The number of streams in the Australian Business Innovation and Investment Programme will be cut in half, and all applicants will have clearer paths to permanent Australian residency.
The Australian Business Innovation and Investment Programme will be reduced to four streams beginning July 1, 2021: Business Innovation, Entrepreneur, Investor, and Significant Investor.
This is a reduction from the nine streams that were available when the Premium Investor stream was introduced in 2015.
Australia is already one of the top ten citizenship-by-investment countries in the world. The refinement of the remaining streams is intended to encourage additional investment and make it easier for investors to stay in the country.
Business Innovation visa stream
The Business Innovation stream is intended for those who already own and operate a successful business. It is one of the few skilled Australian visa options available to people over the age of 45.
To be eligible, you must have at least 65 points on the immigration points test and be under the age of 55. If your business is determined to be of exceptional economic benefit, a state or territory may choose to waive the age requirement.
To prove your business acumen, you must:
- Have owned a business for at least two of the previous four fiscal years with a turnover of at least AUD700,000 (up from AUD500,000);
- Have net business and personal assets totaling AUD1.25 million (up from AUD800,000) that can be used to establish a business in Australia for you, your partner, or both of you.
The Business Innovation stream visa (subclass 188A) will now be valid for five years (up from four years and three months) from the date it is issued.
After operating a business in Australia, you can apply for the Business Innovation and Investment visa (subclass 888A), which is a permanent residence visa, if your company meets certain turnover and financial asset requirements.
If you do not meet the business turnover requirements for the permanent 888A, you will have the option of extending the 188A.
This single two-year extension will be granted if you can demonstrate a realistic commitment to managing a business that has been actively operating in Australia for the past two years.
Entrepreneur visa stream
Due to the stringent requirements, the Entrepreneur stream has received few applicants in the past.
Only eight applications were received between July 2012 and December 2018, according to data released by the Department of Home Affairs at the end of 2019.
As a result, the government has been testing a revamp in South Australia and has now decided to proceed with a full rollout.
To apply, you must currently have a funding agreement from an approved entity for at least AUD 200,000 in order to carry out an entrepreneurial activity in Australia. This criterion is being phased out.
However, you must now be endorsed (rather than simply nominated) by a State or Territory government, and you must still demonstrate a viable business plan for your chosen activity.
This activity could include the commercialization of a product or service, as well as the growth of an enterprise or business. It cannot be residential real estate, labor hire, or the purchase of an existing business in Australia, and both you and your family must meet a high standard of character.
If you are granted a provisional visa (subclass 188E), it will now be valid for five years (up from four years and three months) from the date it is issued, as with the Business Innovation stream.
You can apply for the permanent residence visa (subclass 888E) if you can demonstrate a successful record of entrepreneurial activities while on the provisional visa.
Investor visa stream
You may be eligible for this temporary visa if you have had a successful career in business ownership or investment management.
Although the requirements state that you must be under the age of 55, as with the Business Innovation stream, a state or territory may waive the age requirement if you are deemed to be of exceptional economic benefit.
The visa requires that you:
- Invest at least $1.5 million in Australian state or territory government bonds over a four-year period;
- To apply, you must have at least three years of experience, a track record of success, and a high level of skill in business and/or investment management;
- Have a net business, investment, and personal asset value of at least AUD 2.25 million and a points score of at least 65.
After your initial investment matures, you must demonstrate a realistic commitment to continue and maintain business or investment activity in Australia.
The initial provisional visa (subclass 188B) now allows you to stay in Australia for five years.
As part of the changes, it has been proposed that you may apply for permanent residency after three years of maintaining your investment (rather than four), though you will need to maintain the investment for the fourth year to be granted the permanent visa. You must also have spent at least two of those years in Australia.
Significant investor visa stream
The Significant Investor Stream has an advantage over the Investor Stream in that there is no upper age limit. To qualify, you must invest at least AUD 5 million in compliant investments in Australia and demonstrate a genuine intention to maintain that investment for the duration of your provisional visa.
This stream was updated in 2015 to limit the types of investments allowed, and there are now specific requirements regarding the structure of your investments that must be met in order to be eligible for permanent residency.
The main change coming to this stream in July is that you will now be able to extend your provisional visa twice (two two-year extensions) before applying for the permanent residency visa, as long as you keep your investments in place during this time.
If you have not met the business or residency requirements after three years, you may wish to do so. Previously, you had to apply to a separate Significant Investor Extension stream if you wanted to stay in Australia for an extra four years.
The initial provisional visa, like the other Australian Business Innovation and Investment Program visas, is now valid for five years, with the option to apply for permanent residency after three years.