The Australian government has officially ended its “golden visa” program, which granted wealthy investors the right to reside in the country. The decision to discontinue the special visa initiative was based on the program’s failure to deliver desired economic outcomes. Critics had raised concerns about the scheme being exploited by corrupt officials to park illicit funds.
The special visa, known as the Significant Investor Visa (SIV), was introduced in 2012 to attract foreign business and investment. Applicants were required to invest over A$5 million in Australia to qualify for the program. However, after multiple reviews, the government concluded that the scheme did not meet its core objectives and decided to replace it with a focus on creating more visas for skilled migrants capable of making substantial contributions to Australia.
The move has been welcomed by transparency advocates, including Clancy Moore, the CEO of Transparency International Australia. Moore emphasized the need to address the misuse of golden visas for parking illicit funds and hiding proceeds of crime, asserting that the program had served as a vehicle for corrupt officials and kleptocrats.
Australia’s decision to end the golden visa program aligns with a global trend, as the UK also scrapped a similar scheme in 2022 due to concerns about the influx of illicit Russian money. The move reflects a broader scrutiny of golden visa initiatives worldwide, with Malta facing investigations over speedy citizenship grants to wealthy non-European Union nationals.
The government’s decision to terminate the program was supported by findings from a government inquiry, which highlighted potential loopholes, vulnerabilities, and the risk of money laundering associated with the golden visa system. The inquiry also raised concerns about the visas bringing individuals with less business acumen into Australia while offering tax concessions that were costly for the public.
The move underscores a commitment to ensuring the integrity of immigration programs and preventing their misuse for illegal financial activities. Australia joins other nations in reevaluating such programs to address vulnerabilities and enhance transparency in the process of attracting foreign investment.