Gathering momentum recently is a petition in change.org to allow the holders of the now defunct retirement visa (sc410) to be considered for permanent resident visas.
Currently, the estimated 3000 holders of retirement visa have no rights to a permanent resident visa in Australia, regardless of how long they have been in Australia. A media release from BERIA, a voluntary organisation for retirement visa holders estimates that many its members have lived here for a long time with at least 100 retirees having lived here for over 20 years. David Humphries, Policy Adviser for BERIA, said that BERIA is mounting a direct campaign and petition asking that the Government allow retirement visa holders who have lived in Australia for at least 10 years to apply for permanent residency.
‘We believe that that this is a reasonable request,’ he said, ‘and totally in keeping with the spirit of the Australian notion of “a fair go”. Mr Humphries said BERIA has been campaigning for 8 years but has only received assurances from both sides of politics that retirement visa holders would be granted permanent residency. “But we’re no nearer achieving permanent residency than we were eight years ago. Politicians have been willing to give words of support, but unwilling to take action,” he said.
The main argument against permanent residency is the cost of health care to which most visa holders are not currently eligible. However, Mr Humphries argues that the Government has never balanced this cost against the additional tax benefits to Australia that permanent residency will bring. He says, “Currently retirement visa holders, do not pay Australian income tax on their overseas sourced incomes. As permanent residents they would pay Australian income tax on all their income and thereby increase Australian tax revenue. Nor has the Government considered the economic impact of the overseas-sourced funds still to be introduced into Australia by retirees over what remains of their lifetime.”
The sc410 has been replaced by the sc405 investor retirement visa which essentially grants applicants over 55 years of age who invest AU$750,000 in an Australian state a 4-year visa which is renewable – provided they have private health cover and an annual net income of $65,000. Like the defunct sc410, this visa provides no avenue to permanent residency in Australia.