants must put A$5 million into certain funds or government bonds which invest in agribusiness, infrastructure and real estate assets. The applicant at first must complete a residency of a minimum of 40 days every year over a period of four years before the permanent residency is granted.
The first visa under this program, named the 188 visa, after the number eight being considered auspicious among Chinese, was given to a Chinese toy manufacturer in 2013. The Australian Government has now made clear its intentions of “rebooting” the concerned visa regime making it easier to implement it.The visa approval process has been made quicker after the new Liberal National coalition took over Australian administration reins in 2013. About 282 applicants were awarded the visas in the September 2013 to June 2014 period, in contrast to the four granted during the program's initial seven months.