Significant investor visas to take up to nine months to process

The bounce to prestige property markets anticipated from the approval of signficant investor visas (SIV) could take a long time to filter through given very long processing times and a backlog of applications.

The Department of Immigration says that once it has developed the “organisational expertise for the new visa” it will take between six to nine months to process applications under a "business as usual" scenario.

Checks include assessing an applicants source of funds among a range of the usual background checks a spokesperson told Property Observer.

"The time to process each case will be different."

The department has revealed just two visas issued since the scheme was launched in November – one to a Chinese toymaker - with around 222 invitations issued to investors up to early June, 212 of them to Chinese investors.

The visas are available to offshore investors with at least $5 million to invest in approved schemes, which include Commonwealth, State or Territory government bonds, ASIC-regulated managed funds with a mandate for investing in Australia; and direct investment into Australian proprietary companies.

In NSW, applicants must invest a third of the $5 million in state government Waratah bonds, with the state hoping to use the scheme to fund infrastructure and road projects.

Direct property investments do not qualify, but Dominic Ong, who heads up a new Knight Frank special significant visa team specifically targeting wealthy Chinese investors, told Property Observer last month that he was showing Asian clients around some of the most expensive Sydney waterfront real estate.

The visas qualify the recipient with four-year’s residency without needing to be proficient in English or meet other traditional visa requirements. Following this period they can then apply for permanent residency.

Property Observer has previously written that the issuing of the first two visas had generated a seemingly disproportionate amount of press coverage with the Department of Immigration
seemingly in no hurry to approve applications despite a pipeline of more than 400 applications.

Larry Schlesinger

Larry Schlesinger

Larry Schlesinger was a property writer at Property Observer

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