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The Business Innovation and Investment Visa

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Note: The Business Innovation and Investment Programme is currently closed to new applications until further notice.

Australia’s Business Innovation and Investment Visa program has stirred significant debate in recent years. Launched in 2012, its intent was to draw foreign investment and entrepreneurial talent to Australia. However, the program has come under scrutiny for its potential vulnerabilities.

Australia's Investment Provisional Visa Subclass 188

The Business Innovation and Investment Visa encompasses several streams, with the primary aim to facilitate innovation and investment. The streams are as follows:

  1. Business Innovation Stream: This stream allows applicants with an existing business to relocate and grow their operations in Australia. It requires significant commitment to conduct business, boosting Australia’s economic benefit.
  2. Investor Stream: Applicants in this stream need to make a complying investment in Australia and continue business and investment activity.
  3. Significant Investor Stream: This stream focuses on those willing to invest significantly more, bringing a considerable amount of funds into Australia. It ensures compliance with set investment activities.
  4. Entrepreneur Stream: Focusing on entrepreneurial activity, this stream targets those with a funding agreement for proposed entrepreneurial activity.

Keeping Check: The Role of the Department of Home Affairs

Home Affairs is the primary body governing the investment provisional visa subclass 188. While it ensures that only legitimate and beneficial investments enter Australia, there have been concerns about the transparency and efficacy of their oversight.

For instance, data obtained via Freedom of Information indicates that since 2012, over 26,000 applicants have been successful, with a significant portion coming from China. Interestingly, the rejection rate remains low, with less than 2% of applications being turned down.

Addressing Concerns: Global Perspectives and Lessons

While ‘Golden Visas’ have been utilized globally to attract foreign investment, there are concerns about the potential misuse of such programs. The UK, for instance, phased out its golden visa scheme amid worries about illicit finance and fraud. Similarly, countries like Portugal and Greece, after attracting billions in investments, have reconsidered their stance due to concerns over money laundering.

Australia’s Business Innovation and Investment Visa, including its Significant Investor Stream, has similar vulnerabilities. There’s a need to ensure that while promoting business innovation and investment, the program doesn’t inadvertently allow in funds from questionable sources.

Importance of Economic Benefits & Business Activities

One of the key benefits touted for the Business Innovation and Investment program was the potential economic benefits to Australia. The intention behind investment provisional visa subclass 188 was clear: to stimulate Australia’s economy by attracting foreign funds and entrepreneurial talent.

However, it’s essential to differentiate between genuine business activities that add value to the economy and mere capital inflow without substantial economic benefit. The territory government agency and Home Affairs must ensure that funds entering Australia result in tangible business and investment activities, driving genuine growth.

The Way Forward

While it’s evident that the Business Innovation and Investment Visa can provide significant benefits, a balanced approach is needed. Stringent checks must ensure that investments are legitimate, align with Australia’s economic objectives, and don’t pose risks.

Clare O’Neil, the Home Affairs Minister, has expressed concerns over potential misuses and loopholes. As the world grapples with the challenges of illicit funds and money laundering, Australia’s approach to business innovation and investment must evolve.

To conclude, the Business Innovation and Investment program, including streams like Business Innovation Stream, Investor Stream, and Significant Investor Stream, holds the promise of driving growth in Australia. By ensuring transparency, stringent checks, and a focus on genuine business activities, Australia can maximize the benefits while mitigating potential risks.

Which visa should I apply for?

Deciding on the right visa depends on one’s business or investment intentions in Australia. The Business Innovation and Investment Visa program offers multiple streams catering to various entrepreneurial and investment needs. Those looking for business innovation may lean towards the business innovation stream, while those with substantial capital for investment might opt for the investor stream. Before applying, thoroughly evaluating your business goals, capital availability, and desired length of stay in Australia can guide you to the best choice.

ACT 188 nomination: Business Innovation and Investment

The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) offers nominations for the Business Innovation and Investment (Provisional) visa (subclass 188). The applicants must secure a nomination from a state or territory government agency, like ACT, before they can be invited to apply for this visa. To be nominated by the ACT, applicants must showcase their potential for significant economic benefit to the territory and possess a genuine commitment to maintain business or investment activities in the region.

Business Innovation and Investment (Provisional) visa (subclass 188)—Extension

Holders of the Business Innovation and Investment (Provisional) visa (subclass 188) can seek an extension if they require additional time to meet the criteria for a permanent visa. The business innovation extension stream allows such visa holders to stay in Australia for an additional two years, ensuring they can continue their business and investment activities and solidify their pathway to permanent residency.

Provisional visas

Provisional visas are temporary visas that act as a stepping stone towards permanent residency. In the context of business and investment, the provisional visa lets holders undertake business and investment activities in Australia for a specified period. These visas come with various streams, including the Business Innovation Stream and the Investor Stream, providing a diversified range of opportunities for entrepreneurs and investors from all backgrounds.

188 – Business Innovation Extension stream

The 188 – Business Innovation Extension stream is designed for those holding the provisional visa subclass 188 in the Business Innovation stream but need more time to meet the criteria for a permanent visa. This extension stream grants an additional two years in Australia, ensuring that holders can continue their business activities and further contribute to the Australian economy.

English language ability

Effective communication is crucial in business dealings. Therefore, for many Australian visas, including the Business Innovation and Investment visas, demonstrating an adequate level of English language proficiency is essential. Applicants might be required to provide evidence of their English language ability, typically through recognized tests like IELTS, PTE, or TOEFL. Some streams might have more lenient requirements, but having a good command of the English language will invariably be advantageous in business contexts.

188A The Business Innovation Stream

The 188A Business Innovation Stream is a part of the Business Innovation and Investment (Provisional) visa. It’s tailored for individuals who want to own and manage a new or existing business in Australia. To qualify, applicants must be nominated by a state or territory government agency. Key requirements include:

  • a successful business history,
  • a genuine commitment to running a business in Australia,
  • and the potential to bring innovation and economic benefits to the region.

Experience in business or investment

Experience plays a pivotal role when applying for the Business Innovation and Investment visa. For the Business Innovation stream, applicants should demonstrate a successful business career, while the Investor stream mandates a proven investment history. The Department of Home Affairs assesses experience by evaluating several criteria, such as the applicant’s management roles, yearly turnovers, and ownership stakes in businesses.

Investor stream

The Investor Stream, part of the provisional visa subclass 188, is designed for individuals willing to make a substantial complying investment in Australia and maintain that investment activity for the duration of their visa, and a benefit of this stream is its potential pathway to permanent residency. To qualify for this, applicants must be nominated by a state or territory government agency and demonstrate a history of successful investment activities.


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