February 25, 2015 The number of Significant Investor Visas granted by the Federal Government has surged five-fold in the past 12 months. The latest figures reveal 651 visas have been granted since the scheme started in late 2012, up from 120 approved as of 12 months earlier.
Often referred to as the “golden ticket” visa, the scheme gives Australian residency to foreign applicants willing to spend at least $5 million on complying investments. After four years visa holders are eligible for permanent residency.
While overseas buyers are typically only allowed to buy new properties in Australia, those who hold this visa are permitted to buy existing stock.
Any property purchase by the visa holder is not included in the $5 million investment.
The number of visas granted is expected to grow to about 800 by the end of this financial year, says the assistant minister for Immigration and Border Protection Senator Michaelia Cash.
The average number of monthly applications lodged this financial year is already 15 per cent higher than that of the previous 12 month period, says Senator Cash.
The bulk of visa applications – 89.1 per cent – are from China. Hong Kong is the second most popular source country, with 3.5 per cent of visas granted.
Victoria has attracted the most investment under the scheme, with 371 visas granted to date, followed by 213 in NSW.
Those who successfully apply for the visa typically purchase high-end properties in the most prestigious suburbs like Sydney’s Mosman and Melbourne’s Toorak.
Last year a visa holder bought a five-bedroom home at 13 Quakers Road, Mosman, for $7.1 million through Kingsley Yates of Ray White.
Complying investments include Commonwealth, state or territory government bonds. A spokesman for Senator Cash’s office said the Federal Government proposes to expand the criteria for complying investments to funnel more of that investment into venture capital projects and start-up businesses.
The $5 million investment visa equates to $3.2 billion worth of complying investments in the Australian economy to date.
In a bid to attract more foreign capital last September the NSW state government loosened the rules to allow migrants to invest in the complying investment of their choice, rather than tying at least 30 per cent of that investment to NSW Waratah Bonds.
The Coalition is considering 12 recommendations made late last year in a parliamentary inquiry into foreign ownership into tighter controls and reporting of property purchases by foreigners.
Recommendations of that report were preceded last October by the launch of a Premium Investor Visa offering a faster 12-month path to permanent residency for people investing $15 million or more into Australia.
“The government is committed to further success of Australia’s investor visa program,” said Senator Cash.
“Due to the massive economic boost from the program, I am looking forward to a bigger potential boost to the Australian economy from the Premium Investor Visa, which will come into effect on July 1, 2015.”
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