Australia Halts It’s Golden Visa Program

Australia Halts It’s Golden Visa Program

Australia has officially discontinued its “golden visa” program which provided permanent residency opportunities to individuals investing more than AU$5 million (£2.6 million) in the country.

Since its inception in 2012, thousands of Significant Investor Visas (SIVs) have been issued; however, critics argue that while benefiting affluent individuals, the program offered limited advantages to the Australian economy.

“It has been evident for years that this visa is not meeting the needs of our country and economy.”

Minister for Home Affairs Clare O’Neil remarked in a statement

Australia's new approach involves an emphasis on issuing more skilled worker visas, marking a shift from the previous investment-centric strategy.

In recent months, discontent with the golden visa scheme intensified within the country, prompting the government to address what it labelled a “broken” migration system.

A 2016 review revealed concerns about the program's susceptibility to “money laundering and other nefarious activities.”

The Grattan Institute, an Australian public policy think tank, raised additional concerns, noting that granting visas to wealthy investors often led to the financing of projects that wouldn't typically receive funding. Furthermore, visa holders contributed relatively little tax income to the government.

The institute's report, citing Australian Treasury calculations, highlighted that these individuals, often over 45 years old with limited English language skills, incurred AU$120,000 more in public services than they paid in taxes over their lifetimes. Notably, 85% of successful SIV applicants were from China, according to government data.

Last month, the Australian government unveiled plans to tighten visa rules for international students and low-skilled workers, potentially reducing migrant intake by half over the next two years.

Several government reviews indicated that the golden visa scheme deviated from its intended purpose. Skilled migrants, as per one review, contributed an additional A$300,000 to the Australian economy over their lifetimes compared to those who acquired residency through the golden visa route. Another review suggested that these visas attracted individuals with “less business acumen,” coupled with tax concessions that burdened the public.

In a recent policy document, the Australian government confirmed the scrapping of the golden visa scheme, redirecting its focus towards creating more visas for skilled migrants capable of making substantial contributions to Australia.

Australia now joins the United Kingdom, which cancelled a policy providing fast-track immigration to the ultra-wealthy in 2022 due to concerns over the flood of illicit Russian funds.

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