The Business Innovation Steam

Have you a successful business and looking to grow an empire? Think Australia is a great place to set up or expand your business? There are a whole host of visas engineered just for talented individuals such as yourself.

There are 5 different streams on the Business Innovation and Investment (Provisional) visa (subclass 188):

  • Business innovation
  • Investor
  • Significant investor (no points test)
  • Premium investor (no points test)
  • Entrepreneur (no points test)

Read: Entrepreneur stream 188 visa

This is a temporary visa which leads to the Business Innovation and Investment (Permanent) visa (subclass 888). It has a four year and three month term.

This article will be about the business innovation stream on the 188 visa. The business innovation stream is available to those who wish to establish, develop or manage a new or existing business in Australia.

  • Under 55 years of age (state or territory may choose to waive the requirement should your proposed business be of significant economic benefit to that nominated state or territory)
  • Score at least 65 on the points test
  • For two of the four fiscal years immediately before you are invited to apply, have had an ownership interest in one or more established business or businesses that had at least AUD$500,000 in turnover for each of those years
  • Nominate a main business
  • At the time of invitation, yourself, your partner, or yourself and your partner must have a total of at least AUD$800,000 net business and personal assets that are available to be legally transferred to Australia within two years of the visa being granted
  • Have an overall successful business career
  • No involvement in unacceptable business or investment activities
  • Have a genuine desire to continuously own and maintain a management role in a business in Australia
  • Satisfy health and character requirements


Points test

This is a points tested visa and the points test is not the test that applies to general skilled migration (GSM) visas, so do make sure you are using the right test!

Find: Business and innovation visa points test sheet here

In each category the applicant can only claim points from one item. For example, if the applicant held both an Australian trade certificate as well a bachelor degree in business, he should claim the bachelor degree which holds a higher points value. However for the category of business innovations qualifications, the applicant may claim on multiple items for a cumulative score.  an applicant may obtain, for example, 15 points for holding a patent, 10 points for having a trademark and 15 points for export trade (to obtain a total of 40 points).

Look out for our next article where we explain the different awards that you may claim on the business and innovation points test!


Main business

For a business to be considered a main business, the application must hold ownership interest which is:

  • At least 51% if the business with a turnover of less than AUD$400,000 a year
  • At least 30% if the business with turnover of more than AUD$400,000 a year
  • At least 10% if it is a publicly listed company

Turnover can only be included if the ownership has existed for a full fiscal year.

If your nominated main business provides professional, technical or trade services in the two out of four fiscal years before the time of invitation, you must have spent no more than half your time engaged in the provision of those services. You must have spent a majority of your in the management and development of the business. This said, self employed professionals, technicians and tradespeople cannot be considered to have satisfied the criteria.


Transferred in 2 years

Net assets amounting to no less than AUD$800,000 must be able to be transferred to Australia within 2 years of a visa grant. This simply means that the assets tied up in pension schemes, trusts, bonds and long term fixed deposits that cannot be touched in 2 years cannot be considered as part of the AUD$800,000.

Net business assets are not restricted to main businesses.


Overall successful business

The applicant should not have been declared bankrupt in the 5 years before application, involved in a business that suffered significant financial difficulties such as large losses or receivership, and would not continue to be viable in the long term as a result of the applicant’s role and decisions in the business. In the latter instance, the circumstances surrounding the decline of the business will be examined, such as the presence of extenuating external factors and the applicant’s business history.

The DIBP will assess if the applicant meets the above by taking into account the following factors:

  • the type of business concerned
  • the size of the business concerned
  • the specific role of the applicant in the business
  • how many other professional, technical or trade-qualified staff are employed in the business
  • the applicant’s affiliations (if any) with professional, business/management or other relevant organisations and
  • evidence from the applicant’s time sheets/diary entries, which are used by many service providers as a record of billable hours


Genuine intent to be involved in business in Australia

This visa comes with an obligation to:

  • either establish a qualifying business in Australia or participate in an existing qualifying business in Australia and
  • maintain a substantial ownership interest in that business and
  • maintain direct and continuous involvement in management of that business from day to day and in making decisions that affect the overall direction and performance of the business in a manner that benefits Australia economically.

Typically applicants are not required to submit detailed business plans but are asked to state their business intentions in Australia (see next section about state or territory criteria). Any business interests should demonstrate a need to be in Australia. These are some examples of businesses that would not support an applicant’s residence in Australia:

  • internet trading businesses
  • occasional export of Australian made products (in particular to the applicant’s overseas business)
  • occasional import of overseas products to Australia (in particular from the applicant’s overseas business) or
  • brokering of products between countries other than Australia.

When it comes to export, the applicant will be considered to fulfil the criteria if the applicant wishes to regularly export Australian goods to a number of countries.



This a points tested visa as well as a state or territory nominated visa. This means that the applicant will need to make two separate applications, one fulfilling the criteria set by that state or territory, and the other to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP). Both applications are required to be successful for the grant of the 188 visa.

It is very important to understand that each state or territory will have their own set of criterion. For example, New South Wales has differing criteria for those who are looking to move into regional areas as opposed to the city; whilst DIBP guidelines state that the applicant, partner, or combined, must have AUD$800,000 in assets that will be transferred within 2 years, NSW sets the bar rather much higher at AUD$1.3million for those who wish to live in metropolitan areas. You must not neglect to fully research and understand what is required for your application to the nominating state or territory.

Visit the state’s official websites for more information on their respective requirements:

Australian Capital Territory
New South Wales
Western Australia
Northern Territory
South Australia

Want to learn about the Business Talent Visa (Subclass 132)? If you are a more established business person, you might like to consider this visa which is a direct path to permanent residency. Do subscribe for more about migration into Australia!