What are the general requirements for the Significant Investor visa?

Publish Date: Aug 08, 2013

Australia in many ways is an attractive country to do business, therefore, the Federal Government has introduced the Significant Investor visa (the visa) as a stream falling within the Business Innovation and Investment (Provisional)(Subclass 188) visa, and the Business Innovation and Investment (Permanent)(Subclass 888) visa. The primary aim of the program is to attract people from overseas who have been successful in business or investment, with the hopes that the success will translate to increased economic growth and innovation within the country.

For any person wishing to apply for the visa, they must:
  • submit an expression of interest in SkillSelect;
  • be nominated by a government at the State or Territory level;
  • invest in at least $AU5 million into complying investments.

Unlike some other visas, there is no requirement that the applicant satisfy the innovation points test, nor is there an upper age limitation. However, the visa applicant must have spent 160 days in Australia over a four year period, while also holding the Business Innovation and Investment (Provisional)(Subclass 188) visa. Essentially, the primary visa holder must be a resident for at least 40 days per year, or part of the year, while also holding a provisional Significant Investor visa. There is no obligation mandating that the residential requirements are to be met every year, therefore, the residential requirement can still be met cumulatively.

Visa holders who satisfy the extension requirements can extend their provisional visa for two more years, with the maximum amount of two extensions permitted.

What are complying investments?

In relation to the visa, complying investments includes government bonds at the federal, state or territory level, Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) regulated managed funds – which must be invested in Australia – and direct investment into proprietary companies in the country.

Applicants can hold investments in all of the aforementioned options provided they meet the specified requirements, and changes between the complying investments is possible.

Additionally, investments must be made, or held directly by the visa applicant, or with a spouse or de facto. Further investments that can be held can be done through a company, in which the total amount of shares issued are owned by the applicant or their partner, or via a valid trust, where the trustees and beneficiaries are the applicant or their partner.

What are ASIC regulated managed funds for Significant Investor visa applicants?

An ASIC regulated managed fund is a managed investment scheme as defined in the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) (the Act). Interests in the fund cannot be traded on financial markets and must be covered by an Australian Financial Services Licence.

Regulated managed funds are limited to specific categories, and the categories which qualify as a complying investment can include:

  • infrastructure projects;
  • cash held in deposit taking institutions;
  • bonds issued by federal, state or territory governments;
  • bonds, equity, hybrids or other types of corporate debt in companies and trusts listed on an Australian stock exchange;
  • bonds or term deposits issued by financial intuitions;
  • real estate;
  • agribusiness.

There are a number of other associated requirements in relation to direct investment in companies, and businesses that qualify under the Migration Regulations 1994.

This piece is just a general overview of the visa requirements. If you have any further questions, please seek the assistance of a lawyer who will be able to help.

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