Under a new government proposal to encourage foreign investment, the Australian government is putting citizenship to its country up for sale. Called the “significant investor visa”, the program lets foreigners settle in Australia for up to four years, in exchange for a minimum A$5 million investment during their stay. “The money can be placed in federal or state bonds, managed funds, Australian companies, or in a combination of those assets. Applicants, if successful, are allowed later to apply for a permanent visa. There is no upper limit on the number of special visas the government can grant.”
What’s the Big Idea?
While the move is clearly meant to attract investment, the rights a country supplies its citizens have not traditionally been for sale. Australia’s Immigration Minister Brendan O’Connor said last week: “Australia is in active competition with other countries across our region for successful, high-wealth individuals and the capital and business acumen that comes with them.” Chinese investors are expected to be the most frequent takers of the program. The Aussie government has even created a special subclass of visas called “888”, a number which many Chinese associate with wealth.