Business Innovation & Investment Visas

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

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

This visa is for business owners and investors with a successful overseas track record who are willing to invest into new or existing business in Australia or make a designated investment in an Australian state or territory government bond. The Business Innovation and Investment Visa is a provisional visa valid for four years and provides a pathway to permanent residency through Business Innovation and Investment (Permanent) (subclass 888) Visa.

This visa allows you to:

  • Establish a new or develop an existing business and/or invest in Australia, make a designated investment with an Australian state or territory government or make and maintain complying investments in Australia.
  • Travel in and out of Australia with your visa.
  • Bring family members with you to Australia.
  • Seek permanent residence by applying for a Business Innovation and Investment (Permanent) Visa (subclass 888) .

This visa has 5 streams

  • Business Innovation Stream
    For people with business skills who want to establish, develop and manage a new or existing business in Australia.
  • Investor Stream
    For people who want to make a designated investment of at least AUD1.5 million in an Australian state or territory and maintain business and investment activity in Australia.
  • Significant Investor Stream
    For people who are willing to invest at least AUD5 million into complying investments in Australia and want to maintain business and investment activity in Australia.
  • Premium Investor Stream
    For people who are willing to invest at least AUD15million into complying premium investments in Australia and want to maintain business and investment activity in Australia.
  • Entrepreneur Stream
    For people who have a funding agreement from a third party for at least AUD200 000 to undertake a complying entrepreneur activity that is proposed to lead to either the commercialisation of a product or service in Australia or the development of a business in Australia.

To be eligible for the Business Innovation and Investor stream you will be assessed against a points test and are required to meet at least 65 points. The Significant Investor Stream is not points tested.

Business Innovation Stream
  • You must be under 55 years of age, although a state or territory can waive this requirement if your proposed business will be of exceptional economic benefit to the nominating state or territory;
  • Score at least 65 on the Points Test ;
  • For two out of the four fiscal years immediately before you are invited to apply, have had an ownership interest in an established business or businesses that had at least AUD500 000 turnover in each of those years;
  • Own at least one of the following percentages of your nominated main business:
    • 51 per cent, if the business has a turnover of less than AUD400 000 per year.
    • 30 per cent, if the business has a turnover of AUD400 000 or more per year.
    • 10 per cent, if the business is a publicly listed company.
  • Have an overall successful business career;
  • Have a genuine desire to continuously own and maintain a management role in a business in Australia;
  • You, your partner, or you and your partner combined must have total net assets of at least AUD800 000 that are lawfully acquired and available for legal transfer to Australia within two years of the visa being granted;
  • You and your partner must have had no involvement in unacceptable business or investment activities.
Investor Stream
  • You must be under 55 years of age, although a state or territory can waive this requirement if your proposed investment will be of exceptional economic benefit to the nominating state or territory;
  • Score at least 65 on the Points Test ;
  • Have a high level of management skills in relation to the eligible investment or qualifying business activity;
  • Have at least three years’ experience of direct involvement in managing one or more qualifying businesses or eligible investments;
  • Have an overall successful record of eligible investment or qualifying business activity;
  • Have a genuine and realistic commitment to continuing your business and investment activity in Australia after the original investment has matured.
  • Have a genuine intention to live for at least two years in the state or territory in which you have made a designated investment;
  • You, your partner, or you and your partner combined must for at least one of the five fiscal years immediately before you are invited to apply, have directly managed one of the following:
    • A qualifying business in which you, your partner or you and your partner combined had at least 10 per cent ownership interest, or
    • Eligible investments owned by you, your partner or you and your partner combined of at least AUD1.5million.
  • During the two fiscal years immediately before you are invited to apply, have legally acquired net business, investment and personal assets of at least AUD2.25 million that are available for legal transfer to Australia within two years of the visa being granted;
  • Make a designated investment of at least AUD1.5 million in a state or territory government security using unencumbered funds accumulated from qualifying businesses or eligible investments and be prepared to hold that investment for at least four years from date of issue in your nominating state or territory;
  • Have had no involvement in unacceptable activities.
Significant Investor Stream

Please note that the rules that were in force at the time that you applied for your Significant Investor visa will continue to apply for the duration of your provisional visa, including any Extension stream visas you apply for that relate to that provisional visa.

