Article:

Business Innovation and Investment Program - Overview

01 January 2017

Maria Jockel , Legal Principal and National Leader, Migration Services |

The Business Innovation and Investment Program is made up of three visa subclasses:

  • Business Talent (Permanent) (Subclass 132)
  • Business Innovation and Investment (Provisional) (Subclass 188)
  • Business Innovation and Investment(Permanent) (Subclass 888)

The Business Talent (Permanent) (Subclass 132) visa is the only Business Skills visa which allows for direct entry permanent residency.

The Business Talent (Permanent) (Subclass 132) has two streams namely:

  • Significant business history stream
  • Venture capital entrepreneur stream

The Business Innovation and Investment (Provisional) (Subclass 188) visa and the Business Innovation and Investment (Permanent) (Subclass 888) visa streams are:

  • Business innovation stream
  • Investor stream

In the case of the Business Talent (Permanent) (Subclass 132) and the Business Innovation and Investment (Permanent) (Subclass 888) the intending migrant must be invited to apply for a visa by a state or territory government, based on their Expression of Interest.  On that basis, these two visa subclasses are not subject to a points test.

Business Talent (Permanent) (Subclass 132) visa

The state or territory nominated permanent visa has two streams:

  • Significant business history stream
  • Venture capital entrepreneur stream

The significant business history stream is intended for high-calibre business owners or part owners of a business who have a genuine and realistic commitment to manage a new or existing business in Australia. The requirements of this stream will remain the same as that of the current Business Talent visa.

The venture capital entrepreneur stream is intended to facilitate the entry of migrant entrepreneurs with a high-potential business idea.  Migrant entrepreneurs must have sourced at least AUD1 million in venture capital funding through a member of the Australian Venture Capital Association Limited (AVCAL).  AVCAL is the leading industry association that represents and promotes the long-term interests of the private equity and venture capital industries in Australia. The funding should be provided for early phase start-up, product commercialisation, or business development and expansion.

Business Innovation and Investment (Provisional) (Subclass 188) Visa

This comprises five streams:

  • Business Innovation Stream
  • Investor Stream
  • Significant Investor Stream
  • Premium Investor Stream
  • Entrepreneur Stream.

The visa is for people who:

  • Have a successful business career and have a genuine and realistic commitment to be involved as an owner in a new or existing business in Australia or
  • Have a successful record of qualifying business or eligible investment activity and will make a designated investment in a State or Territory of Australia and have a realistic commitment to continuing business and investment activity in Australia after the original investment has matured.

Business Innovation Stream

The applicant (and their partner, or the applicant and their partner combined) must have:

  • Total assets of at least AUD800,000 that have been legally acquired and can be legally transferred to Australia within two years of the visa being granted
  • A total annual turnover of at least AUD500,000 (in one of more business) in at least two of the four fiscal years immediately before the applicant is invited to apply
  • owned at least:
    • 51 per cent of a business with turnover of less than AUD400,000 per annum, or
    • 30 per cent of a business with turnover of more than AUD400,000 per annum, or
    • 10 per cent of a publicly-listed company
  • An overall successful business career with no involvement in unacceptable business activities
  • Managed a business, in which they spent less than half their time on professional, technical or trade services
  • A strong desire to own and maintain a management role in a business in Australia.

Investor stream

The applicant (or the applicant’s partner, or the applicant and the applicant’s partner combined) must:

  • Have a net value of at least AUD2.25 million for the two fiscal years immediately before the applicant is invited to apply
  • Have an overall successful record of eligible investment or qualifying business activity with no involvement in unacceptable activities
  • Have a high level of management skill in relation to eligible investments and/ or qualifying business activity
  • Have at least three years’ experience of direct involvement in managing one or more qualifying businesses or eligible investments
  • Make the government-approve designated investment before a visa can be granted
  • Have a genuine and realistic commitment to continuing the business and investment activity in Australia after the original investment has matured.

The applicant (or the applicant’s partner, or the applicant and the applicant’s partner combined) must also have had one of the following:

  • Direct involvement, for at least one of the five fiscal years the applicant is invited to apply, in managing the applicant’s eligible investments that total at least AUD1.5 million, or
  • Direct involvement, for at least one of the five fiscal years before the applicant is invited to apply, in managing a qualifying business in which the applicant owned at least 10 per cent of the total value of the business.

Significant Investor Stream

The applicant (or the applicant’s partner, or the applicant and the applicant’s partner combined) must:

  • Have a genuine and realistic commitment to reside in the nominating State or Territory
  • Make a complying investment or a complying significant investment of at least AUD5 million over four year
  • Not have been involved in unacceptable business or investment activities.

A complying significant investment must be made in the following proportions:

  • At least AUD500,000 in venture capital and growth private equity funds which invest in start-ups and small private companies
  • At least AUD1.5 million in approved managed funds investing in emerging companies listed on the Australian Stock Exchange
  • A ‘balancing investment’ of at least AUD3 million in managed funds that may invest in a range of assets, including ASX-listed companies, Australian corporate bonds or notes, annuities and commercial real estate.

