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Changes to the Significant Investor Visa & the introduction of a Premium Investor Visa.
On 14 October 2014 the Australian Government announced the creation of the new Premium Investor Visa (‘PIV’). The PIV expands on the requirements of the existing Significant Investor Visa by requiring an investment of $15 million. Compliance with the investment requirements for 12 months will allow the applicant eligibility to apply for permanent residency at the end of the 12 month period.

The PIV will be introduced as an additional stream under the Business Innovation and Investment Program (‘BIIP’) (Subclass 188).  The new stream will:

1. require investment of $15 million into complying investments, into either:


(a)         Commonwealth, State or territory government bonds;
(b)         Australian Securities and Investment Commission regulated managed funds with a mandate for investing in  Australia; or
(c)         direct investment into Australian proprietary companies;


 2. have no residency requirement; and


 3. involve nomination by the Australian Government’s trade, investment and education promotion agency, Austrade.


 

In its role as nominating entity, Austrade will be given a higher degree of involvement in the PIV process namely in determining eligibility of the proposed investments. The Government has proposed that the PIV will be introduced from 1 July 2015 and will be applicable to those applicants with a high enough net worth to meet the $15 million investment threshold over a 12 month period. In contrast, the existing Significant Investment Visa (‘SIV’) requires applicants to invest $5 million over a four year period. During the four year period applicants hold a provisional visa (Subclass 188) before they are eligible to apply for permanent residence in Australia. Applicants under this stream of the BIIP are able to withdraw their investment at the end of the four year term whilst still remaining eligible for permanent residency. It is yet to be confirmed as to whether the new PIV 12 month pathway to permanent residency will require the applicant to continue their investment past the one year term.

 

In addition to the introduction of the PIV as an additional stream under the BIIP, changes will be implemented to the SIV as a result of a government report published in September 2014. The changes to the SIV include the following:

 (i)          A residency requirement in Australia of 180 days per year for secondary SIV applicants will be introduced. The current requirement is only applicable to the primary applicant in that they must reside in Australia for a cumulative period of 160 days during the four year period. It is hoped that this change will encourage families of investors to settle permanently in Australia, bringing with them business and investment acumen whilst ensuring applicants and theirs families are genuine in their commitment to the Australian economy;


(ii)        Changes to various requirements to allow role swapping in terms of the role of  main investor between primary and secondary applicants during the provisional stage in order to meet the aforementioned residency requirements; and


 (iii)       The requirement that complying investments remain unencumbered for the entire duration of the provisional visa (Subclass 188).


 

It should be noted that none of the above changes will apply to current SIV holders or current SIV applications.
The report recommendations will be implemented progressively during 2014-2015. Changes requiring legislative amendments, more particularly the introduction of the PIV are expected to come into effect from 1 July 2015.

Ramsden Lawyers will continue to monitor and provide progress updates on the BIIP, changes to the SIV and the introduction of the PIV for potential applicants throughout the implementation of the report recommendations.  If you are interested in gaining further information in regards to the above visa pathways, please feel free to contact Mr Oliver Jones of our office on 07 55 921 921.