New Australian government visa for migrant investors into Australian funds – Significant Investor Visa

The Australian Government has announced a new visa pathway for migrant investors coming to Australia. The Significant Investor Visa (Visa) commenced on 24 November 2012. 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 Visa also provides an opportunity for Australian fund managers to access a new source of capital.

What are the benefits?

Previously, a migrant seeking investment migration in Australia would have to take an active role in order to obtain a visa. This included satisfying an innovation points test, an upper age limit test and also satisfying the English language requirement threshold. The Visa allows a migrant to be eligible by simply being a passive investor in Australia.

What are the key requirements?

Migrants will be required to invest AUD5 million into complying investments. Complying investments include:

  • Commonwealth, State or Territory government bonds;
  • an unlisted managed fund with a mandate for investing in Australia and operated by a holder of an AFS Licence issued by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission; and
  • direct investment into Australian proprietary companies.

The fund must be open to other investors, and invest in one of the following categories:

  • infrastructure projects in Australia;
  • cash held by Australian deposit taking institutions;
  • bonds issued by the Commonwealth or a State or Territory government;
  • bonds, equity, hybrids or other corporate debt in companies and trusts listed on the ASX;
  • bonds or term deposits issued by financial institutions;
  • real estate; and
  • agribusiness.

For a direct investment into an Australian proprietary company to qualify as a complying investment the following criteria must be met:

  • the company must genuinely operate a qualifying business in Australia;
  • the applicant must obtain an ownership interest in the company;
  • the company must be registered with ASIC; and
  • the business must have an Australian Business Number.

An investor must have a genuine intention to hold the investment for 4 years, and to reside in the Australian State or Territory that nominates the investor.

Additional State or Territory based requirements will apply depending on the target place of residence, including the NSW requirement that at least 30% of the AUD5 million is invested in NSW government Waratah bonds.

A permanent visa application may be lodged if, among other requirements, the migrant has held the investments for the life of the provisional visa.