Business Visas

The Current Status of Australian Business Visas

8 Jul 2015 / Inna Feldmann

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The Current Status of Australian Business Visas

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Australian Business Visas have gained much publicity in the past couple years in light of the significant changes introduced in November 2012.

Since the revamp of the visa class, it was great to experience increased efficiency with processing at the Department level to allow us to assist many business owners in obtaining provisional and permanent residency visas. The now streamlined Business Visas include the provisional subclass 188 Business Visa, the permanent subclass 888 visa and the Business talent subclass 132 visa.

It is important that these applicants establish that they have a successful business or investment career and a genuine commitment to engage in business activities in Australia.

Since its introduction, the Significant Investor Visa (SIV) programme on 24th November 2012, has granted 751 primary applicants a valid visa to Australia. As holders of subclass 188 Business Visa under SIV programme, applicants and their family are expected to continue their investment for at least four years to be eligible for their permanent subclass 888 visa. As of 31st March 2015, 3.755 Billion AUD has been invested in complying Investments, with a further 2.770 Billion AUD proposed to be invested.

On 15th May 2015 the Government further announced the new complying investment framework for the SIV and Premium Investor Visa (PIV) programme.

The new framework has been implemented since 1 July 2015 and will encourage investment into innovative Australian ideas and emerging companies. Austrade will become a nominator for the SIV, alongside State and Territory Governments, and the sole nominator for the PIV.

Under the new arrangements, SIV applicants will be required to invest at least $5 million over four years in complying investments, which must now include:

  • At least $500,000 in eligible Australian venture capital or growth private equity fund(s) investing in start-up and small private companies. The Government expects to increase this to $1 million for new applications within two years as the market responds;
  • At least $1.5 million in an eligible managed fund(s) or Listed Investment Companies (LICs) that invest in emerging companies listed on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX); and;
  • A ‘balancing investment’ of up to $3 million in managed fund(s) or LICs that invest in a combination of eligible assets that include other ASX listed companies, eligible corporate bonds or notes, annuities and real property (subject to the 10 per cent limit on residential real estate)

Previously, investment through the SIV programme was largely going into passive investments like government bonds and residential real estate funds – areas that already attract large capital flows.

Direct investment in real estate has never been a complying investment for SIV and this will not change under the new arrangements. Indirect investment in residential real estate through managed funds will also now be limited. Importantly, a SIV holder can still independently invest in residential real estate so long as it complies with foreign investment rules, but this would not count as a complying investment to qualify for a visa.

Furthermore, the Australian Government introduced a new Premium Investor stream under the 188 visa since 1 July 2015, targeting talented entrepreneurs and innovators. The PIV will offer a more expeditious, 12 month pathway to permanent residency than the SIV 188 Visa, for those meeting a $15 million threshold. The PIV will be available at the invitation of the Australian Government only, with potential recipients to be nominated by Austrade. This programme will be rolled out over the next year, focussing on attracting a small number of highly talented and entrepreneurial individuals. States and Territories will play an important role in helping to identify potential applicants.

To better service high net worth clients under these visas, we have worked with a synergised network of professionals including financial advisors, accountants, business and commercial lawyers to provide them with migration, business and settlement assistance. In light of the recent changes to the 188 visa, we endeavour to ensure that prospective clients considering this visa pathway are given the best advise possible.

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Inna Feldmann

National Operations Manager