Following the pandemic, investment migration has become an important area of focus for Australia.
People in other countries are impressed by how Australia has handled its pandemic response and they see it as a safe place to live and do business. These factors along with the other economic and lifestyle benefits that make Australia a great place to live mean that the country is poised to see a surge in business and investment migration in the near future.
To help with the post-pandemic recovery, Australia is expected to commence with extending invitations for investor visas after a month-long suspension. This includes the Business Innovation & Investor Visa program, which involves the 188A (business innovation stream), 188B (investor stream), 188C (significant investor stream), and 188E (entrepreneur stream). It also includes the 132 Business Talent (Permanent) visa, which has a significant business history stream and a venture capital stream.
Investment Migration Planning Levels 2020/21
The Federal Budget announcement on 6 October indicated that the Business Innovation and Investor visa program will be prioritised this immigration year, to help stimulate businesses and employment through new ventures and investment.
There are also some proposed changes to the investor program specifically that the government has outlined:
“From 1 July 2021, the Government will streamline and improve the operation of the Business Innovation and Investment Program (BIIP). The Government will introduce changes to improve the quality of investments and applicants. Visa application charges for BIIP visas will also be increased by an additional 11.3% (above regular CPI indexation) on 1 July 2021.
These changes will sharpen the focus of the BIIP program on higher value investors, business owners, and entrepreneurs and improve the economic outcomes of the BIIP.”
Investor visas are given by invitation from states and territory governments. During September and October, a very small number of visas were offered to business investors that were critical to Australia’s recovery from the pandemic.
But following the Federal Budget announcement for the 2021 fiscal year, the program is expected to not only return to pre-COVID levels but to increase the number of places from 4,420 granted in the 2020 fiscal year to 13,500. With this on the horizon, now is the perfect time for individuals and companies to prepare nomination applications and expressions of interest, ready for when the program re-opens.
Once the program re-opens, State and Territory Governments will announce their nomination criteria and start inviting eligible applicants to apply for the visa. It is also expected that the Australian Government will prioritise these visa classes to stimulate recovery from recent economic changes with a boost in foreign investment.
Overview of Business Innovation and Investment visa
Foreign investment is an ideal pathway to Australian residency and citizenship for high net worth individuals and their families. Currently, the business stream of the subclass 188 allows business owners to start-up or invest in Australia with minimum investments starting from $200,000 (the minimum level of investment is dependent on the State/Territory).
The investor stream of the subclass 188 visa allows people who are managing (or have managed) business or investments and demonstrate ownership of a business or personal assets of $2.25 million AUD or more to migrate to Australia. Investors approved for this visa are required to make a designated investment of at least $1.5 million AUD in a nominated Australian state or territory.
Individuals also have to meet the following criteria:
- Have a successful record of eligible investment or qualifying business activity
- Have net personal and business assets over $800,000 or higher depending on the visa type
- Be willing to transfer to Australia a certain amount of funds acquired through the eligible investment or business activity
- Show management skills in relation to the eligible investment or qualifying business activity
- Score at least 65 points on the points test, which evaluates a range of factors like age, qualifications, endorsements, the value of assets, and management skills
Once approved, individuals can stay in Australia for up to four years and three months on the provisional visa. Multiple entries are permitted, and, if successful, family members are also covered under this program. If certain requirements are met during the provisional stage, an application can be lodged later for a permanent visa (such as visa subclass 888).
How we can help with your investor visa
A strategic approach is necessary for obtaining a subclass 188 visa. At TMA, we specialise in helping our clients build compelling cases that lead to a successful visa grant. We assist with each step from start to finish, including:
- Feasibility Test – while other migration agents simply check off a list and prepare for lodgement, we work with applicants to pre-assess their feasibility based on personal history as well as documentation to provide the best chance of approval. In this process, we can identify up-front whether a person has the right investment profile to qualify for migration, and choose the most suitable State or Territory where they wish to live and invest.
- Preparation – TMA assists with the preparation of evidence to demonstrate skills, experience, and assets/investments to put together a compelling case for the candidate. An application can be delayed, or even rejected if the paperwork is not complete or is inadequate, so we ensure every aspect is covered to fast-track the process.
- Nomination Application and Expression of Interest (EOI) – We help with the lodgement of a nomination application to relevant state government authorities, and advocate for the client as an ideal candidate for state nomination. We also lodge the Expression of Interest with the Department of Home Affairs making claims regarding the applicant’s points score and other factors for an invitation to be issued.
- Visa Application Lodgement – Once invited, we finalise the visa application itself. The documentation required at the visa stage is different from the nomination stage, and we’ll help you prepare all the information needed to demonstrate your business or investment ownership and management experience, along with an outline of the proposed investments and family member information. TMA prepares all of this for you and can lodge the application on your behalf.
- Advocacy – TMA manages the application process on your behalf keeping on top of notifications and follow-up requirements for a smooth experience and positive outcome.
Frequently asked questions: Investor visas
What can I invest in?
For the 188A business innovation stream visa, you can acquire an existing business or establish a new one. There is a range of industries that can be invested in to qualify for the subclass 188A visa; the preferred industries are outlined by the States and Territories based on what would provide the most economic benefit to the state or territory.
For the 188B investor visa, $1.5 million needs to be invested in State or Territory Government bonds for a period of 4 years. Or with the 188C significant investor visa, $5 million is to be invested into a complying significant investment and must comprise of:
- at least $500,000 AUD in venture capital and growth private equity funds to invest in start-ups and small private companies
- at least1.5 million AUD in emerging companies listed on the Australian Stock Exchange
- a ‘balancing investment’ of at least $3 million AUD in managed funds (can include ASX-listed companies, bonds or notes, annuities, and commercial real estate)
Can I invest in property?
The short answer is, no. Direct investment in residential real estate does not qualify for a business or investor visa, nor is it an indirect investment in residential property through managed funds.
In some states, it is possible to invest in a property development business for the 188A visa, however, there are strict restrictions on the size and turnover of the property development business and size of the development.
Whilst real estate is not a complying investment for visa purposes, it is possible to invest in real estate as a 188 visa holder, such as the purchase of a family home.
Is the investment made before or after the granting of the visa?
The investment is typically made after the granting of the visa. In the business innovation stream, it is possible to invest in the business prior to grant of the visa however further investments will need to be made in line with the investment requirements of the State Government to qualify for permanent residency.
Investments in Government bonds and significant investor visa funds are made at the time of grant of the visa.
For further information and advice about business or investment migration, please contact The Migration Agency and our friendly immigration experts are there to help you.