CANBERRA – In a major policy shift, the authorities in Australia have decided to halt their golden visa program which granted wealthy foreign investors the right to reside in the country.
The government cited “unsatisfactory economic outcomes” associated with the Significant Investor Visas (SIV) and recently announced to focus more on the skill-based visa.
The primary goal of the Significant Investor Visa (SIV) was to encourage investment and foster innovation within the country.
To qualify for this visa, candidates were required to invest 5 million Australian dollars (1AU$ = approximately 184.39PKR) in Australia.
However, the visa program faced severe criticism within the country due to allegations of increased corruption and facilitation of wealthy foreign nationals parking illegal funds in Australia.
As far as the beneficiaries of the program are concerned, data from the Australian government highlighted a notable presence of Chinese investors, with 85% of successful SIV applicants originating from China.
The Australian Minister of Home Affairs, Clare O’Neil stated that it has been evident for years that this visa is not meeting the needs of our country and economy.
What prompted the suspension of the program along with other factors is an inquiry conducted by the Australian government which revealed not only the misuse of the program but also highlighted its tendency to permit individuals with insufficient business acumen to reside in the country, thereby failing to deliver the anticipated results from such affluent investors.
With the latest move, Australia has joined a list of European countries, including the United Kingdom (UK), in discontinuing similar programs due to concerns about the influx of illicit funds. The UK terminated its investment-driven residency initiative in 2022 over fears that money launderers from Russia were exploiting the program to establish residency in the UK.
Countries like Ireland and Portugal have already ended their Golden Visa programs on requests by the European Union and other players who believe that the program opens a window for wealthy individuals to exploit the system and gain residency.
The move by Australia might trigger other countries to do away with their Golden Visa programs which were once very popular but are now generating concerns on a widespread level.