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‘It’s a mess’: migration agents cry foul after Australia clarifies ‘golden visa’ scheme remains active

Two weeks ago, local media reports said the visa – referring to the formally known Significant Investor Visa (SIV) that confers the right of abode to foreign nationals who can invest A$5 million (US$3.3 million) in the country over a period, had been closed.

According to the Migration Institute of Australia (MIA), the country’s main association for migration professionals, this effectively spread misinformation, causing “widespread panic” among visa holders, applicants and agents.

They said there was little direct information from the government, and the usual allocation of visa slots for the programme had been changed without warning.

While agents in Australia acknowledged that the SIV could be improved, they criticised the way local reports had insinuated that applicants could gain instant residency simply by having enough money.

In fact, applicants need to invest their money into stipulated investments for at least four years and fulfil conditions before being given residency, the MIA said.

“It is extremely concerning that the media would publish an article like this without checking the facts,” MIA chief executive Helen Duncan said last week, adding that it was an example of media sensationalism.

A representative from Australia’s home affairs department told This Week in Asia the Business Innovation and Investment Programme (BIIP), which included the SIV, had not been closed.

But as the government was considering the design of a new Talent and Innovation visa to replace the BIIP, in line with the administration’s new migration strategy, the department had not provided allocations for new visa applications.

“The department continues to process all valid BIIP visa applications currently on-hand, in line with annual allocations