Premium Investor Stream

The applicant (or the applicant’s partner, or the applicant and the applicant’s partner combined) must:

  • Have net assets of at least AUD15 million that have been legally acquired and can be legally transferred to Australia within two years of the visa being granted
  • Have a genuine and realistic commitment to continue their business and investment activities in Australia after the conclusion of their provisional visa
  • Not have been involved in unacceptable business or investment activities.

A complying investment of at least AUD15 million must be made 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.

Entrepreneur Stream

The applicant must 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 or
  • Purchase of an existing enterprise or a franchise in Australia.

The Complying Entrepreneurial Activity must 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.

The applicant must have held at least a 30 per cent interest in the entrepreneurial entity when the agreement was entered into.

Innovation points test requirements

The Business Innovation and Investment (Provisional) (Subclass 188) visa is subject to a points-tested pass mark of 65. The applicant must be less than 55 years of age, unless a State or Territory waive this requirement if the business proposal will be of exceptional economic benefit to that State or Territory.
Points are awarded to applicants for the following general attributes:

  • Age
  • English language ability
  • Qualifications
  • Experience in business or investment
  • Net personal and business assets
  • Business turnover
  • Innovation

Innovation Points Test – Points Allocation

Factor Description Points
Age 18-24 20
  25-32 30
  33-39 25
  40-44 20
  45-54 15
English Language Vocational or higher 5
  Proficient or higher 10
Qualification Australian trade certificate, Diploma or Bachelor degree or a Bachelor degree recognised by the Minister 5
  Bachelor Degree in Business, Science or Technology 10
Business experience Greater than four years business experience 10
  Greater than seven years business experience 15
Investment experience Greater than four years investment experience 10
  Greater than seven years investment experience 15
Financial metrics Net business and personal assets  
  AUD800 000 5
  AUD1.3 million 15
  AUD1.8 million 25
  AUD2.25 million 35
  Business turnover  
  AUD500 000 5
  AUD1 million 15
  AUD1.5 million 25
  AUD2 million 35
Innovation Registered patents or registered designs 15
  Evidence of trademarks 10
  Evidence of joint venture agreements 5
  Evidence of export trade 15
  Gazelle business 10
  Evidence of receipt of grants or venture capital funding 10
State or territory nomination Special endorsement (limited places) 10

The Innovation Points Test aims to encourage the creation of new businesses and investment in Australia which will generate employment, increase the export of Australian goods and services, introduce new or improved technology, increase competition and commercial activity and develop links with international markets.

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

This comprises five streams:

  • Business innovation stream
  • Investor stream
  • Significant Investor stream
  • Premium Investor stream
  • Entrepreneur stream

The applicant must be less than 55 years old, or the nominating State or Territory must provide their support to waive the age requirement.  They must meet the minimum business or investment requirements, submit an Expression of Interest in SkillSelect and meet the Innovation Points Test.

This enables Subclass 188 visa holders who have met the “specific business metrics or investment requirements” which are broadly “consistent with an indexed medium level of assets for Australian business owners” to apply for the Subclass 888 visa once the applicant satisfies the primary criteria including the ownership interest in their main business or main businesses.  Subclass 888 applicants must also comply with Australian laws applicable to business and taxation including workplace laws (award rates of pay, superannuation obligations and worker health and safety) and such like.

Complexity of Australia’s Immigration Laws

Australia’s immigration laws are highly codified, rule based and complex.  The law changes constantly and regularly. The legislative scheme includes layers of legislation and regulation. There are over 3,000 pages of legislation and over 20,000 pages of policy guidelines which provide direction and guidance to Departmental officers as to how they are to interpret and understand Australia’s immigration laws.

With the significant and ongoing demand for temporary and permanent entry to Australia, expert legal services and strategic and practical advice enables you to achieve the visa outcome that you desire.

Preparing to Apply

BDO Migration Services, an incorporated Immigration legal practice can help you with each aspect of the legal requirements including:

  • Expression of Interest
  • If invited to apply, the visa application
  • If the application requires nomination by a State or Territory Government, the nomination application
  • The extensive supporting documentation which is required including records and evidence relating to:
  • Work experience
  • Educational background
  • English skills
  • Business and investment experience
  • Advice on proposed business and/or investment activities in Australia; and
  • Such like.

BDO Migration Services can also work with business advisors and accountants to assist with all aspects of the visa process and supporting documentation.

As leaders in our field, BDO Migration Services can help with advice tailored to your situation, your needs and your desired outcome.

We provide full-service advice on all aspects of provisional and permanent Business Skills and Business Innovation and Investment Program Visas.  This includes expert and practical advice and assistance with monitoring, compliance and audit requirements.