Important changes to Australian visa holders' property ownership rulesAustralian visa holders who own or who are looking to buy property in Australia are now subject to updated policies.

As of the 31st March 2009, Australian visa holders must adhere to new regulations implemented by the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB).

These include the re-definition of ‘temporary residents’ for investment purposes. An Australian temporary resident includes all holders of a temporary Australian visa that has a validity period greater than 12 months, or all non-Australian citizens who have submitted an Australian visa application for permanent residency (PR) and are holders of a bridging visa that allows them to stay in Australia until DIAC approves their PR application.

More explicitly, an Australian temporary resident does not include holders of an Australian travel visa, holders of a short-term Australian business visa, or those in Australia for medical purposes.

Australian student visa holders who wish to buy property in Australia have greater freedom in their choice of property purchase; no longer are they restricted to investing a maximum of $300,000 on an established dwelling as their principal place of residence.

Changes have also been made to regulations regarding vacant residential land and Australian visa holders. Now, Australian visa holders resident in Australia must build a dwelling on their purchased single-block vacant land within two years of purchase (previous regulations gave a grace period of 12 months).

New dwellings can also now be sold freely to Australian visa holders off the plan if developers advertise to buyers locally and overseas.

Previously, only half of new dwellings could be sold to foreign persons and vendors had to have developed a similar dwelling in order to sell a new stand-alone dwelling to a foreign person. A ‘new dwelling’ has also been re-defined as dwellings that have not been sold but could have been occupied for no more than 12 months.

Source:   Visabureau.com