+1-800-997-1228

Australia Business Innovation and Investment Visa

Australia offers a variety of options for interested immigrants under its Business Innovation and Investment visa (Subclass 188). Separated into two stages—first provisional and then permanent—this visa allows investors willing to make a significant contribution to the Australian economy to move to, live, and work in the country. The visa is divided into five streams: Business Innovation, Investor, Significant Investor, Premium Investor, and Entrepreneur. To qualify, interested investors can develop and manage a business in Australia, invest at least AUD 1.5 million, invest at least AUD 5 million (Significant Investor), or invest at least AUD 15 million (Premium Investor). The various investment levels require different levels of business experience and offer different benefits. All investors must be nominated by an Australian state, territory, or the Australian Trade Commission (Austrade), depending on their application category.

This visa initially grants investors temporary residence, allows them to run a business or make investments, travel in and out of the country, and bring their qualifying family members to Australia. The provisional visa is valid for four years and three months, and investors can apply for permanent residency at various points throughout that duration depending on their investment stream. Provisional visas may also be extended depending on the investment stream.

Australia also offers the Subclass 132 Business Talent visa and Subclass 888 visa, which can be acquired after holding a Subclass 188 visa. Both visas are permanent, with no limits on length of stay.

The Business Talent visa has two streams: The Significant Business History stream and Venture Capital Entrepreneur stream. The Significant Business History stream is for high-level business owners or part-owners who want to do business in Australia. The Venture Capital Entrepreneur stream is for investors who have sourced venture capital funding from a member of the Australian Venture Capital Association Limited.

Investors wanting the Subclass 132 Business Talent visa must be nominated by a state or territory government agency, be invited to apply for the visa and have assets of AUD 1.5 million and business turnover of AUD 3 million through the Significant Business History stream or have funding of at least AUD 1 million from an Australian venture capital firm (Venture Capital Entrepreneur stream).

The Subclass 888 visa is the next step for Subclass 188 visa holders who plan to continue owning and managing a business in Australia through the Business Innovation, Investor, Significant Investor, Premium Investor, and Entrepreneur streams.

Permanent visas allow the visa holder to work and study in Australia and stay in the country indefinitely, enroll in Medicare, Australia's health care program, apply for Australian citizenship, and sponsor eligible relatives for permanent residence.

 

HISTORY AND STATISTICS

The Business Innovation and Investor visa was originally established to encourage investment in the Australian economy and bring in high-net worth residents. The Significant Investor option was initiated in 2012, and the Premium Investor option—AUD 15 million investment—was launched in 2015. The launch of the premium option accompanied additional reforms to the Significant Investor stream, restricting the types of qualifying investments and encouraging investments in innovating sectors, including venture capital.1 The reforms were based partly on the concern that residential investments were driving up property prices in Australia and that the program was not bringing enough significant economic benefit to the country. [2]

The program is administered by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP). As of May 2017, Australia has granted 1,824 Significant Investor visas (SIV), in addition to visas in other streams. Over the life of the program, more than 90 percent of SIVs have been granted to nationals of China or Hong Kong. [3]

  • AUD 9.120 billion has been in invested into complying investments during that period.
  • Nearly 88 percent of the visas have been granted to investors from China.
  • From Fiscal Year 2008-09 to May 31, 2016, 722 Subclass 132 Business Talent visas have been granted.
  • From Fiscal Year 2012-13 to May 31, 2016, 96 Subclass 888 visas have been granted in the Business Innovation stream. Statistics in the other streams are not available.

 

ELIGIBILITY AND REQUIREMENTS [4]

The streams under the Business Innovation and Investment visa are intended for investors aged 55 or younger with significant net worth and/or some degree of business experience, depending on the category. To apply for the program in any stream, investors must be nominated by an Australian state or territory or Austrade and must meet health and character requirements. Each stream has varying additional eligibility measures and requirements. For investors over the age of 55, a separate visa is available that offers a temporary residency (up to four years) but does not lead to permanent residency.


BUSINESS INNOVATION STREAM

To apply for the visa under the Business Innovation stream, investors must develop a qualifying business in Australia and:

  • Be under the age of 55, Score a total of 65 points on the immigration points test,
  • Have a successful business career, including previous ownership interest in a business in the preceding four years,
  • Have at least AUD 800,000 in legally acquired business or personal assets able to be transferred to Australia within two years of visa approval,
  • Have a significant ownership interest in the nominated business upon which their application is based for two out of the four fiscal years immediately before they are invited to apply, and
  • Have had an ownership interest in an established business or businesses that had at least AUD 500, 000 turnover in each of those years.

