The Australian government has officially terminated the Significant Investor Visa (SIV) scheme, commonly known as the Golden Visa program. This initiative, which permitted affluent foreign investors to secure residency through substantial financial investments, has been abolished due to its perceived shortcomings, as announced by Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil.
The Golden Visa program, introduced in 2012 under the leadership of Prime Minister Julia Gillard, was deemed a part of a flawed system inherited by the Australian Labor Party, according to a report from Visa Guide World.
Minister O’Neil stated that the decision to discontinue the program was a crucial step in the ongoing reforms aimed at creating a migration system that better aligns with the country’s needs and economic objectives.”For years, it has been evident that this visa is not delivering what our country and economy need from a migration system.
The investor visa is one of many aspects of the system which we are reforming to create a system that delivers for our country,” remarked Minister O’Neil.Australia’s Business Innovation and Investment Visa Scheme (BIIV), which encompasses the Business Innovation and Investment (Provisional) Visa (Subclass 188) and the Business Innovation and Investment (Permanent) Visa (Subclass 888), will now take center stage as the primary avenue for attracting investors, business owners, and entrepreneurs.The Subclass 188 visa is temporary, allowing international individuals to own and manage a business for four years without the offer of permanent residency.
The various streams under Subclass 188 include Business Innovation, Investor, Significant Investor, Premium Investor, and Entrepreneur.Meanwhile, the Subclass 888 visa serves as the permanent counterpart to Subclass 188. To qualify for Subclass 888, individuals must have held a Subclass 188 visa for a specified period and met the required conditions, providing a pathway to permanent residency.Since its inception, the Golden Visa program has seen thousands of visas granted, with a staggering 85 percent of successful applicants originating from China, according to government data.
The decision to terminate the program has been lauded by Clancy Moore, Chief Executive of Transparency International Australia, who emphasized concerns about the misuse of such schemes by corrupt officials and kleptocrats.”For far too long, corrupt officials and kleptocrats have used golden visas as a vehicle to park their illicit funds in Australia and arguably hide their proceeds of crime,” stated Moore.
Australia’s move follows a global trend, with several European Union countries also reassessing their residency and citizenship by investment schemes (RBI/CBI). The Financial Action Task Force and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) have raised concerns about the potential misuse of such schemes for money laundering, tax evasion, and other irregular activities. In 2022, the United Kingdom similarly discontinued a fast-track residency program for wealthy international individuals.