Australia’s first Significant Investor Visa (SIV)

1 Jul 2013 12:35 PM - JUSTIN K. RICKARD

MR. JUSTIN RICKARD, principal lawyer and Chinese migration expert at, welcomes news of Australia’s first Significant Investor Visa (SIV) approval to a Chinese toy manufacturer and his young family sponsored by the Victorian government.

Just a little over month after being in China simultaneously with Prime Minister Gillard’s China visit, Mr. Rickard applauds Australia’s initiative to create a stronger and more comprehensive relationship with China. This started again November 2012 with the much lauded Significant Investor Visa program, which has already received over 170 applications in less than 5 months.

With each visa applicant investing at least $5M this already totals a potential $850 million for Australia, all of it from China so far, and over $4 billion more is expected this year alone. China is Australia’s largest trading partner with two-way goods and services trade worth $128 billion in 2011-12.

China is also Australia’s largest source of overseas students, with around 150,000 enrolments in 2012, and the second largest source of overseas visitors, with more than 626,000 arrivals in 2012. The $102 billion Chinese spent in 2012 also made them the largest spenders on international tourism, a 40.5% increase from the $73 billion spent in 2011, according to UNWTO.

The first SIV approval also comes at a strategic time. Mr. Rickard, expert migration adviser to Chinese since 1992, notes that there are many opportunities now for Chinese to co-invest with Australian businesses in many diverse fields, including agriculture, where already non-bank finance solutions to capital raising are being developed with Chinese migrant investors in mind.

Chinese investment could well break economic straight jacket that Australia’s small population places on industries such as dairy, where a virtual duopoly exists with the two big supermarket chains in power.

China has over one million millionaires and close to 200 billionaires, and being a high savings economy with a rising middle class, more and more high net worth individuals or capital rich companies are now looking to international markets for new investment opportunities.

There are over 160 cities in China with a population over one million, whilst just Shanghai and Beijing together have almost twice Australia’s total population. There is no shortage of opportunities, as long as cultural and language barriers are carefully managed. Australia’s SIV program is poised to capitalise on this opportunity with this first approval now granted.

Mr. Rickard recommends all Australian businesses should fully explore developing business opportunities with Chinese investors now that the new SIV visa exists. He advises Australian businesses should also go to China themselves (he will soon be leading investment tours there) to fully appreciate the sheer scale and scope of the population and how business is done in Asia at some of the most sophisticated levels that now exist globally.