That interest is defined as follows:

  • “51 percent, if the business has a turnover of less than AUD 400,000 per year
  • 30 percent, if the business has a turnover of AUD 400,000 or more per year
  • 10 percent, if the business is a publicly listed company.” [5]

 

INVESTOR STREAM

The general investor stream requires an investment of at least AUD 1.5 million in government securities in an Australian state or territory, to be maintained for at least four years. In addition to the investment requirement, applicants must also:

  • Be under the age of 55,
  • Score a total of 65 points on the immigration points test,
  • Demonstrate a successful business or investment record,
  • Have management skills related to the qualifying investment, including direct management experience with a business or investment,
  • Be committed to maintaining investment activity as an Australian resident, and
  • Intend to reside in the state/territory of investment for at least two years.

For at least one of the five fiscal years immediately before investors are invited to apply, they must have directly managed a qualifying business in which they, their partner or both had at least 10 percent ownership interest or eligible investments of at least AUD 1.5 million.

Additionally, investors need to have at least AUD 2.5 million in legally acquired assets available to be transferred to Australia within two years of visa approval. All proceeds from investment activities in Australia are subject to taxation under Australian law.


SIGNIFICANT INVESTOR STREAM

The Significant Investor stream requires an investment of at least AUD 5 million spread out over qualifying categories, while removing many of the business requirements on the applicant. The investment must be maintained for four years. The qualifying investment must be divided as follows:

  • “AUD 500,000 or more in venture capital and growth private equity funds […],
  • At least AUD 1.5 million in approved managed funds investing in emerging companies listed on the Australian Stock Exchange,
  • A ‘balancing investment’ of at least AUD 3 million in managed funds that may invest in a range of assets, including Australian Securities Exchange (ASX)-listed companies, Australian corporate bonds or notes, annuities and commercial real estate.” [6]

In addition to investment requirements, investors should be committed to residing in the state or territory of their investment and continuing their investment activity after progressing from the provisional visa. Investors must reside in Australia at least 40 days per year while holding a provisional visa. All proceeds from investment activities in Australia are subject to taxation under Australian law.


PREMIUM INVESTOR STREAM

Like the Significant Investor stream, the Premium Investor stream relies on a large investment rather than the business skills of the applicant. To qualify under this stream, investors must be nominated by Austrade, on behalf of the Australian government. However, this category is highly selective and unsolicited applications or expressions of interest are not accepted.7 If invited by the government to apply, this stream requires an investment of at least AUD 15 million across categories, including government or corporate bonds, deferred annuities, philanthropic contributions, and real property (excluding residential), among others.

There is no residency requirement for visa holders and Premium Investors can apply for permanent residency in one year.8 All proceeds from investment activities in Australia are subject to taxation under Australian law.

 

ENTREPRENEUR STREAM

Investors in the Entrepreneur stream must be under age 55, speak competent English, and undertaking or planning to undertake a complying entrepreneur activity in Australia and have a genuine intention to continue this activity.

A complying entrepreneur activity relates to an innovative idea that will lead to the commercialization of a product or service in Australia, or the development of an enterprise or business in Australia.

A complying entrepreneur activity must meet all the following requirements:

  • The investor has one or more legally enforceable agreements to receive funding of at least AUD 200, 000 from a commonwealth government agency, state or territory government or publicly funded research organization, specified higher education provider.
  • At least 10 percent of the funding must be payable to the entrepreneurial entity within 12 months of the day the activity starts in Australia.
  • The investor must have held at least 30 percent interest in the entrepreneurial entity when entering into the agreement.
  • The investor must present a business plan for the entrepreneurial entity showing how the innovative idea will lead to the commercialization of a product or service in Australia, or the development of an enterprise or business in Australia.
  • This activity must not relate to residential real estate, labor hire or the purchase of an existing enterprise or a franchise in Australia.

 

APPLICATION AND RENEWAL

Investors must first submit an Expression of Interest (EOI) online, indicating the stream in which they wish to apply and which state or territory they are seeking nomination from. Each state or territory may require different information from the applicant. The indicated entity will then review the applicant’s information and issue invitations to qualified candidates. Premium Investors are not able to file EOIs and must be nominated by Austrade, on behalf of the Australian government, directly.

If nominated to apply, investors will receive an invitation letter with application instructions. Applicants will need to provide various documents depending on their application stream, but all applicants must submit identity documents, health and character documents, and evidence that they speak English. Applicants can apply from within or outside of Australia, by submitting their application online and sending supporting documents to the office indicated in their invitation letter.

