Think Tank Wants To Sell Visas To Highest Bidders

The right to move to Australia may no longer depend on family ties and job skills, but who can bid the highest for a visa.

The Australian government is considering putting a price on citizenship for expats following a review of immigration services.

A report suggests that millions of pounds could be shaved off the cost of administrating immigration by cutting jobs, while more cash could be raised from expats who would pay for the right to settle in the country.

The scheme was dreamed up by the Productivity Commission, an independent government think-tank, in the report Migrant Intake Into Australia

Lottery for expats

The government asked the commission to specifically investigate charging expats to stay in Australia providing that:

  • Any requirements relating to skills and family connections are ignored
  • Checking expats health, character and security would remain
  • All expats would have the right to work in Australia
  • Expats would have limited access to social security, education, housing and healthcare

Besides setting a scale of charges for expats moving to Australia, the think-tank also proposes an immigration lottery along the lines of the US draw for a green card.

The commission suggests pricing for visas and residency should rely on supply and demand.

Either by setting a price and letting demand from expats determine how many immigrants are allowed to enter the country each year or setting a limit on the number of expats and auctioning the places off to the highest bidders.

Another radical recommendation is letting expats into Australia on pay-as-you-go visas that allow them to repay immigration charges from future earnings.

Not government policy yet

“The government should be aware that our view is these are controversial proposals and go against the grain of current immigration rules into Australia,” said a spokesman for the commission.

“Having a price-based immigration system will also change the mix of society in Australia as entry will no longer depend on work skills the country needs but who can raise enough money to pay the entry fees.”

The price suggested for securing a visa to live and work in Australia is suggested as AUS$50,000 (£26,621).

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has explained that the report is not government policy but part of a wide-ranging review of immigration.

“We want to look at the possibilities available that might improve the system for everyone, but no one should expect any major changes in our immigration system in the near future,” he said.

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