Australia to review migrants rule for Chinese millionaires, other applicants; data shows they boost property markets

By on
A Visa sign is seen on a cashier's desk at a restaurant in Yangon January 31, 2013.
A Visa sign is seen on a cashier's desk at a restaurant in Yangon January 31, 2013. Reuters/Soe Zeya Tun

A government official declared on Wednesday that Australia would review visa rules for millionaire would-be migrants as part of the country’s efforts to tighten policies in applying for residency rights. Last year, over 11,000 “migrant millionaires,” mostly Chinese, helped boost the property markets in Sydney and Melbourne as they travel to enjoy the Australian lifestyle.

The announcement comes following the Malcolm Turnbull administration’s decision to axe a temporary work visa program used by foreigners. It was replaced with a tougher program and raised the bar for applying for Australian citizenship.

The Australian reported last week that Immigration Minister Peter Dutton is reviewing the role of foreign property investment in the market. The minister was reportedly considering a recommendation to scrap investor visa, which was intended to draw wealthy venture investors to the country, but was slammed as a fast-track to Australian residency.

Almost 90 percent of applicants for the Significant Investor Visas are Chinese people. Assistant Immigration Minister Alex Hawke said the focus is to meet the needs of Australians. He told Chinese in a seminar in Sydney that they could send their feedback to the review and that their comments would be considered by the department.

Hawke did not mention a specific policy under review, but hinted it has something to do with English proficiency. “The expectation from the Australian community is that migrants have competent English," Reuters quoted him saying, adding he though that’s fair.

Several wealthy Chinese apply for Australian residency for a better lifestyle. Some seek to avoid the onslaught of corruption in their home country. Real estate agents share that Chinese people are attracted to the country’s climate and clear air, as well as health and education systems.

Malcolm Gunning, Real Estate Institute national president, says the Chinese people prefer “prestige housing” in the two main capital cities. They target homes worth up to $20 million near select schools. “What we are seeing now is Sydney and Melbourne are absolutely global cities, great places to live and so they will live in Australia and run a business in China,” he said.

In 2015, Australia tightened rules under Significant Investor Visas by requiring would-be Australians to invest in small-cap and venture capital funds but barred from direct property investment. The program started in 2012 and granted 1746 visas since then, attracting investment of $8.7 billion. Since the coalition declared the initial changes, only 136 visas were granted since mid-2015.

India Today/YouTube

Read more: List of schools to have their funding cut under Turnbull government

Kensington Palace confirms Prince Harry's second official visit to Australia