The introduction of Australia’s new Significant Investment Visa is attracting considerable attention in China but confusion still remains as to its implementation, writes Carl Jetter.
Prior to my last China trip in March this year, the ACBC Victoria branch arranged a forum, inviting representatives from the federal and Victorian state governments to present and update our business community on developments on the much-anticipated Significant Investor Visa.
The large audience, representing various industries, such as fund managers, developers, manufacturers, migration agents, legal firms – to name a few, had the opportunity to ask questions, but the answers were not so clear cut, as the government representatives, in particular from federal government, confirmed that the new visa is a new product and still needs some fine tuning and time to get established.
Government officials confirmed that there have been several hundred expressions of interest posted on the official website with a large percentage already receiving responses.
The visa came into effect in November 2012, and yet, to date, no SIV has been completed at this stage. Many are asking why not?
There are several reasons.
Some of the relevant migration visa government departments have confirmed that the new process for the SIV is ‘a work in progress’ – meaning that the processing procedure needs improving.
At the same time, some of these government departments, along with various financial institutions, fund managers, developers, and migration agents are now in China selling the SIV to the Chinese high net-worth community. And that’s understandable, even though I feel the product they are out there selling ought to be ready to use and not just ‘almost ready’.
What is being ignored though, is who are the customers we are dealing with?
At a recent presentation to the ACBC Victoria in Melbourne, Victorian Commissioner for China and Hong Kong, Patrick Stringer nipped the debate in the bud when he suggested the affluent Chinese ready to spare A$5 million to apply for a Permanent Residency visa, would already need to be worth, in their own right, $10 to $50 million dollars.
Therefore the majority of theses SIV applicants may express genuine interest, but that does not necessarily mean that they need to, or even want to buy, but rather that they are taking the time to look around for what is available.
During my trip I met with such interested parties in Beijing and Chengdu and I discussed the SIV opportunities with a number of experienced migration agencies focusing on Australia.
They all confirmed that there is interest, but at the same time, these high-net worth Chinese seeking overseas residency are also looking at opportunities offered by other countries for often, less money and resulting in faster processing times in gaining permanent residency or citizenship.
A lot of window-shopping it would seem to me for these super rich Chinese who can browse around until they find the best deal. And Australia, at this point in time is yet to develop the best strategy in attracting these high calibre would-be immigrants.
I believe that the SIV can be successful – the timing is right – but the processing needs to be streamlined, less complicated and it requires a marketing edge to successfully compete with the permanent residency visas being offered by other countries.
If Australia does not step up to the mark, we may not achieve the results so many are expecting – to attract the very best entrepreneurs out of China. ■
Publisher, Australia China Connections
*The August September 2013 issue of Australia China Connections will look at the growing number of financial solutions being offered to Chinese business migrants as they apply for migration to Australia – especially the implementation and investment opportunities for Chinese applicants of the Significant Investor Visa.
The Significant Investor Visa in particular has generated much interest from Chinese would be migrants since it came into effect in November 2012 – but finding ways to channel minimum investments of A$5 million into Australia is paving the way for new financial solutions from Australian banks and other organisations.
For more information on advertising opportunities in this special SIV issue, please contact Carl Jetter in Australia:
T: +61 (0)3 9650 1598