188 Visa — Business Innovation & Investment Visa

What is a 188 Visa?

In a nutshell, the 188 Visa or Business Innovation and Investment visa is a temporary visa for business owners, entrepreneurs and investors. The 188 Visa allows you to own and manage a business, make an investment or undertake an entrepreneurial activity in Australia.

There are five different 188 visas (referred to as streams) that provide a pathway to obtain either a business, entrepreneur or investment visas (please click the type you wish to learn more about below)

This visa provides a pathway to the subclass 888 visa, which is a permanent business innovation and investment visa. In some circumstances, it is also possible to extend your existing subclass 188 visa for up to 4 years.

When applying for a subclass 188 visa, you must select an Australian State or Territory where you will conduct your business, investment or entrepreneurial activity. It is likely that you will also be required to live in the State or Territory where you will undertake these activities. You will need to receive a nomination from this State or Territory to be eligible for a subclass 188 visa.

Some of the 188 visa streams requires you to undertake a points test (see below) and is only open to applicants upon being nominated by a state or territory government, or Austrade on behalf of the Australian Government. In addition to being nominated, applicants must also have received an invitation by the Department, once the Expression of Interest has been lodged. 

The Three-Step 188 Visa Application Process

The process of applying for a subclass 188 visa varies depending on the type of subclass 188 visa that you are applying for. 

However, applying for a subclass 188 visa is generally a three-step process: 

Step One

SUBMITTING AN EXPRESSION OF INTEREST (EOI) VIA SKILLSELECT

The first thing you ​must​ do when applying for a subclass 188 visa is to submit an EOI via ​SkillSelect (Login Here) ​unless you are applying for a subclass 188D visa​ (see below)​.

When submitting an EOI for a subclass 188A (Business Innovation Stream) or subclass 188B  (Investor Stream) visa, you will be asked to state the amount of points you have.

The test gives points for various elements of human capital and business innovation and includes  objective measures of business performance.

Points are awarded for:

  • Business Turnover
  • Age
  • English language ability
  • Qualifications
  • Endorsement
  • Experience in Business or Investment
  • Net Personal and Business Assets
  • Innovation

Find out more about the points test here

As part of your EOI, you must also select the Australian State or Territory that you are seeking a  nomination from. Once you have completed your EOI it will be stored in SkillSelect and is valid for  2 years. Incomplete EOIs will also be stored for 2 years so you can go back at any time to complete  the EOI, but until such point you will not be eligible to receive an invitation.

immigration-blog-5

Step Two

Australia immigration

THE NOMINATION PROCESS

Once you’ve submitted your EOI, you may now receive an invitation from the State or Territory  you selected to submit a nomination application.

Each State and Territory will have their own eligibility requirements that you must meet to  receive a nomination from them. If you meet these requirements, then the State or Territory may  provide you with a nomination for a subclass 188 visa.

View The Requirements for Each State and Territory Here

***​Please note that the information above ​Does Not Apply to a subclass 188D Visa​ (Premium Investor  Stream). To be eligible to apply for a subclass 188d visa (Premium Investor Stream), you will need to be  nominated by the CEO of Austrade. A State or Territory cannot nominate you for a subclass 188d visa  (Premium Investor Stream).

Step Three

VISA APPLICATION

Once you’ve received a nomination for a subclass 188 visa from a State/Territory or the CEO of  Austrade you may now receive an invitation from the ​Department of Home Affairs to apply for a  subclass 188 visa.

NOTE:​ You must apply for your visa within ​60 days​ of receiving this invitation.

***Please note that this time limit does not apply to those who have been nominated by the CEO of  Austrade to apply for a subclass 188D visa (Premium Investor Stream).

If the Department determines that you meet the relevant criteria for a subclass 188 visa  application, then your visa application may be granted.

immigration-blog

Subclass 188 Visa: Criteria

To be eligible for a subclass 188 visa you must meet the relevant visa criteria for the subclass 188 visa stream that you are applying for. Below is a checklist of the requirements for each subclass 188 visa stream.

Please note that this is not an exhaustive list, and that the migration laws and policies that  determine the relevant requirements for a subclass 188 visa may change at any time. 

Subclass 188 Visa: Common Criteria

There are common criteria that apply to all of the subclass 188 visa streams. You must meet these criteria to be eligible for a subclass 188 visa. The common criteria are as follows:

  1. You and your spouse/de facto partner do not have a history of involvement in business or investment activities that are of a nature that is not generally acceptable in  Australia;
  2. The State, Territory, or the CEO of Austrade that has nominated you to apply for a  subclass 188 visa, has not withdrawn their nomination; and
  3. You meet the relevant public interest criterion and special return criteria

Subclass 188A Visa: Business Innovation Stream Criteria

The subclass 188A visa (Business Innovation Stream) allows you to operate a new or existing business in Australia. You can hold a subclass 188A visa (Business Innovation Stream) for up to 4  years and 3 months.

In addition to the common criteria outlined above, the checklist below refers to the set requirements that you will need to meet to be eligible for a subclass 188A visa.

