Australia has launched an invite-only visa program that promises citizenship to rich American entrepreneurs — if they meet some hefty requirements.
Called the Premium Investment Visa scheme, Americans must first invest around 15 million Australian dollars (or $11.57 million) in exchange for the right to be called an Aussie. Would-be migrants can invest in anything except housing, and there are no residency requirements to meet, according to a report by Reuters.
The program marks a pivot by the Australian Trade Commission, which has traditionally used its visa programs to woo nearby Asians. More than 90% of the roughly 3,000 applicants for the country’s Significant Investor Visas, for instance, are Chinese.
Those in investment circles Down Under, however, believe the plan won’t get off the ground.
“The U.S. has some problems that Australia doesn’t have. It’s got a lot more racial crimes, it’s got a lot more gun-related crimes, but I don’t think that is going to drive a whole bunch of ultra-rich Americans out of their country,” Bill Fuggle, a partner at law firm Baker & McKenzie who advises rich Chinese migrating to Australia, told Reuters.
With this latest move, Australia is looking to improve its standing as a place for worthwhile investment from overseas businessmen. In a 2013 report by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, Australia placed in the top 10 countries worldwide for foreign direct investment inflows.
Rich Americans who do choose to make Australia their new home can join the likes of Steve Wozniak as notable entrepreneurs who have taken up Australian residency. “No country is perfect, but I like a lot of things about this place,” the Apple co-founder told the Australian Financial Review in an interview last December.