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Articles: Significant Investor Visa

31 January 2017

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

The Significant Investor Visa is part of the Business Innovation and Investment Program which aims to attract successful investors and entrepreneurs to invest in Australia.

BDO Migration Services, an incorporated immigration legal practice provides 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.

The Significant Investor stream requires an investment of at least AUD 5,000,000 in complying investments.

As Australia’s immigration laws are complex, the following is a summary overview on the Significant Investor Visa.

  • This requires a threshold amount of at least AUD 5,000,000 in a complying investment. 
  • Applicants must invest in complying investments which are:
    1. Commonwealth, State or Territory government bonds: there are no specific requirements of the terms and purposes of the bonds being issues.
    2. Direct investment to a private Australian company which operates a qualifying business through the provision of good and services not listed on the Australian Stock Exchange and where the applicant obtains an ownership interest in the company.

      Ownership Interest’ means an interest that the applicant has in the business as a shareholder in a company, or a partner in a partnership, or the sole proprietor of the business, and this interest can be held through a company, partnership or trust.

      Qualifying Business’ means a business that provides goods and/or services to the public.  It must be operated for the purpose of profit although it does not have to be operated at a profit.
    3. Certain managed funds: these funds will be limited to invest in the following categories:
      1. infrastructure projects in Australia
      2. cash held by Australian deposit taking institutions
      3. bonds issued by the Commonwealth Government or by a State or Territory government
      4. bonds, equity, hybrids and other corporate debt in Australian companies and trusts listed on the Australian Stock Exchange
      5. bonds or term deposits issued by Australian financial institutions
      6. real estate in Australia
      7. Australian agribusiness and
      8. other managed funds that invest in the above list of investments.
  • Excluded investments include:
    1. Any business of providing rental property
    2. Speculative investments as for example buying/ selling of financial derivatives, commodity future contracts, margin trading and trading in antiques, properties and shares
    3. Passive investments including capital gains from the purchase and sale of capital assets such as real estate.
  • Ownership of complying investments require the complying investments to be owned:
    1. Directly by the applicant or the applicant and their partner together, or
    2. Through a company where the total amount of issued shares are owned by the applicant or the applicant and their partner together, or
    3. Through a trust where the trustee is the applicant or the applicant and their partner and the beneficiary is the applicant or the applicant and their partner.
  • Source of funds of complying investments provide the Department of Immigration and Border Protection with the discretion to scrutinise the source of the funds as part of an assessment of complying investments.
  • Management of complying investments does not require the applicant to have direct management however the applicant may be required to provide evidence that the investment is made genuinely and not contrived for migration purposes.  The success or otherwise of the complying investments is not relevant to an assessment of that purpose.
  • The Applicant lodges an online Expression of Interest and once invited to lodge their Subclass 188 visa application, the Applicant must make the application within 60 days.
  • The Applicant must wait until they receive an invitation letter from the Department to make the investment which invitation letter will be provided once all other criteria has been met.
  • The Applicant has 70 days from the date of the invitation letter to make the complying investment in order for the Subclass 188 visa to be granted.

The Significant Investor stream offers significant concessions to the Applicant in regard to their period of stay in Australia while the holder of the Subclass 188 visa. The Applicant must have been in Australia for a cumulative period of 40 days for each year or part year that they hold the visa. This means that the Applicant is only required to spend a total of 160 days as the holder of a Subclass 188 visa before they are eligible to make the Business Innovation and Investment (Permanent) (Subclass 888) visa provided they have maintained their investment during the 4 year period and meet the relevant permanent residency criteria.

Preparing to Apply

As specialists in immigration law, BDO Migration Services can help you with each aspect of the legal requirements including:

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

BDO Migration Services can also work with your business advisers and accountants to assist with all aspects of the visa process and their required extensive supporting documentation.

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