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Business Skills Visas & Investor Visas: Here’s What You Need To Know

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Australia has a program aimed at skilled business owners and investors who can contribute to the Australian economy through their business skills, talent or willingness to invest in Australia. If you are a businessman/businesswoman or an investor who wishes to establish a business or invest in Australia, there is a range of visas that you can consider. Also, if you already have a temporary visa in Australia under the old business skills visas program (Subclass 160-165), you might still be able to apply to stay in Australia permanently.

In this article we will explain the different visa subclasses that might be applicable to you as a business person or an investor.

Business Innovation and Investment visas (Subclass 188)

If you want to own/manage a new or an existing business in Australia or invest in Australia, this is the visa to consider. It is a provisional visa that is valid for 4 years but it has a pathway to a permanent visa. This visa requires an expression of interest to be submitted to either a state or territory government or alternatively Austrade as the first step. Each state/territory has its own requitements so you will need to check what these requirements are before lodging your expression of interest. Then the Australian state/territory, (or Austrade for Significant and Premium Investor streams) can nominate you for this visa.

There are four streams in this visa you can apply under:

  1. Business Innovation stream: this stream applies to you if you have business skills and want to establish, develop and manage a new or existing business in Australia.
  2. Investor stream: to invest at least $1.5million in an Australian state or territory and maintain business and investment activity in Australia.
  3. Significant Investor stream (SIV): to invest at least $5million into complying significant investments in Australia for a period of 4 years and want to maintain business and investment activity in Australia.
  4. Premium Investor stream (PIV): to invest at least $15million into complying premium investments in Australia and for a period of 12 months and want to maintain business and investment activity in Australia.

Business Innovation and Investment visa (Permanent) (Subclass 888)

If you hold a Business Innovation and Investment visas (Subclass 188) for long enough (depending on your stream), and meet other eligibility criteria, you might be eligible to apply for the Business Innovation and Investment permanent Visa (Subclass 888) if:

  • You can show your ongoing business involvement; and
  • Meet certain financial requirements, and
  • Have a history of employing Australians.

This is a permanent visa that will allow you and your family member to stay in Australia indefinitely.

Business Talent (Permanent) visa (Subclass 132)

This is another visa that allows an Australian state/territory to sponsor talented business owners and entrepreneurs.

There are two streams in this visa:

  1. Significant Business History stream: for high level business owners who want to do business in Australia and have a history of successful businesses.
  2. Venture Capital Entrepreneur stream: You must have received at least AU$1million in funding from an Australian venture capital firm, who must be a member of the Australian Venture Capital Association Limited (AVCAL).?

Once you decide which stream you can apply under, an expression of interest needs to be submitted to the relevant state or territory, that you choose. Then once nominated by this state/territory, you can apply for the visa within 60 days of the invitation. This is a permanent visa which means that you and your family members are allowed to stay in Australia as permanent residents. Be aware to meet the requirements under your stream after you enter Australia.

Business Owner (Subclass 890/Subclass 892)

This is a permanent visa that applies to you only if you hold one of the old temporary visas under the business skills program (Visa Subclass 160-165) and if you have:

  • met all the conditions; and
  • lived for at least 1 year in Australia in the past two years; and
  • have a genuine commitment to keep maintaining a business or an investment in Australia.

The business requirements to qualify for this visa are:

  • Your ownership, along with your partner’s, in a main business must be at least:
  • 51% in a business with a turnover of less than $400,000,
  • 30% in a business with a turnover of at least $400,000 or more,
  • 10% in a publicly listed company.
  • You must prove your legal acquisition of a main business or businesses.
  • You must have at least employed 1 full time Australian employee who is not related to you.
  • Your business assets have to be at least $100,000 in the year before you apply or $75,000 for state sponsored visa.
  • Your business and personal assets have to be at least $250,000 in the year before you apply
  • The annual turnover of your business(es) in Australia was at least $300,000 in the year before you apply, or $200,000 for state sponsored visa.
  • You must have managed the business and was involved in the day to day management.

You can either apply independently or through a state or territory nomination depending on what visa you are currently on.

Investor Visa (Subclass 891/Subclass 893)

If you are a new investor who do not hold a visa to Australia yet then you will need to consider the Business Innovation and Investments visa above. If you already have an Investor (Provisional) visa (Subclass 162 or Subclass 165), you can consider applying for the Permanent Investor visa. To qualify for this Investor visa, you will need to show that you (and or your partner) have maintained an investment for at least 4 years of either:

  • $1.5 million for the general stream or
  • $750,000 for the sponsored stream with your nominated state or territory.

Useful tips if you have business skills or considering investing in Australia:

  • All figures indicated in this article are in Australian dollars.
  • Business visas are complex. We recommend you seek legal advice before lodging your application or your expression of interest.
  • Business and personal assets might include your partner’s as well.
  • It is important to choose the right stream before applying.
  • Consider the different Australian states and territories before making a decision where you want to invest.

About the authors

This article was written by Marial Daniel, a solicitor and a registered migration agent (MARN: 1575322) of Teleo Immigration Specialists.

Teleo has successfully represented thousands of applicants over the past 10 years, including complex matters, visa cancellations and review applications.

The director of Teleo Immigration Specialists, Dr Etienne Hugo (MARN: 0004435) has over 17 years of Australian immigration experience and is one of only 35 accredited specialists immigration lawyers in New South Wales. Etienne is admitted as a lawyer in NSW and also the High Court of Australia. He was awarded both his BLC and LLB degrees with distinction and subsequently completed a LLD (Doctor of Law degree) from the University of Pretoria. He obtained his Immigration Law certification from UTS with distinction. Dr Hugo is a Fellow of the Migration Institute of Australia and regularly presents papers on Immigration Law. He has also taught at ANU in the graduate diploma for Immigration since 2006.

If you wish to seek advice or apply for an Australian visa, please contact us on reception@teleo.com.au

DISCLAIMER: Immigration law is complex and is subject to constant regulatory and policy change by the Department of Immigration. The information provided here may therefore be out-dated and no longer accurate. The information provided above is a general guide only – it is not tailored for your specific circumstances or immigration purposes and you must under no circumstances rely on this information for immigration planning or the lodgement of an application with the Australian government or related bodies. In order to ensure your eligibility is accurately assessed and to allow for tactical decision making that would best suit your desired immigration outcome, it is essential that you consult with a capable immigration advisor registered with the relevant Law Society and/or OMARA. We direct new client enquiries to schedule an initial consultation with our office – email: reception@teleo.com.au. During an initial consultation we have the opportunity to obtain a complete set of facts that will allow us to explore all the available options. Another reason we engage clients within the context of an initial consultation is to protect our firm from potential professional liability which may flow from providing a brief, unconsidered opinion. As a paying client you/ us have the benefit of professional indemnity insurance. Liability limited by a scheme approved under the Professional Standards Legislation.

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