In a move to encourage foreign investment in Australia, the
Federal Government has recently announced a broadening of the
foreign investor visa programme.
In this Alert, Senior Associate Ryan White and Law Graduate
Andrew Clements discuss the proposed changes.
The Significant Investor visa (SIV) was
introduced on 24 November 2012 with the aim of encouraging foreign
investment in Australia. It is targeted at people wanting to
maintain business and investment activity in Australia after their
original investment in Australia has matured and offers a pathway
to permanent residency for individuals who have an investment of at
least $5 million in Australia for at least four years.
As at 30 September 2014, there has been over $2 billion of SIV
investment into Australia with 82 percent investing in government
bonds or management funds. 88 percent of SIV investment has come
The recent changes to the SIV programme seek to further
capitalise on these investments in Australia and diversify the
sources of investors under the programme. Changes to the programme
will target investors more effectively, and strategically direct
these investments at areas of priority to the Australian
In light of competition for investors from countries whose visa
programmes often have less onerous application criteria and
processing requirements, the Federal Government will streamline the
These changes are part of a broader policy shift by the Federal
Government, which is looking for ways to encourage greater
international investment in Australia.
The most significant change proposed is the introduction of a
new Premium Investor visa (PIV), which will offer
a faster 12-month pathway to permanent residency for those who have
an investment of at least $15 million.
The key changes planned, include:
The criteria for eligible investments will be changed, so that
they align with "the Government's national investment
The criteria for eligible investments will be determined by the
Federal Government's Austrade agency in consultation with the
key economic and industry portfolios.
Austrade will also become a nominating body for the SIV (in
addition to the current role of state and territory
governments' as nominators) and will be the sole agency that
can nominate applicants for the PIV.
Administrative changes to streamline and speed up visa
processing, better promote the programme internationally and
strengthen integrity protections.
We note that one interesting development is the increased role
that Austrade will play under these changes. This may take some
power away from the State and Territory governments and will
facilitate greater investment in areas the Federal Government deems
to be key economic and industry portfolios. While the key areas for
eligible investment are yet to be identified, it is expected that
the areas will be aligned with the Federal Government's
investment priorities, including:
Food and agribusiness;
Resources and energy;
Tourism and education; and
Advanced services, manufacturing and technologies.
The increased investment threshold will increase opportunities
to attract investment from foreign high net worth individuals.
Investors and their advisors must still remain conscious of issues
associated with those investments, including the cross border-tax
implications and the possibility that over time the Federal
Government's criteria for eligible investments may change.
It is likely that the PIV will be introduced from 1 July 2015,
while changes to the existing SIV will take place during 2014-2015.
Implementation of the changes will be closely followed.
1Department of Immigration and Border
Protection, Significant Investor visa statistics available at:
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