In a recent move, the Australian government has decided to scrap its Significant Investor Visas (SIVs), commonly known as “Golden Visa” This decision marks a shift in focus toward enhancing the skilled workforce in the country.
Golden Visa: Controversial from the Start
Since launching in 2012, the golden visa program allowed wealthy individuals to secure permanent residency by investing a minimum of AU$5m in Australia. Over several years, this initiative attracted thousands of investors, predominantly from China. However, amidst growing criticism, Clare O’Neil, the minister for home affairs, announced that these visas have not been delivering expected benefits for Australia’s economy.
Impact on Economy and Public Services
Concerns arose when evidence suggested that these wealthy migrants were not significantly contributing to the economy via taxes or business acumen. Furthermore, according to the Grattan Institute, these investors were costing more in public services than their tax contributions offset. A Treasury report reinforced these findings, indicating that on average, each golden visa holder was costing Australia AU$120,000 more than their lifetime tax payments.
Shifting Gears to Skilled Migrants
Now under scrutiny, Australia’s government has pledged to reallocate its efforts to cater more to skilled workers—an approach seen as more beneficial to the economy. Officials referenced reviews pointing out skilled migrants’ considerable economic contributions compared to golden visa investors.
International Context and Scrutiny of Wealth-Based Visa Schemes
The Australian case mirrors an international trend where countries reassess their approaches to immigration and invest-based residency permits. Notably, the United Kingdom discontinued similar fast-track residency options for rich investors due to rising concerns about unscrupulous sources of funds.
With this decisive action, Australia aims at enhancing its workforce with talented individuals who possess strong business expertise and are likely to make substantial economic contributions.