By EB5 Investors Magazine Staff
One of the unusual visa programs that attracts entrepreneur investors to Australia is its Business Innovation Visa, which does not require an investment before the visa is granted.
The visa holder is required to engage in business activity, however, which is the basis for visa grant, and must be nominated by an Australian State or Territory government, said Lisa De Leon, a registered migration agent with Australian Visa Options.
To be nominated, the applicant must have owned a business with turnover of at least AU$ 500,000 for two of the past four fiscal years, have net personal and business assets of at least AU$ 800,000 and prove that the applicant will continue running the business in Australia. Then, a visa, which is valid for four years and three months, is granted and the applicant can get a permanent residency after running the business for two years.
“This is the most popular business visa for Australia,” said Immigration agent Ali Shahami of the Australian-based R&K Immigration Group, which handled more than 100 Business Innovation visas in the last fiscal year.
Applicants for this visa are monitored closely, however, and De Leon said the Department of Immigration can initiate permanent visa cancellation proceedings within that three years if the applicant has not engaged in their specified business activity or made a legitimate effort to do so during the time.
“In other words, they will be monitored after the visa was granted to ensure that they have complied with the requirements for the grant of their visa,” De Leon said.
Australia’s other popular investment programs include the Significant Investor stream and the Premium Investor Stream. Successful investors are granted a provisional visa, which is the first step towards permanent residency.
THE SIGNIFICANT INVESTOR STREAM
The Significant Investor stream requires an AU$5 million investment over four years and dispersed throughout certain specified funds, including venture capital and growth private equity funds that invest in start-ups and small companies, along with funds investing in emerging companies listed on the Australian Stock Exchange.
After the four years, the investor can apply to the Australian Trade and Investment Commission to apply for permanent residency.
“This category is particularly attractive to certain visa applicants who might otherwise not pass the points test due to their age or English ability,” said De Leon. “This category also does not require any intention to manage a business or investments in Australia, other than to retain their complying significant investments.”
Significant Investors are required to live in the state or territory whose government agency nominated them for a minimum of 40 days per year and continue their business and investment activity in the country even after the provisional visa terms out.
Statistics provided by Australia’s Department of Immigration and Border Protection show 1824 Significant Investor Visas were granted from November 2012, when the program began, through May of 2017.
More than AU$9.12 billion has been in invested into complying Investments during that period and 88 percent of the visas have been granted to investors from China, according to Australia's Department of Immigration and Border Protection.
Trends are most often affected by what is occurring in overseas economies and the ability for investors to move funds out of their countries, according to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection.
THE PREMIUM INVESTOR STREAM
Another option is the Premium Investor Stream, which allows for investing in a variety of areas, including the Australian securities exchange listed assets, government or semi-government bonds or notes, certain corporate bonds or notes in Australian companies and property excluding residential property. Premium Investors, who need to invest at least AU$15 million, can apply for permanent residency after one year.
BASIC INVESTOR STREAM
Australia also offers a basic Investor Stream, which requires an investment of AU$1.5 million. However, applicants opting for this Investor Stream must be under age 55, speak English and score at least 65 on a points test.
All three visa streams require the applicant to make their designated investment before being granted a visa. The investments are permanent, said Atlanta-based immigration Attorney Laura Levin, so investors don’t get their money back if the investment doesn’t work out.