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188 Visa: Golden Ticket

188 Visa: Golden Ticket

A “radical reshaping” of Australia’s 188 Visa: Golden Ticket program has left Chinese millionaires in limbo.

In 2018 Paul Wang left his home in Beijing to start a new life in Australia. Mr Wang invested $1 million in a food processing business. Mr Wang hoped of qualifying for permanent residency under the country’s investment visa scheme.

Five years on, his hopes for his family of three remain on hold. The government has put the controversial “golden ticket visa” program on the back burner. This has caused the processing times to blow out, leaving wealthy migrants like Mr Wang in limbo.

“We were not expecting it would take this long,” said Mr Wang, 44. “And our life is a mess because of that. We simply cannot plan ahead with all of the uncertainty.”

When Australia introduced the Business Innovation and Investment Program (BIIP) in 2012, the hope was that wealthy business owners, investors, and entrepreneurs would boost the economy by bringing in capital and driving innovation.

The results, though, have been underwhelming. A government review published in March found BIIP migrants contributed less to the economy than the average Australian. The cohort, despite their wealth, tended to be older and earned lower incomes through capital returns on passive investments.

The review estimated the lifetime economic contribution of BIIP holders at $600,000, less than half the $1.6 million of Australians.

After coming to power 13 months ago, the federal government shifted priority to easing shortages of critical skilled workers. Partly as a result, most BIIP permanent visas are taking nearly three years to process, up from a previous average of around 12 months, and in addition to an investment cycle of four to five years.

Mr Wang has been waiting 21 months.

Similar investment visa schemes have been scrapped in Canada, Britain, and Singapore as governments conclude they do not create jobs and could be a means to park speculative money.

Every category of Australian visas experienced a backlog during COVID-19. As the pandemic has eased, the government has cut processing times overall, but the wait for more than 3,000 BIIP holders and their families – many Chinese – has only lengthened.

Some BIIP applicants protested in Sydney and Melbourne on Friday against the government’s policy shift, a rarity as Chinese migrants largely avoid public dissent.

Asked about the visa delays, the Department of Home Affairs said in an emailed statement the government would process all visas in line with priority and planning levels, declining to comment on the complaints from BIIP holders.

It said a new migration strategy would be released later this year, which would include “radically reshaping” the BIIP program.

The above article is from the SBS article:

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