After submitting their application, investors can expect to wait about nine months to receive a decision. Before being granted a visa, applicants will be asked in writing to make their qualifying investment and will be instructed on how to do so and how to document the investment.

Business Innovation and Investment visas are initially valid for four years and three months. Visas in the Business Innovation stream may be renewed one time for an additional two years to allow more time to meet program requirements, and the Significant Investor visa can be renewed twice for two-year periods, for the same reason. Applicants under the Investor or Premium Investor streams cannot apply to renew their provisional visa.

Investors can apply for a permanent visa at various points depending on their investment stream, provided they have met the investment requirements. Business Innovation visa holders can apply for permanent residency if they have held their temporary visa for at least one year in the two years prior to applying for permanent residency and if they have met certain business requirements (described in detail on the DIBP website). Investor visa holders can apply after four years, and Significant Investors can similarly apply after four years but must also meet the residency requirements described above. Premium Investors can apply after one year of holding the temporary visa.

Applicants can estimate the cost of their visa application using the calculator on Australia’s Department of Immigration and Border Protection website.

Applicants may prepare the application and documentation on their own, or they may find it easier to have an Australian professional guide them. Applicants are strongly recommended to seek out a qualified attorney familiar with the program prior to making any investments. Furthermore, various full-service companies exist that can educate investors about the program, direct them to attorneys and advisors, and guide them through the application process.

 

SUBCLASS 132 BUSINESS TALENT VISA

To be granted a Subclass 132 Business Talent visa, the investor must be younger than age 55 and is required to have total net assets of at least AUD 400,000 as the ownership interest in one or more qualifying businesses for least two of the four fiscal years immediately before being invited to apply.

If the qualifying business(es) was a publicly listed company, the investor must own a shareholding of at least 10 percent of the total issued capital.

The ownership interest must be:

  • 51 percent of a business with turnover of less than AUD 400,000 per year,
  • 30 percent of a business with turnover of more than AUD 400,000 per year, or
  • 10 percent of a publicly listed company.

 

SIGNIFICANT BUSINESS HISTORY STREAM

Investors in the Significant Business History stream must establish a qualifying business after entering Australia or participate in an existing qualifying business in Australia. They must maintain substantial ownership and have continuous, day-to-day involvement in managing the business in a way that benefits the Australian economy.

 

VENTURE CAPITAL ENTREPRENEUR STREAM

Investors in the Venture Capital Entrepreneur steam must have received at least AUD 1 million in funding from an Australian venture capital firm that belongs to the Australian Private Equity and Venture Capital Association. The funds must be for the start-up, product commercialization or business development of a promising, valuable business idea.

 

BUSINESS INNOVATION AND INVESTMENT PERMANENT VISA (SUBCLASS 888)

To be granted a Subclass 888 visa, the investor must have held a Subclass 188 visa and be nominated by a state or territory government agency or Austrade.

The investor must have owned and operated a business in Australia for at least two years in the Business Innovation stream, held an investment of AUD 1.5 million for four years in the Investor stream, AUD 5 million for four years in the Significant Investor stream, or AUD 15 million for one year in the Premium Investor stream.

 

[1] Smyth, Jamie. "Rule Change Hits Demand for Australian Investor Visas." Financial Times. September 15, 2015. Accessed January 4, 2016. http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/4e1c1192-57a4-11e5-a28b-50226830d644.html#axzz3vud9qCdF.

[2] "Australia Expands Visa Programme Aimed at Rich Chinese." BBC News. October 14, 2014. Accessed January 4, 2016. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-29611137.

[3] "Significant Investor Visa Statistics." Department of Immigration and Border Protection. Accessed January 4, 2016. https://www.border.gov.au/about/reports-publications/research-statistics/statistics/work-in-australia/significant-investor-visa-statistics.

[4] Unless otherwise noted, all program information taken from "Business Innovation and Investment (Provisional) Visa (subclass 188)." Department of Immigration and Border Protection. Accessed January 4, 2016. https://www.border.gov.au/Trav/Visa-1/188-.

[5] See note 4.

[6] See note 4.

[7] "Significant and Premium Investor Visa Programmes." Austrade. Accessed January 4, 2016. http://www.austrade.gov.au/international/invest/guide-to-investing/coming-to-australia/significant-and-premium-investor-programmes/austrades-role.

[8] "Premium Investor Visa." McCollough.com. July 21, 2015. Accessed January 4, 2016. http://www.mccullough.com.au/icms_docs/222488_Premium_Investor_Visa.pdf.