If you are looking to set-up and manage, or invest in, a business in Australia, or you are seeking to develop an innovative product or service for commercialisation, you may like to consider applying for the Business Innovation and Investment subclass 188 visa. This visa class comprises two streams, depending on your proposed business activity, and allows you to temporarily reside in Australia for 4 years and 3 months to enable you to conduct your business activity. Certain streams also allow you to extend your temporary stay in Australia if you satisfy specified requirements.

The subclass 188 visa may also provide a pathway to permanent residence later down the track, via the Innovation and Investment (Permanent) subclass 888 visa. When you become eligible to apply will depend on the stream under which you apply but will generally be between 1 to 4 years after grant of the subclass 188 visa.

Note that this visa class requires nomination by a State or Territory Government agency, both at the temporary stage when applying for the subclass 188 visa, and then again before you can apply for permanent residence.

If you would like to establish a business in Australia, you might also be eligible for the Business Talent subclass 132 visa. This is likely a more attractive option as it entitles you to immediate permanent residence in Australia following visa grant. It comprises two streams and requires State or Territory Government nomination approval. You will also be subject to a review 2 years following visa grant, to confirm that you have met your obligations as declared in your nomination and visa applications. Failure to meet your responsibilities can lead to your visa being revoked.

Note that each State and Territory Government sets its own requirements for granting nomination approval and will impose additional obligations which you will need to abode by as a visa holder.  

As part of your application, you will be required to provide specified financial evidence to demonstrate that you meet the requirements for both nomination approval and for visa grant. The types of financial documents required will depend on the stream under which you apply and which State or Territory Government you submit your application with. It is important to ensure that you supply these documents at the time of lodgement of your application as failing to do so can result in processing delays or potentially a refusal.

In this article, we provide a general overview of the types of financial documents which you will need to provide to satisfy visa grant requirements under the business visa programme. This discussion concentrates on financial documentary requirements and is a summary only. It is beyond the scope of this article to provide a detailed and exhaustive document listing for all financial document requirements and we therefore strongly recommend if you are seeking to apply for a business visa, that you make the proper further enquires before lodging your application to ensure that you get the correct detail on these requirements, as they apply to your individual circumstances. To illustrate the importance of this, we present as an example the provision of financial statements, being one type of financial document that is required in most cases. It is not sufficient, for instance, to provide internal management accounts. Financial statements must be prepared by an independent accountant according to International Accounting Standards and must include a balance sheet, profit and loss statement and notes to the accounts. Another important aspect is the date of relevant documents as well as the period that they cover. This level of detail is very important for you to be aware of as you prepare your application for lodgement. The Department has no obligation to follow-up with you post-lodgement where documents are missing or are in the incorrect form, etc. It can automatically decide to refuse your application.

A further point to note is that for a successful visa application, you will need to provide:

  • documents to address all visa grant requirements (financial documents form only one part of your application).
  • documents to address all requirements for nomination approval to the State or Territory for which you are seeking nomination approval (note these may differ from Immigration requirements). As these documentary evidence requirements vary for each jurisdiction, it is very important that you check with the relevant State or Territory authority as they apply to your application.

We have prepared the following information as an introduction which is designed to help guide you in this process. We therefore strongly recommend that before you apply for any visa, that you make the proper further enquires to ensure that you are fully informed about the business visa grant requirements and how they apply to you based on your individual circumstances. This will give your application the best chance of a successful outcome and avoid unnecessary processing delays or a potential visa refusal, and the associated lost time and costs incurred that would be the outcome.

Business Innovation and Investment Visa

The subclass 188 visa comprises the following streams:

  • Business Innovation
  • Investor
  • Significant Investor
  • Premium Investor
  • Entrepreneur

Note there are additional streams that apply in cases where you can seek to extend the temporary visa (an option that is available under the Business Innovation and Significant Investor streams).

The visa application process involves first submitting an Expression of Interest (EOI) which, if successful, will result in receipt of an invitation to apply for the visa. You must also receive approval from a State or Territory Government agency which agrees to nominate you (note the nomination application is made at the same time as you submit your EOI). The final step in the application process will then be to apply for the visa.

For a successful application, you will need to meet three sets of requirements, as follows:

  • Requirements for nomination approval, which will differ for each State and Territory (application made to the relevant nominating authority);
  • Requirements for lodging a valid EOI (application made to Immigration); and
  • Requirements for visa grant (application made to Immigration).

If you apply under either the Business Innovation or Investor streams, a further requirement for visa grant is to achieve a score of at least 65 points in the points test. Under this test, you will be allocated a score based on such factors as your age, qualifications, the financial value of your assets (combined with your partner) and business turnover over the last 4 years. A detailed discussion about the points test is beyond the scope of this article and we recommend that you seek further advice where this is applicable to you.

Business Innovation stream

Set out below is a summary of the types of financial documents which you will need to provide to satisfy Immigration requirements for visa grant under the Business Innovation stream.

