The Strategist

Hong Kong billionaires fleeing: Australia records increase in investment visas applications

08/26/2019 - 08:30

Australian immigration authorities report a significantly increased number of applications for investment visas from Hong Kong after the protests have started.

Lyn Lomasi
Lyn Lomasi
The Australian New South Wales State Immigration Authority has noted a significant increase in investment visa applications from Hong Kong residents, Reuters reports. Under Australian laws, investments in local businesses worth at least Australian $ 5 million ($ 3.4 million) give the applicant the right to obtain a residence permit in Australia. Such investment visas are in demand mainly among wealthy foreigners. The management letter said that interest from Hong Kong began to grow after the protests started there.

Forbes reports that there are 50 people with a fortune of more than $ 1 billion in Hong Kong with a population of 7.5 million people. According to Citibank, as of the beginning of 2018, there were 1 million people with a fortune of more than 1 million Hong Kong dollars ($ 130 thousand), and 68 dollar millionaires

Bill Fuggle, Sydney partner at Baker & McKenzie Law Firm, has confirmed to Reuters the growth of Australian investment visa applications: “I have heard from my clients that there is a clear increase in demand. Those who can afford an alternative plan of action are trying to do this.”

Australian realtors have also noted growing demand from Hong Kong residents. According to local media reports, buyers are particularly interested in real estate in Sydney and the Gold Coast (a seaside resort in Queensland).

The interest of wealthy Hong Kong residents to obtain a residence permit in Australia or to buy real estate there coincided with a decrease in business activity in Hong Kong since the start of the protests.

In early August, Hong Kong authorities said that, according to preliminary estimates, GDP in the second quarter grew by 0.6%. The figure turned out to be worse than experts' forecasts, which expected growth by 1.6%. This was the minimum growth of the economy over the past decade. Also unofficial information appeared that the Chinese Internet giant Alibaba decided to postpone the placement of its shares on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange due to ongoing unrest. This was reported by The Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed sources familiar with the situation.