Australia dangles 'golden ticket' visa for the rich

Aimed at Asian investors, it draws criticism amid refugee crackdown

 
An office worker walks past the Sydney Opera House as she leaves Sydney's CBD on Sept 26, 2012. Australia is rolling out the red carpet for up to 7,000 wealthy migrants with a so-called "golden ticket" visa aimed at business people in Asia. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

SYDNEY - Australia is rolling out the red carpet for up to 7,000 wealthy migrants with a so-called "golden ticket" visa aimed at business people in Asia.

The new Significant Investor visa grants permanent residency without the usual conditions - as long as the applicant has at least A$5 million (S$6.4 million) to invest.

The investors will probably form only a tiny proportion of Australia's migrants, but the government is already facing criticism for opening the door to the wealthy while cracking down on boat people.

Applicants for the new visa do not need to pass the usual English requirements, can be of any age, do not need to have specific education levels or business skills, and need to live in Australia only 40 days a year for four years.

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