Navigating the Visa Landscape in Australia

It’s not hard to understand why Australia offers such an attractive proposition to migrants. Our place in the Pacific is the epitome of stability with a transparent and well regulated business environment, a stable political environment, a diverse industry base and a demonstrated track record of economic growth.
 
As a country, Australia has also recognised the need to attract high calibre entrepreneurs and investors in order to keep our economy agile and thriving. It’s why the government has created the Business Innovation and Investment Programme, which identifies migrants that have a track record of success in business, innovation and investment who can generate employment, enhance the production of goods and services, drive competition, introduce new or improved technology and develop links with international markets.
 
Through this scheme, there are multiple visas on offer, including:
 
  • Business Innovation and Investment Provisional (subclass 188)
  • Business Innovation and Investment Permanent (subclass 888)
  • Business Talent Permanent (subclass 132)
According to the Department of Home Affairs, there was a 74 per cent year-on-year increase in Business Innovation and Investment visa applications in the 2016/17 financial year, mostly from China but also from Iran, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Vietnam and South Africa. And, of all the Australian states, Victoria, drew more than half of the country’s business migrants due to its strong economic credentials and support of the program.
 
The Grattan Institute also reported that last year, Australia had the highest net migration of millionaires than any other country and this is despite imposing a higher top marginal tax bracket than some of our neighbours, like Singapore. This is where the nation’s lifestyle factors also make a significant difference with high-worth migrants valuing the country’s safety, the ease of access to world-class healthcare, advanced infrastructure, proximity to Asia, not to mention our clean air and favourable climate.
 
The high demand for these categories of visa means the competition to secure one is tough. At Moore Stephens, we assist migrants to undergo the necessary rigour required to obtain the visas through our personalised service which has the added advantage of harnessing our international network of offices to provide the most relevant advice.
 
Moore Stephens works collaboratively with migration agents and migration lawyers to guide migrants through the process and our services as part of the initial application phase includes:
 
  • Business plans
  • Preparation of forecasts
  • Feasibility studies
  • Due diligence reports for potential business acquisitions
  • Advice in relation to structuring alternatives for new or existing ventures and the related commercial and taxation considerations 
The criteria for each visa differs and a high level summary of the requirements are as follows:
 
The Business Talent is a permanent residence visa which allows migrants with a proven entrepreneurial track record to come to Australia.
 
The Business Talent visa is divided into two streams:
 
  • Significant Business History – for people with net business and personal assets of at least $1.5 million, who are operating a business with a turnover of at least $3 million in two of the four years prior to their application and who would like to establish, develop and manage a new or existing business in Australia.
  •  Venture Capital Entrepreneur  – for people who have received at least $1 million in funding from an Australian venture capital firm for a start-up, product commercialisation or development of a promising high-value business idea.
The Business Innovation and Investment Provisional is a provisional residence visa that acts as a pathway to a permanent residence visa and which allows migrants to come to Australia for four years.
 
The Business Innovation and Investment Provisional visa is divided into five streams:
 
  • Business Innovation  - for people with net business and personal assets of at least $800,000, who are operating a business with a turnover of at least $500,000 in two of the four years prior to their application and who would like to establish, develop and manage a new or existing business in Australia.
  • Investor  – for people with net business, personal and investment assets of at least $2.25 million who would like to make a designated investment of at least $1.5 million in Australia and maintain business or investment activity in Australia.
  • Significant Investor  - for people who would like to make a complying investment of at least $5 million in Australia and maintain business or investment activity in Australia.
  • Premium Investor  - for people who would like to make a complying investment of at least $15 million in Australia and maintain business or investment activity in Australia.
  • Entrepreneur  - for people who have a funding agreement from a third party for at least $200,000 to undertake a complying entrepreneur activity that leads to either the commercialisation of a product or service in Australia or the development of a business in Australia.
The Business Innovation and Investment Permanent is a permanent residence visa which allows migrants to continue to own and run their Australian business or continue their investment or entrepreneurial activity provided that they have:
 
  • Owned and operated a business in Australia for at least two years under the Business Innovation stream.
  • Held a designated investment of $1.5 million for four years under the Investor stream.
  • Held a complying investment of $5 million for four years under the Significant Investor stream.
  • Held a complying investment of $15 million for one year under the Premium Investor stream.
  • Met the additional financial and other requirements of the same stream of visa.
When applying for a visa or investigating the migration process, migrants need an advisor that plays a proactive role in assisting with the continued growth of their affairs including after they have obtained their visa. Services and advice as part of the operational phase include:
 
  • Financial statements
  • Tax returns
  • Budgets and forecasts
  • Industry benchmarking reports
  • Applications to obtain government grants and assistance
  • Asset protection strategies for both businesses and their key stakeholders
  • Debt finance strategies for the acquisition of assets
  • Structuring alternatives for the acquisition or development of equipment, commercial property, residential property, intellectual property and other types of assets
Moore Stephens can assist with providing the guidance and expertise to assist with obtaining a visa, regardless of its class. Once in Australia, local advice is crucial for the continuing prosperity of either the business or the investment, and to ensure the migrant’s transition to their newly adopted country is a positive experience.