Christina Lim is an Australian migration agent associated with the law firm Regis Legal in Australia’s Gold Coast. Lim, who is an immigrant herself, is a specialist in Australian migration and has successfully dealt with many clients seeking permanent residency and citizenship.
“I believe that as the world becomes more inter-connected and as more information becomes available on internet to people, the RCBI industry would fetch greater appeal and interest, especially post-COVID times when people begin questioning life, how they run their lives, why they are where they are at the moment and begin searching for better life options,” she said.
“The RCBI industry has great potential for growth as countries increasingly experience shakings in economy, legal and government systems, and social structure. People will always be looking out for the greener grass on the other side but as an industry, RCBI cannot just focus on the migration aspects. The supportive structures such as post-migration settlement, financing, investment advice, taxation, education and legal support will definitely provide added value to the industry if intrinsically linked with strategic partners in other fields.”
How and why did you get involved in the investment immigration industry?
I started with the investment immigration industry very early in my career as a migration professional because I was working in a law firm and, inevitably, was exposed to meeting many investors, business entrepreneurs and families from China, Hong Kong, and other Asian countries. Next to real-estate investment, most people from overseas were interested in the next step, which was migration, education for their children and setting up businesses here. I handle many types of migration cases but specialize in the Australian investment and business visas. Due to my multilingual background, I was able to handle clients from China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia, so it helped a lot.
What are some current trends you are seeing in the RCBI industry globally?
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic during 2020 and beyond, the world has become very restricted in terms of travel and exchange of visitors. Those who are financially able to invest in RCBI will look at which country offers them the safest second home benefits in terms of economy, societal integration, politics and possible retirement ground. There has been a sudden shift of interest coming from newly-developed economies and the recently affluent such as from Vietnam, Cambodia and India. Fund transfers in certain countries such as China have also been severely limited, thus dissuading mass movement of migration and funds.
How do you think the pandemic has impacted the global RCBI industry?
There are two ways you can look at this: current deterrence of migration (due to border controls, caution of infection and being financially challenged in jobs and businesses) and future opportunities as the pandemic becomes less severe. COVID-19 has certainly affected the business for global RCBI in various countries. However, I think there may be opportunities for some countries to leverage on the situation by showing they have managed the pandemic well. One of them is Australia, which despite its tough requirements on its RCBI program, is still attracting many applicants to migrate here permanently.
What are some of the current trends you are seeing with Australia’s program and its investors?
Even though Australia was not spared from the recent COVID-19-related recession, Australia has been one of the better-managed economies by far. Its position is strengthened by the fact that it is a economy with many primary industries and is a significant producer of food, energy sources and minerals. One of the examples I have observed is the fact that Australia has been sought after as a second home by sportsmen, and Hollywood celebrities as more film production is relocated out of U.S. due to COVID-19 constraints and general public sentiment towards the current political scene. Australia continues to attract and welcome the best and the brightest to its shores with its Global Talent Independent program as well as investors/businessmen who wish to inject capital into the economy here. The business and investment program will also see a raising of minimum qualification benchmarks to ensure that only genuine investors and businesspeople are coming to Australia.
Has there been any recent changes to Australia’s program or any new investment options or streams?
Yes, there will be significant changes coming up in July 2021. The investment and business migration benchmarks will be raised and certain visas such as the subclass 188 (Significant Investor stream) visa will see more fund requirements towards early venture capitalist. I am also watching the space for the 188 Entrepreneur stream visa, which enables one to propose an innovative business plan to a state/territory here with a view to starting a business and creating jobs. We expect to hear some changes for this stream before July this year.
What is your take on the importance of cryptocurrency in this industry?
Cryptocurrency is definitely the next trend of global financing and banks and businesses are starting to enter the market as well. I believe the RCBI industry will benefit from this because it enables moving of funds to be so much easier in light of tough sanctions on funds mobility for certain countries. The challenge is to filter the funds from money laundering so each country that has the RCBI program will need to establish their own financial checks or to decide whether they will recognize funds in cryptocurrency.
Why do you think global mobility is important these days?
It gives one an option where to take up residence, do business, work, or study. If you are just tied to one community/nation, you and your family will be limited in choices for investment, residence, education or businesses. Global mobility means more than just another passport, it also enables you to expand your business and investment horizon, because there are certain privileges given by each country towards a citizen or permanent resident versus just a visitor. For example, permanent residents or citizens in Australia have the right to be directors in businesses here, free education and health costs, access to financial loans, waiver of foreign investment review application fees and entitlements to sponsor family members to live here. Also, these days, you just never know how your government is going to turn out and how systems will affect your personal lifestyles and finances. Look at what happened to Hong Kong in recent years. When you accord yourself global mobility options at an earlier stage of your life, you have so much more flexibility to make future decisions.
What are your thoughts on vaccine passports?
I think it is a good idea for minimizing infection and quarantine requirements. However, it would not be fair to those who did not want to be vaccinated and are deprived their freedom of travel. There have still been cases of deaths or contraindications to the vaccine and certain groups of people would still approach mandatory vaccine for travel with caution.
What is it like working in this industry?
The migration industry is a very demanding field. Australian migration law is very fluid and changes ever so often. As professionals in this field, we have to be constantly keeping abreast with the changes in order to advise with accurate information to our clients.
It is a high-stress occupation because you are handling people’s money, lives and their families’ future. They entrust their plans to your hands and one wrong step could cost them the opportunity of a lifetime to settle here because so many factors could affect their visa success without proper planning, i.e., age, previous visas, education, declaration of previous backgrounds, etc. Migration is also very rewarding and satisfying after months or years of navigating a client through the process and seeing them finally be able to move to a new country, seeing how your efforts and advice has resulted in changed lives for individuals and entire families.
What achievement in this market has been the most rewarding for you? Why?
Seeing people live out their dreams and be able to help them have the opportunity to start new lives in a new country. I also take pride in the fact that I am a role player in the Australian economy by helping to bring in the best and the brightest, as well as active contributors towards the economy such as skilled persons for filling in wanted manpower, businesspeople and investors.
What is your favorite quote and why?
“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”- Winston Churchill. We so often get caught up in the doing and not the planning because we see urgent as important when sometimes not all urgent stuff is important. Urgency sometimes is due to mismanagement of time and lack of planning. If I sat back and thought of how many times a client could have given me the required documents earlier so that there was no need to rush, I can see now that the level of importance they had attached to that was not enough, so I aim to plan for each matter to avoid failure and minimise troubleshooting.
What are your top destinations in the world and why?
Europe – I haven’t seen enough of that. I have been to Italy, Germany, France, England, Switzerland and Austria but only on a whirlwind tour. I have special memories of Switzerland with its scenic natural beauty and refined culture. I would like to go back there another time to see Zurich and Lucerne.
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