Australia’s entire Business Innovation and Investment Program – which includes the Business Innovation, Investor, Significant Investor, Premium Investor, and Entrepreneur streams – has unceremoniously closed to new applications, according to an exclusive report in The Australian.
More than 100,000 foreign nationals have used one of the BIIP streams to gain residency in Australia over the last 15 years, and the Significant Investor Visa (SIV) alone has raised some AUD 12 billion since opening in 2012.
The government indicates it plans to replace the BIIP streams with amplified quotas for skilled worker visas, which, according to the government, will be more economically beneficial to Australia in the long run.
The sudden closure of the program follows allegations from Australian media outlets indicating Chinese criminals and corrupt regime officials had used the BIIP scheme to gain citizenship in Australia, as well as a research report from the Grattan Institute, a policy think tank, which had indicated that allocating more visas to skilled workers rather than investors would help the state raise some A$120 billion in additional tax revenue over the next 30 years.
The institute's economic policy program director, Brendan Coates, welcomed the news and described the BIIP as "the single worst part of Australia's skilled migration program," and one that "has tended to attract older, less-skilled migrants that end up costing Australian taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars in the long run in pension and other health costs that far exceed any tax they pay over their lives in Australia."
Scuttling the program and reallocating those visa spots to skilled workers would, he commented, "pay an enormous fiscal and economic dividend to Australia."
A Migration Review earlier this year had found that skilled worker migrants contributed some A$300,000 more to public coffers over their lifetime than Business Innovator residents. Reports did not indicate whether the review had only considered fiscal benefits to Australia or also the private sector economic benefits arising from the investments and the consumption of investor migrants.
A new Talent and Innovation Visa, said the government, will now create a streamlined pathway "to attract relatively small numbers of highly talented migrants to Australia, such as high-performing entrepreneurs, major investors, and global researchers."
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Christian Henrik Nesheim is the founder and editor of Investment Migration Insider, the #1 magazine - online or offline - for residency and citizenship by investment. He is an internationally recognized expert, speaker, documentary producer, and writer on the subject of investment migration, whose work is cited in the Economist, Bloomberg, Fortune, Forbes, Newsweek, and Business Insider. Norwegian by birth, Christian has spent the last 16 years in the United States, China, Spain, and Portugal.