You must have a genuine and realistic commitment to:

  • reside in the state or territory whose government agency nominated you,
  • continue your business and investment activity in Australia after the conclusion of your provisional visa,
  • live in Australia for at least 40 days per year (calculated cumulatively) for the duration of your provisional visa, or your spouse to live for at least 180 days per year (calculated cumulatively) for the duration of your provisional visa.

You, your partner, or you and your partner combined must have net assets of at least AUD5 million that are legally acquired, unencumbered, and available to be used to make the complying investment in Australia.

You and your partner must not have been involved in unacceptable business or investment activities.

You, members of your family unit aged at least 18 must agree not to bring any action against the Commonwealth for any loss relating to your complying investment.

Income that you earn from your complying investment in Australia is subject to tax under Australian taxation law.

You must also make a complying investment or a complying significant investment of at least AUD5 million over four years.

Important: You might want to seek independent legal advice in relation to ensuring that an investment made for the purpose of this stream is a ‘complying significant investment’. It is your responsibility to ensure your investment options comply.

Complying Significant Investments for applications made after 1 July 2015

If you applied for a Significant Investor visa prior to 1 July 2015, see the rules below, which will continue to apply to you.

For applications made after July 2015 you must make a complying significant investment of at least AUD5 million over four years 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.

Direct investment in residential real estate continues to be prohibited and indirect investment in residential property through managed funds is now strictly limited.

Investments must not be used as security or collateral for a loan.

More detailed information about complying significant investments is available at Austrade.

Premium Investor Stream

The Premium Investor stream is by nomination of Austrade on behalf of the Australian government only. You must make a complying investment of at least AUD15 million 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.

Income that you earn from your complying investment in Australia is subject to tax under Australian taxation law.

You must also have a genuine and realistic commitment to continue your business and investment activity in Australia after the conclusion of your provisional visa.

You, your partner (spouse or de facto), or you and your partner combined must have net assets of at least AUD15 million that are legally acquired, unencumbered, and available to be used to make the complying investment in Australia.

You and your partner must not have been involved in unacceptable business or investment activities.

You, your partner and other family members aged at least 18 must agree not to bring any action against the Commonwealth for any loss relating to your complying investment.

Entrepreneur Stream

You must:

  • be under 55 years of age, although a state or territory can waive this requirement if your proposed complying entrepreneur activity will be of exceptional economic benefit to the nominating state or territory
  • have competent English and be able to provide evidence of this at the time you are invited to apply for the visa
  • 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
  • Purchase of an existing enterprise or a franchise in Australia.

An activity is a complying entrepreneur activity if all of the following requirements are met:

  • you 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
  • under the agreement at least 10 per cent of the funding must be payable to the entrepreneurial entity within 12 months of the day the activity starts to be undertaken in Australia;
  • You held at least 30 per cent interest in your entrepreneurial entity when you entered into the agreement.
  • You have a business plan for the entrepreneurial entity noting how your innovative idea will lead to the commercialisation of a product or service in Australia, or the development of an enterprise or business in Australia.

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

The Business Innovation and Investment (Permanent) Visa (subclass 888) is the second stage of the Business Innovation and Investment (Provisional) Visa (subclass 188). You can apply for it after you have fulfilled the requirements of your provisional visa.

This visa will allow you to:

  • Continue to own and manage a business in Australia (the Business Innovation stream).
  • Continue business and investment activity in Australia (the Investor stream and the Significant Investor stream).
Business Innovation Stream

Under the Business Innovation stream, you must have been in Australia and held the following for at least one year in the two years immediately before you apply:

  • A Business Innovation and Investment (Provisional) Visa (subclass 188) in the Business Innovation stream or the Business Innovation Extension stream;
  • A Special Category Visa (subclass 444);
  • A Business (Long Stay) Visa (subclass 457IE).

