The Significant Investor Stream Visa: Why you should care

by Mackenzie McCarty17 Dec 2012

Mandarin lessons may be a savvy way for Australian brokers to get ahead, if the federal government’s new Significant Investor Steam Visa (SISV) lives up to expectations.

The SISV, finalised late last month, allows certain wealthy immigrants to skip over skilled migration requirements, such as being proficient in English, provided they plan to invest at least $5 million in an ASIC regulated managed investment fund or certain other specified areas.

This includes investment in infrastructure projects, government bonds – and/or Australian real estate.

While the initial property investments aren’t likely to have much of an impact on the home loan industry –much of it will no doubt go towards procuring high-end hotels and resorts – analysts have pointed out that many of these new immigrants will need to buy homes in Australia.

In fact, some sectors of the property market are already seeing the effects.

In an article for real estate publication Property Observer, Sandie Dunne, who runs prestige property specialist Dunne Mosman, says the new legislation has already started to impact a number of top end sales, particularly in and around Sydney.

“There has been rise in enquiry for high priced properties which have languished on the market for a while.”

The launch of the new visa, which officially went into commission last month, has primarily procured the interest of Asian property investors, for many of whom the English language skills required under other visas proved a road block.

Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) requirements still have to be met, however, though most commercial enterprises have a significant financial threshold prior to requiring FIRB approval.

These thresholds vary depending partly on the nationality of the investor. According to Property Observer, Americans have the highest threshold at $1.062 billion for most investments, while non-US investors are faced with $5-244 million thresholds.