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Australia Business Innovation and Investment Visa (Subclass 188)

These visas are suited to investors and business owners who wish to invest or establish business operations in Australia. These visas are 4 year temporary visas, however, once received, visa holders can apply for a Subclass 888 Permanent Residence Visa.

The Subclass 188 Visa has five visa Streams:

  • Business Innovation Stream [points tested]:  It requires the application to be made via the SkillSelect process. This process has a “Points Test,” English Language and EOI requirement. The Business Innovation stream offers  a 2-year extension if you have held the subclass 188 visa for 3 years, giving you 6 years (temporary status) from the date of grant of the original visa.
  • Investor Stream [points tested]:  Available for applicants making a designated investment in an Australian State or Territory. This stream requires the primary applicant to spend 2 years in Australia before progressing to Permanent Residency.
  • Significant Investor Stream: Available to applicants who are making a (minimum) $5 million investment in Australia. After a period of 4 years, applicants may be able to apply for permanent residence through the Business Innovation & Investment (Permanent) Subclass 888 visa.
  • The Premium Investor Stream: It is by nomination of Austrade on behalf of the Australian government only. You must make a complying investment of at least AUD15 million in any of the following options:
    • Australian securities exchange listed assets.
    • Australian government or semi-government bonds or notes.
    • Corporate bonds or notes issued by an Australian exchange listed entity (or wholly owned subsidiary of the Australian listed entity) or investment grade rated Australian corporate bonds or notes rated by an AFS licenced debt rating agency.
    • Australian proprietary limited companies.
    • Real property in Australia excluding residential property.
    • Deferred annuities issued by Australian registered life companies.
    • State or territory government approved philanthropic contribution.

Income that you earn from your complying investment in Australia is subject to tax under Australian taxation law.You must also have a genuine and realistic commitment to continue your business and investment activity in Australia after the conclusion of your provisional visa.

You, your partner (spouse or de facto), or you and your partner combined must have net assets of at least AUD15 million that are legally acquired, unencumbered, and available to be used to make the complying investment in Australia.

You and your partner must not have been involved in unacceptable business or investment activities.You, your partner and other family members aged at least 18 must agree not to bring any action against the Commonwealth for any loss relating to your complying investment.

  • Entrepreneur Stream:
  • You must:

    • be under 55 years of age, although a state or territory can waive this requirement if your proposed complying entrepreneur activity will be of exceptional economic benefit to the nominating state or territory
    • have competent English and be able to provide evidence of this at the time you are invited to apply for the visa
    • be undertaking or proposing to undertake a complying entrepreneur activity in Australia and have a genuine intention to continue this activity

A Complying Entrepreneur Activity is an activity that relates to an innovative idea that will lead to the commercialisation of a product or service in Australia, or the development of an enterprise or business in Australia.

This activity must not relate to any of the following excluded categories:

  • Residential real estate
  • Labour hire
  • Purchase of an existing enterprise or a franchise in Australia.

An activity is a complying entrepreneur activity if all of the following requirements are met:

  • you have one or more legally enforceable agreements to receive funding with a total of at least AUD200,000 from one of the following entities:
    • Commonwealth Government agency
    • State or Territory Government
    • Publicly Funded Research Organisation
    • Investor registered as an Australian Venture Capital Limited Partnership or Early State Venture Capital Limited Partnership
    • Specified Higher Education Provider
  • under the agreement at least 10 per cent of the funding must be payable to the entrepreneurial entity within 12 months of the day the activity starts to be undertaken in Australia;
  • You held at least 30 per cent interest in your entrepreneurial entity when you entered into the agreement.
  • You have a business plan for the entrepreneurial entity noting how your innovative idea will lead to the commercialisation of a product or service in Australia, or the development of an enterprise or business in Australia.

This option requires you to have owned a business and to be intending to establish business operations in Australia. You will need to meet the following criteria if you are applying through the Business Innovation Stream:

  • Applicant must be less than 55 years of age at the time of invitation to apply for the visa;
  • Applicant must show ownership of a business with turnover of at least AUD 500,000 for 2 of the last 4 fiscal years;
  • Applicant must show net personal and business assets of at least AUD 800,000; and
  • For at least 2 out of the 4 fiscal years before invitation, the Applicant must have spent at least 50% of time in a management role in the business

A subclass 188 Business Innovation visa holder may be eligible to apply for one extension for a 2 year period, if:

  • the visa holder can demonstrate a need to be in Australia to operate / run the business in question;
  • the visa holder has held ownership (of at least 30%) in an operating Australian business, for at least two years prior to applying for the extension. (Note – the ownership stake is only 10% for publicly listed companies); and
  • the visa holder can show a commitment to maintain their interest in the company and a commitment to operate the business through active, day-to-day involvement.

This option requires Applicants to have managed investments or owned a business in Australia and have a willingness to make further investments in Australia. The applicant must be willing to invest AUD $5 million in Australian State or Territory Government bonds, known as a “designated investment” once the eligible investment has matured. If you are applying for the Investor Stream, the Applicant must:

  • Have at least three years’ experience of direct involvement in managing one or more qualifying businesses or eligible investments;
  • Have had business and personal net assets of at least AUD $2.25 million for the last 2 fiscal years;
  • For at least one out of the five fiscal years before invitation, have directly  managed either an eligible investment worth at least AUD $1.5 million, or a qualifying business in which the Applicant has owned at least 10% of the total value of the business; and
  • Demonstrate net business or personal assets of (at least) AUD $2.25 million, for the two fiscal years immediately before the invitation.

What are eligible investments for the purposes of this visa? The investment must produce a “return” and cannot be for personal use.  This list is includes:

  • Ownership interests in a business;
  • Cash on deposit;
  • Stocks or bonds;
  • Real estate (excluding family homes);
  • Gold or silver bullion; or
  • Loan to a business.

What is a designated investment for the purposes of this visa? 

An investment in State or Territory government issued bonds.

The Significant Investor Stream is available to Applicants willing to invest at least AUD $5 million a complying investment. The Applicant must show (among other things):

  • the $5 million was legally acquired and is unencumbered;
  • evidence that they have resided at least 160 days (out of 4 years) in the nominating State or Territory; and
  • a real and genuine commitment to maintain the complying investment for at least 4 years.

A Significant Investor Visa holder may be able to apply for up to TWO extensions of the visa, so long as they continue to hold the requisite interest in the complying investments. What is a complying investment? The required AUD $5 million must be invested in:

  • Commonwealth, State or Territory Bonds;
  • ASIC approved managed funds; or
  • Directly into Australian [proprietary] companies.

Direct investment in Australian Real Estate will NOT be considered a complying investment for the purposes of this visa.

If you are intrested to immigrate to Australia, fill out our online assessment form.

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