Changes looming for Australian investment visas

The Australian Government has today released a draft investment framework for an enhanced Significant Investor Visa Scheme (SIV) and design options for a new Premium Investor Visa (PIV) as part of its broader competitiveness agenda. The reforms are aimed at better directing investment through the visa schemes into more dynamic areas of the economy, including venture capital and small emerging companies.

The framework and design options were developed by Austrade following initial rounds of stakeholder consultation which attracted 68 written submissions.

Under the existing SIV scheme investment is directed largely into passive investments like government bonds. Applicants are required to make an investment of at least $5 million in complying investments for a minimum of four years. Under the proposed changes government bonds would no longer be a complying investment class.

The proposed complying investment framework for the SIV scheme includes:

  •          Specifying that at least 20 per cent ($1m) of the applicant’s $5m investment must flow into early stage, growth capital investments, through approved venture capital funds.
  •          Specifying that at least 30 per cent ($1.5m) of the applicant’s investment must flow into emerging listed companies, through managed funds investing in small Australian stock exchange listed companies
  •          Reinforcing the existing rules banning direct investment into residential real estate, and introducing new measures to clamp down on indirect investment into residential real estate. A portion of funds will continue to be permitted to flow into commercial real estate, via managed funds.
  •          Enhanced measures to improve protection for investors.

The Premium Visa scheme would require a minimum investment of $15 million and offer an accelerated 12-month pathway to citizenship.

This scheme will be more flexible in terms of investment class and will be aimed at attracting exceptional business people to Australia, including high-calibre entrepreneurs.

Changes to complying investment policy for the SIV and new PIV would take effect from 1 July,

Further information is available at: http://www.austrade.gov.au/invest/significant-investor-visa-and-premium-investor-visa-programmes