  • Evidence of the net value of your business and personal assets (this will depend on the type of asset held but can include bank statements for cash assets, certificate of title or title deed for real estate, share or debentures certificates, or a trust deed for assets held in a trust)
  • Evidence of business ownership, such as company extract, annual return and certificate of registration for a company, or a partnership/franchise agreement or trust deed (this will depend on the business type)
  • Evidence of your ownership in the business (e.g. share register)
  • Business registration or license for the business
  • Financial statements for your business for 2 of the 4 financial years immediately before you are invited to apply for the visa (must include a balance sheet, profit and loss statement and notes to the accounts)
  • Where applicable, if any of your businesses have generated a loss, have been or currently are insolvent or subject to receivership or liquidation, or have been subject to bankruptcy, provide relevant evidence and detail
  • Evidence that you and your partner (combined) hold total net business and personal assets of at least $800,000 (must be legally acquired and able to be transferred to Australia within 2 years of visa grant)
  • Summary statement outlining all your and your partner’s assets and liabilities in the 3 months before you are invited to apply for the visa
  • Evidence of your ownership of each asset, its value, and liabilities against the asset (if applicable). Documents required will depend on the type of asset held but can include bank statements for cash assets, certificate of title or title deed for real estate, share or debentures certificates, or a trust deed for assets held in a trust. Note this will also need to be accompanied, and cross-referenced to, a specified form which you must complete, and which outlines your assets and liabilities
  • A business plan which details your intentions and efforts to actively participate in and manage the qualifying business (this must include a description about your proposed business activities in Australia and how they will benefit Australia economically)

Note there are also further financial documentary requirements that relate to the points test. The types of financial documents required will depend on the aspect of the points test which you are seeking to claim. If this applies to you, we recommend that you seek further information regarding this evidence as it applies to your individual circumstances.

Investor stream

Set out below is a summary of the types of financial documents which you will need to provide to satisfy Immigration requirements for visa grant under the Investor stream.

  • Evidence of the net value of your business and personal assets (this will depend on the type of asset held but can include bank statements for cash assets, certificate of title or title deed for real estate, share or debentures certificates, or a trust deed for assets held in a trust)
  • Evidence of business ownership, such as company extract, annual return and certificate of registration for a company, or a partnership/franchise agreement or trust deed (this will depend on the business type)
  • If applicable to your circumstances, if any of your businesses have generated a loss, have been or currently are insolvent or subject to receivership or liquidation, or have been subject to bankruptcy, provide relevant evidence and detail
  • Evidence of your management and ownership in a qualifying business (if applicable) such as your share purchase/share register or a partnership/trust/franchise agreement, statement of your management of the business for one of the last 5 years documenting your involvement in daily management and a business registration or license
  • Evidence of your management or ownership of $1,500,00 in eligible investments (if applicable) including:
  • a summary of eligible investments (for 1 of the last 5 years) which includes their net value and a statement regarding the management of each investment
  • management of eligible investments (this will depend on the type of investment but would include evidence that you have managed the performance of the business or have been involved in the management of the business if the investment is ownership in a business)
  • ownership of eligible investments (this will depend on the type of investment but can include a share or company register if the investment is ownership in a business)
  • Evidence of the net value of each eligible investment for the last 5 years
  • Note this will also need to be accompanied by, and cross-referenced to, a specified form which you must complete, and which outlines your assets and liabilities
  • Source of funds used to make the designated investment, including:
  • evidence of liabilities (if any) against each investment (for example, a mortgage or loan)
  • evidence that funds proposed to be used to make the designated investment were accumulated from qualifying business or eligible investment activities (for example, evidence of dividends or profit retained in the business and available for distribution, or a loan
  • note these amounts will need to be cross-referenced to a specified for, which you must complete, outlining your assets and liabilities
  • Evidence of your ownership of assets with a minimum total net value of $2,250,000 at specified points in time. This will depend on the type of asset held but can include bank statements for cash assets, certificate of title or title deed for real estate, share or debentures certificates, or a trust deed for assets held in a trust. Note this will also need to be accompanied by, and cross-referenced to, a specified form which you must complete, and which outlines your assets and liabilities

Note there are also further financial documentary requirements that relate to the points test. The types of financial documents required will depend on the aspect of the points test which you are seeking to claim. If this applies to you, we recommend that you seek further information regarding this evidence as it applies to your individual circumstances.

Significant Investor stream

Set out below is a summary of the types of financial documents which you will need to provide to satisfy Immigration requirements for visa grant under the Significant Investor stream.

