Changes to the SIV (Significant Investor Visa) programme

On the 14th October, the Australian government released a joint media statement by Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Minister for Industry Ian McFarlane and Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Scott Morrison. The media release on the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection’s website entitles the release: “Reforming skilled migration to improve Australia’s competitiveness” The release deals with three main issues:

  1. An overview of what we can expect in changes to the 457 programme
  2. An overview of what we can expect in changes to the SIV programme, and rough time frames, and
  3. The high-level announcement of the Premium Investor Visa or ‘PIV’, and the dates of commencement
An overview of what we can expect in changes to the SIV programme

The Significant Investor Visa (SIV) was introduced by Minister Chris Bowen, whilst he was the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship. The programme has been heralded a success by both Labour and Liberal governments, however it appears that it has been ‘more’ successful under the present Liberal/National coalition with over $2.18bn invested into Australia through the programme as at the 30th September (please see here for a more specific post on stats). The coalition government announced a review into the programme in March this year, which received a wide array of submissions. Whilst the review made numerous recommendations, the following outcomes have been endorsed by the government:

Some of these changes constitute, in our opinion, major changes in the SIV programme. The introduction of Austrade as the primary policy director in what constitutes a ‘complying investment’ should be applauded as it is better resourced than the Immigration portfolio for such endeavours. The allowing of ‘role swapping’ was something the states had been speaking about for some time, as it appeared the lack of this option acted as an inhibitor for some investors. However, the introduction of a 180 day residency requirement for secondary applicants has some people concerned that high level international investors may be discouraged to look at Australia knowing that they must have their families resident here for a good half of the year. On this point, the following is taken from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection’s “Investment visa review” FAQ fact sheet: “A 180 day per year residency requirement will be introduced for secondary SIV applicants. This will encourage the families of investors to settle permanently in Australia, bringing with them their business and investment acumen. It will also ensure that applicants and their families are genuine in their commitment to contribute to the Australian economy.” The following is a portion of the media release: “at present, SIVs are available for applicants having an eligible investment in Australia of A$5 million, for a minimum of four years. The Government will reform the programme to encourage more high net worth individuals to make Australia home and to leverage and better direct additional foreign investment, while maintaining safeguards to ensure the migration programme is not misused. Changes will include:

Whilst specific ‘dates’ have not been announced, changes are expected to be implemented over the 2014-15 migration year.

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