For the first half of 2020, Australia’s residency by investment program showed poor performance.
Approval rates went down by 40%. Most resulted from COVID-19 issues that led to critical government measures.
They included closed borders, travel bans, and lockdowns.
But Australia isn’t the only country experiencing drops in approval rates. For example, the US consulate presented a 47% drop in E2 visa approval rates throughout 2020.
Countries like South Korea, Spain, and Saint Lucia are also showing similar trends. While some like Spain have world-renowned programs, their approval rates have dropped drastically.
But the worst performing of them all is Greece’s golden visa, with approval rates dropping by 90% throughout 2020.
Which RCBI Countries are Performing Well?
The Portugal Golden Visa seems to be averaging well. Its stats in 2020 were similar to previous years, so at minimum, it seems to have kept its approval rates intact.
However, the beginning of 2021 has shown a sharp drop in Portuguese approvals. This comes with a massive infection wave that’s still sweeping through the country.
Regardless, some countries are registering rises in approval rates, those being Grenada and Thailand.
The Consequences for Australia
The Australian government’s restrictive measures have succeeded at curtailing a country-wide infection.
But thus far, those restrictions are affecting the country negatively. They’ve severely cut down the foreign investments that it regularly receives per year.
Also, the Australian Business Innovation and Investment stream is doing poorly, especially its Significant Investor Visa sub option.
In fact, between June 30th 2019 to 2020, Australia had 427 investors, with total raised capital of A$680 million.
The overwhelming majority of those funds were gained before the mobility restrictions went into effect.
In the four months following that, only 11 investors were accepted, a much lower rate than the preceding year.
What About the BIIP as a Whole?
The program as a while hasn’t been doing that well. The whole program’s performance dropped by 40% compared to the year before it.
In fact, the 2019 to 2020 fiscal year saw 4420 visas. The 2018 to 2019 year saw 7261.
A huge implication in the approval drops is processing times. Data shows that application processing had almost stopped entirely by 2020’s second quarter.
This has led to the growth of backlogs, a problem that the Australian government is eager to resolve.
And it is. Alan Tudge (Australia’s Minister for Immigration) announced a doubling of investor visas in October last year.
This should be good news, especially with the Ministry admitting how vital the program is to creating jobs and economic recovery in the midst of the pandemic.
With a doubling of visa quotas, we’d expect to see a clearing of some 20,000 unprocessed and backlogged applications – a queue which may grow rapidly in 2021.
Obstacles to Note
While doubling visa quotas is good news, Australia is planning to cut down its program options from nine to four.
The minimum required capital is also going up for some categories.
This might incentivize investors to join fast before the new raises. Though we don’t expect the minimum hikes to affect application rates that much.