  • Evidence of ownership of assets with a minimum value of $5,000,000 that are proposed to be used to make the complying investments, as well as liabilities recorded against each asset (where applicable). The evidence required will depend on the type of asset held but can include bank statements for cash assets, certificate of title or title deed for real estate, share or debentures certificates, or a trust deed for assets held in a trust. note these amounts will need to be cross-referenced to a specified for, which you must complete, outlining your assets and liabilities
  • Signed declaration on your proposed method of fund transfer to make the complying investments
  • Overview of your complying investment intentions in Australia, including an outline of intended investments and/or business activities in Australia
  • Signed declaration on the source of funds of your assets and confirming all have been lawfully acquired, with supporting evidence to substantiate your claims
  • Specified evidence that you have made the complying significant investments

Premium Investor stream

This visa stream is targeted at a small number of individuals with at least $15,000,000 to invest, and who can translate that investment and their entrepreneurial skills and talents into areas which deliver a long-term economic benefit to Australia.

Immigration is highly selective in determining whether applicants meet the requirements for this stream and has appointed the Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade) as the organisation responsible for managing the process of identifying, targeting and attracting potential applicants for this purpose. It is available at the invitation of the Australian Government only requires nomination by Austrade.

Austrade sets its own requirements when assessing whether to invite an individual under this stream and will consider referrals from State and Territory Governments. Note that it does not accept unsolicited expressions of interest from the general public.

Given the nature of this visa stream and the role of Austrade in this process, the Department has not published a document checklist for this type of application. If you are selected as a potential applicant, documentary requirements will be advised to you by the relevant authority at that time. 

Entrepreneur stream

Set out below is a summary of the types of financial documents which you will need to provide to satisfy Immigration requirements for visa grant under the Entrepreneur stream.

  • Funding agreement
  • Business plan
  • Statement of your ownership interest in the entrepreneurial entity

Pathway to Permanent Residency

After you have held the temporary subclass 188 visa for a certain length of time, you may then be able to apply for permanent residency via the subclass 888 if you meet certain requirements. Depending on which stream you apply under will determine when you can apply for the permanent residence visa, and the type of financial documents which will be required both for nomination approval and visa grant.

Business Talent Visa

This visa is designed for applicants who wish to establish a new business or develop an existing business in Australia. The process involves first submitting an EOI which, if successful, will result in receiving an invitation to apply for the visa. You must also receive approval from an Australian State or Territory Government agency.

The subclass 132 visa consists of 2 streams:

  • Significant Business History stream
  • Venture Capital Entrepreneur stream

Note that there is no points test for this visa.

Significant Business History stream

Set out below is a summary of the types of financial documents which you will need to provide to satisfy Immigration requirements for visa grant under the Significant Business History stream.

  • Evidence that you and your partner (combined) hold total net business and personal assets of at least $1,500,000 (legally acquired and able to be transferred to Australia within 2 years of visa grant)
  • Evidence that you and your partner (combined) held total net assets of at least $400,000 in the qualifying business in at least 2 of the 4 financial years
  • Evidence of total annual turnover of at least $3,000,000 in your main business in at least 2 of the 4 financial years
  • A business plan to indicate your intentions and efforts to actively participate in and manage the qualifying business, describing your proposed business activities in Australia and how they will benefit Australia economically
  • Evidence that you have participated in the day-to-day management of the business for 2 of the last 4 financial years (including financial statements, business contracts and minutes of meetings). This must demonstrate your involvement in management decisions for all, or a majority of the business
  • Evidence of business ownership, such as company extract, annual return and certificate of registration for a company, or a partnership/franchise agreement or trust deed (this will depend on the business type)

Note that if you apply under the Significant Business History stream, you will be required to report back to Immigration by completing a survey after 2 years holding the subclass 132 visa. As part of this requirement, will need to provide evidence (including financial) to document that you have achieved specified state nomination requirements as declared when you submitted your application. If you fail to do so, you risk having your visa revoked.

Venture Capital Entrepreneur stream

Set out below is a summary of the types of financial documents which you will need to provide to satisfy Immigration requirements for visa grant under the Venture Capital Entrepreneur stream.

  • A legally binding venture capital agreement with an Australian company that is a member of the Australian Private Equity and Venture Capital Association Limited (AVCAL) to show that you have obtained venture capital funding of at least $1,000,000 from an Australian venture capital firm, and a letter stating that the funding is for the start-up, development or expansion of a business, or for product commercialisation in Australia
  • Evidence that your nominating Australian State or Territory government agency is satisfied that you and your partner combined have sufficient assets to settle in Australia
  • Evidence of your genuine and realistic commitment to continuously maintain a substantial ownership interest in new or existing eligible business in Australia and to engage directly and continuously in the daily management and decision-making of the business
  • An overview of your business career and intentions in Australia, including a statement outlining your intended business and/or investment activities and a description of your research or study in relevant sectors in Australia.

In conclusion, we note that the above provides an overview only of the business visa programme and financial documents which you will need to provide to satisfy visa grant requirements. Given the highly complex nature of the migration laws, and the fact that every individual case is different, we recommend that you engage a registered migration agent who will be able to provide you with detailed advice about the business visa requirements, State and Territory nomination requirements, your eligibility to apply and the documents you will need to provide, based on your individual circumstances.  Being fully informed about the application process, eligibility requirements and the documentary evidence which needs to be provided with your application will help you to avoid unnecessary processing delays or a potential refusal.