Budget 2018: Retirement visa holders to have a permanent visa pathway before being abolished

The Federal Budget always throws up a couple of surprises in the immigration portfolio. Last night’s budget was no exception.

The surprise is that Subclass 405 - Investor Retirement and the now repealed Subclass 410 – Retirement visa holders will have a pathway to a permanent visa in the new fiscal year. Permanent visa numbers for this cohort will be taken from the Subclass 103 - Parent and Subclass 143 – Contributory Parent visas.

This comes after a lot of lobbying from oversees retirees who have been in Australia for many years and who have channeled large sums of money into designated investments without any prospect of remaining in Australia permanently.

There is, however, also bad news with the good. Once established, the Subclass 405 - Investor Retirement visa will close to new applicants. This will effectively leave only the Significant Investor visa or Premium Investor visa streams under the Subclass 188 - Business Innovation and Investment (Provisional) visa and its equivalent Subclass 888 - Business Innovation and Investment (Permanent) visa as the only visas where investing funds in Australia without a soft age cap is available. While the investment and income requirements differ, retirees will face a significant jump in the necessary funds for these applications.

The Budget also announced additional refund provisions for the Skilling Australia Fund Levy, which is now ever so close to being established as the Senate finally agreed to passing the relevant bills yesterday. Refunds will be available to sponsors when a visa holder does not commence work, if the visa holder leaves their employer within the first 12 months of employment (partial refund only), and where the visa application is refused on health or character grounds. This is in addition to refund provisions as part of the bill. Religious organisations will be wholly exempt from the levy.