Wealthy residents of Hong Kong looking to escape the political turmoil in the territory are eyeing Australia's Significant Investor Visa (SIV) programme as a safety net, Reuters has reported.
The SIV programme offers full residency to foreign investors who put at least A$5m ($3.4m) into Australian start-up businesses. The treasury department of one Australian state, New South Wales, this week circulated a letter to migration agents noting a "significant increase in applications" from Hong Kong, although the actual numbers remain modest.
Bill Fuggle, Sydney-based partner at law firm Baker & McKenzie, said there had been a rise in applicants for the A$5m SIV program. "What I am hearing from my clients is there definitely has been an uptick in the number of SIV applications from Hong Kong," Fuggle told Reuters.
Anybody who can make an alternate plan is trying to do so"
"Anybody who can make an alternate plan is trying to do so."
So far, Australia's SIV programme has relied heavily on investors from mainland China. Some 87% of the 2022 SIV visas granted between November 2012 and June 2018 went to Chinese residents, with Hong Kong second at only 3.2% (about 65 individuals).
"Money is also moving out but Australia is probably not your first choice to park wealth...it's a high tax jurisdiction. I suspect we'll get more people than money here," Baker & McKenzie's Fuggle said.
In the letter, the department assured agents it was committed to providing "appropriate support" to help them discuss migration options with their clients.