Visa lure to attract rich Chinese migrants

NSW has stepped up the battle to attract rich Chinese migrants, making it easier to get a visa to settle in Sydney and start a business.

Under the significant investor visa, introduced in November 2012, entrepreneurs can get a four-year renewable residency visa if they invest $5 million in Australia.

The businessperson must be in Australia for only 160 days across the four years, there is no age limit and applicants don't have to satisfy the skill-based points test.

However, the application must be sponsored by a state government, which allows it to specify criteria to attract these highly valued migrants.

Deputy Premier Andrew Stone will announce at an industry event in Sydney today that NSW's business investment criteria has been reduced.

A requirement to spend $3m if establishing a business in Sydney will be reduced to $1.5m, and from $2m to $1m for businesses established in regional NSW.

As well, requirements on the total funds to be transferred to cover business investment and settling expenses will be relaxed, dropping from $4m to $3m in Sydney and from $2.5m to $2m in regional areas.

The move is designed to compete with Victoria, which has marketed itself in China to business migrants and has less specific or onerous conditions.

Victoria assesses applicants on a case-by-case basis taking into consideration their potential contribution to the state economy, their broader business agenda and their settlement intentions, as well as if they have "previously visited Victoria and gained an appreciation of both the business environment and lifestyle".

Queensland requires applicants to invest $2.5m in a business if it is Brisbane or the Gold Coast, which creates at least five jobs, with higher thresholds for property development businesses.

To compete with Queensland, NSW has abolished a requirement for those seeking investor retirement visas to commit to a business.

Applicants for either visa still have to fulfil the federal government requirements, which for significant investor visas include investing $5m in approved Australian-based investments.

NSW requires that $1.5m of this $5m be invested in state government Waratah bonds, which are used to finance the state's infrastructure program. From applicants approved so far, more than 90 per cent were from China. - The Australian

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