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Stalled wealthy visa stream in Australia could see rules relaxed



Visa rules for wealthy people looking to move to Australia could be relaxed in a bid to attract more and clear a current back log of applications.Immigration News

Visa rules for wealthy people looking to move to Australia could be relaxed in a bid to attract more and clear a current back log of applications.

The Significant Investor visa was introduced 18 months ago with the specific aim of attracting more wealthy people to invest and live in Australia.

However, according to migration agents, the requirements are too strict and applications are taking too long to process.

Now the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) is again looking at the visa requirements to see if they can be amended.

Currently, overseas individuals who invest upwards of AUS $5 million are offered permanent residency for a minimum of a four year commitment. So far, the visa stream has proved popular with Chinese applicants; some 90% of applications have come from mainland China.

But out of the 1,497 applications received, only 286 have been processed. The delay is believed to have been caused by applicants’ reluctance to provide full financial information about their wealth and sources of funding to the Australian government.

A DIBP spokesman said the rules for this visa stream are being reviewed with any changes to be announced in November. The main consideration is that Australia does not want to attract individuals who may have made their millions from dubious or criminal activities.

'The purpose of the visa is to provide a boost to the Australian economy and to compete effectively for high net worth individuals seeking investment migration,' the DIBP spokesman added.

Finding the right balance will be a challenge at a time when China has launched a sweeping crackdown on corruption that has, among other things, targeted officials who transfer ill-gotten gains offshore, according to Jerry Gomez, a lawyer and registered migration agent.

At least 20% of applications are either withdrawn or rejected, largely for want of more disclosures on the sources of funding, said Bill Fuggle, a partner at law firm Baker & McKenzie.

'You don't want dirty money, but you also have to give a reasonable guideline about how to prove that money is not dirty. The government is now trying to do that. At the moment, it’s just a guess,' he added.

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