Australian Business and Investor Visa Trends 2018

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Update 18/1/2018

The original article was written last week, but with some changes that came into effect on 17/1/2018, I wanted to highlight the below information.

With the consolidation of the Department of Immigration and Border Patrol (DIBP) into the newly formed Department of Home Affairs (DOHA), there have been some news in migration groups that they are pushing for stricter requirements at both the state and federal levels.

Although primarily for skilled migration, we can see this happening at the state level for the lower threshold investor and business visas.

Applicants should take advantage of the favourable environment that has carried over from the past 5 years of business and investor requirements while you still can – for example business visas (provisional) start at a turnover of AUD500k and investor stream visas (provisional) at AUD1.5 million.

If they remove these 2 visa subclasses, the requirements jump to AUD3 million turnover for business and AUD5 million investment for the investor visas.

We will go through some of these updates in our upcoming Australian business and investor visa seminar on January 26/27 2018. Please reserve a seat early as spaces are limited.

– end update –

Business and investor visas made up only a fraction of all visas approved in Australia in 2017, but it doesn’t mean they are any less important.

Although skilled and family migration fill the demand for skilled workers and for community demands respectively, bringing either businesses, or investment into the country spurs economic growth in its own way.

I tell clients that Australia is pro-business, with over 2 million businesses classified as an SME in a population of just over 24 million people. In contrast, somewhere like Thailand has about the same number of SMEs but with a population of 70 million.

In fact, although it sits as part of the Asia Pacific region, Australia operates just like any other developed Western country, with 10% SME to population size keeping it in line with statistics from both America and the United Kingdom who run at the same ratios.

So what do we see in the year ahead? Are major changes coming?

History Of The Business Visa – Recent Times

In 2012, the then Minister of Immigration and Citizenship announced major reforms to the Business Skills Migration Program that came into effect on 1 July 2012.

The Business Innovation and Investment Program superseded the Business Skills Migration Program on 1 July 2012, with the objective of attracting and increasing entrepreneurial talent and diversifying business expertise in Australia. At the time, the Australian Government introduced new measures to attract high-net-worth individuals willing to invest in Australia and add value to Australian exports and drive innovation as the ultimate goal.

The changes were the result of a far-reaching review of the Business Skills Migration Program by the Government to attract people who are prepared to make significant investments to enhance job opportunities for Australian citizens and residents as well as to boost Australia’s economic growth. With a world record growth record recently being achieved, you could say the business and investor visas contributed to some extent.

The changes were also a move to remain competitive with other countries around the world, including Canada, the UK and Singapore, in attracting capital investment from overseas investors.

Business Visa Changes 2018

No major changes to the main business visa subclasses have been announced recently, these being:

  • Business Talent (Permanent) (Subclass 132) – Significant Business History Stream
  • Business Innovation and Investment (Provisional) (Subclass 188) – Business Innovation Stream

They both currently maintain the soft ceiling of 55 years old (with waivers possible for older applicants) and they both maintain their current asset and turnover requirements. The visas remain as permanent residency and provisional residency visas respectively, with business creation or business investment still a post-visa-grant requirement.

Unlike the supply and demand for skilled workers, which influences the occupation ceilings for different occupation types, I have to assume that the net asset and turnover requirements have been means tested against other countries and is not a value that can easily be changed up and down without rational behind it.

I expect the asset and turnover requirements to remain unchanged in 2018.

However, state nomination requirements may change in the year, with some states requiring more business investment, or possibly varying their post-visa-grant requirements, for example requiring 3 permanent full time staff instead of 2 in some states.

I would expect this to only really occur in high-demand states like Victoria and New South Wales if it does happen at all. That would be highly unlikely considering both states will depend on migrant input to continue meeting their GDP growth targets.

South Australia is still a good option for many of our clients with their lower threshold for the subclass 132A visa investment (sitting at AUD600k) as they are obviously working towards attracting more business and investment to the state although when this push runs out only they really know.

Investor Visa Changes 2018

The world’s currencies and economies run off investment and various other financial metrics, the popular saying ‘money makes the world go around’ stands true to some effect. The visa subclasses in question:

  • Business Innovation and Investment (Provisional) (Subclass 188)
    • Investor Stream
    • Significant Investor Stream
    • Premium Investor Stream (invite only)

The bottom line is that investment into a country, whether it be job creation by directly starting a new business as you would be required to do for a business visa, or if it’s investing into government bonds and approved funds, as required for all investor visas, both create jobs in one way or another.

To this effect, I don’t foresee any major changes to the system for the near future, especially for the Significant and Premium investor visas, as they are aimed at a very targeted audience, so numbers of applications would be limited this year, as it would be every year – due to the nature of the investment involved.

For the lowest threshold visa, the AUD1.5 million investor visa, I don’t think this will change this year, but due to its relative ease of qualification in comparison to the other investor visas, could be subject to tapering, capping or lower selection by state nominations sometime in the distant future, ultimately this is up to the department of immigration and the various state governments.

Combined with the fact that you can choose either spouse to fulfil the Australian stay requirements to convert the visa from a provisional to a permanent one, applications would be by far higher than any of the other investor visa types.

Those who qualify for this visa stream should consider taking advantage of it while they can.

I don’t foresee the 55 year age limit being changed for the visas as Australia continues to seek dynamic migrants with younger families who generally spend more and spur the economy further, but for those who wish to apply who are older, the additional investment or qualification requirements may rise on a state by state basis depending on the economic situation of that given state.

As for the states in need of the most funds? I would argue that Western Australia due to the after effects of the commodities bust, which they are still recovering from, South Australia as they are pushing for stronger growth – after all they are still labelled ‘regional’ when Adelaide is a growing metropolitan city and possibly Queensland, although a lot of money has already made its way across the New South Wales border to the state, so I expect them to need to less of it.

That’s about all I can foresee happening in the near future, if you are keen to find out more about the business or investor visa programs, please get in contact with us below.

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2018-01-25T22:24:03+00:00

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