  1. You must be less than 55 years old, unless the nominating State or Territory has determined that your business will provide an exceptional economic benefit;
  2. You have at least 65 points for the Points Test and the amount of points you are claiming is the same number of points you nominated when you submitted your EOI;
  3. There is a need for you to reside in Australia to establish or conduct your proposed  business activity;
  4. You have an overall successful business career;
  5. For at least 2 of the 4 fiscal years before receiving your invitation to apply for a  subclass 188A visa (Business Innovation Stream), you had an ownership interest in one  or more established main businesses that had an annual turnover of at least  $500,000AUD;
  6. If one or more of your businesses provided professional, technical or trade services, for at least 2 of the 4 fiscal years before receiving your invitation to apply for a subclass  188A visa, you were directly engaged in the provision of the services for no more than half the time spent managing the day to day activities of the business;
  7. When receiving your invitation to apply for a subclass 188A visa, you and your spouse/de facto partner held business and personal assets worth at least $800,000AUD;
  8. You have sufficient funds to settle in Australia;
  9. You and your spouse/de facto partner have business and personal assets that were lawfully acquired and can be transferred to Australia within 2 years of receiving your  subclass 188A visa;
  10. You have a genuine and realistic commitment to establish a qualifying business in Australia or participate in an existing qualifying business in Australia; and
  11. You have a genuine and realistic commitment to maintain a substantial ownership interest in the qualifying business and maintain a direct and continuous involvement in the management of the qualifying business from day to day

Subclass 188B Visa: Investor Stream Criteria

The subclass 188B visa (Investor Stream) allows you to carry out a business and investment activity in Australia. You can hold a subclass 188A visa for up to 4 years and 3 months.

You must meet the criteria mentioned in the checklist below as well as the common criteria mentioned above, to be eligible for a subclass 188B visa.

  1. You must be less than 55 years old, unless the nominating State or Territory has determined that your business will provide an exceptional economic benefit;
  2. You have at least 65 points for the Points Test and the amount of points you are claiming is the same number of points you nominated when you submitted your EOI;
  3. You have an overall successful record of eligible investment or qualifying business activities;
  4. You have at least 3 years’ experience of direct involvement in managing one or more qualifying businesses or eligible investments;
  5. You have high levels of management skills in relation to eligible investment or qualifying business activities;
  6. For at least 1 of the 5 fiscal years before you received an invitation to apply for a subclass 188B Investor Stream Visa, you maintained direct involvement in managing a qualifying business and you and your spouse or de facto partner had an ownership interest of at least 10% of the total value of the business;
  7. For at least 1 of the 5 fiscal years before you received an invitation to apply for a subclass 188B Visa, you maintained direct involvement in managing you or your spouse  or de facto partners eligible investments, and that total net value of these investments was $1,500,000AUD plus;
  8. When receiving your invitation to apply for a subclass 188B visa, you and your spouse or de facto partner held business and personal assets worth at least $2,250,000AUD;
  9. You have made a designated investment of at least $1,500,000 in the State or Territory that has nominated you to apply for a subclass 188B visa (Investor Stream), and this  investment came from funds that arose from a qualifying business or investment  activity that you and your spouse or de facto partner were a part of;
  10. You and your spouse or de facto partner, have business and personal assets that were lawfully acquired and can be transferred to Australia within 2 years of receiving your  subclass 188b visa (Investment Stream);
  11. You have a genuine and realistic commitment to continue to maintain business or investment activities in Australia after your investment worth at least $1,500,000AUD matures; and
  12. You have a genuine intention to reside in the State or Territory that you made your investment worth at least $1,500,000AUD to for at least 2 years.

Subclass 188C Visa: Significant Investor Stream Criteria

The subclass 188c visa (Significant Investor Stream) is an investor visa that allows you to carry out an investment activity in Australia. You can also hold your subclass 188c visa (Significant Investor  Stream) for up to 4 years and 3 months.

You must meet the common criteria, and the following requirements, to be eligible for a subclass 188c visa (Significant Investor Stream).

  1. You can make a complying significant investment worth at least $5,000,000AUD;
  2. You can verify the source of these funds;
  3. You have a genuine intention to hold this investment for at least 4 years;
  4. You, and any other persons applying for a subclass 188c visa (Significant Investor Stream) with you who are over 18, have completed a Form 1412; and

Either yourself, or your spouse/de facto partner have a genuine intention to reside in the State or Territory that nominated you to apply for a subclass 188c visa (Significant Investor Stream)

 

Subclass 188D Visa: Premium Investor Stream Criteria

The subclass 188D visa (Premium Investor Stream) is another investment visa that allows you to carry out a business and investment activity in Australia. You can hold a subclass 188D visa (Premium Investor Stream) for up to 4 years and 3 months.

If you meet the common criteria (mentioned above) and the criteria below, you may be eligible for a subclass 188D Premium Investor Visa.

  1. You can make a complying premium investment worth at least $15,000,000;
  2. You have a genuine intention to hold the complying premium investment for the whole visa period; and
  3. You, and any other persons applying for a subclass 188D Premium Investor Visa with you who are over 18, have completed a Form 141

Subclass 188E Visa: Entrepreneur Stream Criteria

A subclass 188E visa (Entrepreneur Stream) is an entrepreneur visa that allows you to carry out entrepreneurial activity in Australia. 

A subclass 188E Entrepreneur visa can be held for up to 4  years and 3 months.

The common criteria (mentioned above) and the following criteria must be met if you are to be eligible to apply for a subclass 188E visa (Entrepreneur Stream).

  1. You must be less than 55 years old, unless the nominating State or Territory has determined that your business will provide an exceptional economic benefit;
  2. You have competent English language abilities;
  3. You have a genuine intention to undertake a complying entrepreneurial activity and you have a funding agreement of at least $200,000AUD to carry out this entrepreneurial activity;
  4. You have a business plan for your entrepreneurial activity; and
  5. You have sufficient funds to settle in Australia.