In addition, you must be able to show ongoing business involvement, meet certain financial requirements, and have a history of employing Australian workers.

Ongoing Business Involvement

You must be able to show that you (or you and your partner together) have:

  • Had an ownership interest (and continue to have an ownership interest) and a direct and continuous management role in an actively operating main business (or main businesses) in Australia for the two years immediately before you apply;
  • Had an annual turnover of at least AUD300 000 from the main business (or businesses) in the 12 months before you apply. (A nominating state or territory might agree to waive the requirement to show an annual turnover of AUD300 000 if you live and operate business in a specified regional area of Australia);
  • Owned at least one of the following percentages of the main business (or main businesses) in Australia in the year immediately before you apply:
    • 51 per cent of a business with a turnover of less than AUD400 000 per year.
    • 30 per cent of a business with a turnover of AUD400 000 or more per year.
    • 10 per cent of a publicly listed company.
  • Obtained an Australian Business Number for each of your main businesses;
  • Submitted Business Activity Statements to the Australian Taxation Office for the two years immediately before you apply;
  • Not acquired the ownership in your main business (or two main businesses) from a person who was an applicant for, or a holder of, a permanent Business Innovation and Investment Visa (subclass 888) or a permanent business skills visa (in subclasses 890, 891, 892 or 893), unless you and that person had a joint interest in the main business for at least one year before you lodged your application for this visa.

You (or your partner, or you and your partner together) must also demonstrate that you have achieved at least two of the following requirements:

  • A net value of business assets of at least AUD200 000 in your nominated main business (or two main businesses) in Australia throughout the year immediately before you apply;
  • a net value of personal and business assets of at least AUD600 000 in Australia throughout the year immediately before you apply;
  • employed at least the equivalent of two full-time employees in your main business (or main businesses), throughout the year immediately before you apply who are:
    • Australian citizens, Australian permanent residents, or holders of valid New Zealand passports
    • Not your family members.
Investor Stream

Under the Investor stream, you must have been in Australia and held your provisional visa for at least two of the four years immediately before you apply. In addition, you (or you and your partner combined) must have held a designated investment with an Australian state or territory for at least four years.

Significant Investor Stream

If you are seeking to satisfy the permanent visa (subclass 888) in the Significant Investor stream, you must have held at the time of application:

  • A provisional visa (subclass 188) in the Significant Investor stream or in the Significant Investor Extension stream.

You must have been in Australia as the holder of a provisional visa (subclass 188):

  • In the Significant Investor stream—160 days in the past four years;
  • In the Significant Investor Extension stream (one extension) —240 days in the past six years;
  • In the Significant Investor Extension stream (two extensions) —320 days in the past eight years.

In addition, you (or you and your partner combined) must have:

  • Held the complying investments continuously for at least 4 years while holding your Business Innovation and Investment (Provisional) Visa (subclass 188);
  • Operated a qualifying business under the private Australian company in which you have made a direct complying investment if applicable.
Premium Investor Stream

If you are applying for a permanent visa (subclass 888) in the Premium Investor stream, you must have held a provisional visa (subclass 188) in the Premium Investor stream at the time of application and be nominated by the Commonwealth government.

You must have held your provisional visa for a minimum of 1 year.

You (or you and your partner combined) must have held complying premium investments continuously for at least 1 year, and for the entire time you have held your Business Innovation and Investment (Provisional) visa (subclass 188).

Entrepreneur Stream

If you are applying for this visa in the Entrepreneur stream, you must have been in Australia and held your provisional visa in the Entrepreneur stream for a continuous period of at least four years immediately before you apply.

In addition, you must be able to demonstrate a successful record of entrepreneurial activities in Australia.


This Is Australia provides a range of professional services to our clients. For a personalised, yet professional service, contact our migration agents via our enquire now page or call our Queensland office on (07) 5592 0755.