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Business Innovation and Investment Program (“BIIP”)

by | Mar 2, 2022 | Migration

The BIIP has two (2) visa categories, namely,

  • The Business Innovation and Investment (Provisional) Visa (Subclass 188) (“the 188 Visa”).
  • The Business Innovation and Investment (Permanent) Visa (Subclass 888) (“the 888 Visa”).

The 188 Visa

The 188 Visa is a provisional visa allowing its holder to carry out business activities or investments in Australia to meet the criteria for the corresponding 888 Visa (permanent visa) within a period of 5 years after the grant of the 188 Visa.  The 188 visa has four streams, including

  1. Business Innovation Stream.
  2. Investor Stream.
  3. Significant Investor Stream.
  4. Entrepreneur Stream.

Each stream has its own criteria.  The first three streams are popular streams and the focus of this page.

The Entrepreneur Stream is difficult in terms of obtaining funding of at least AUD200,000 from an authorised third party funding body for the purposes of undertaking a Complying Entrepreneur Activity in Australia. A  Complying Entrepreneur Activity must relate to an innovation idea that will lead to the commercialisation of a product or service in Australia, or to the development of an enterprise or business in Australia.

The 888 Visa

The pathway to permanent residency for the 188 Visa holders is the 888 Visas in the corresponding streams.  Again, each stream has its own specific requirements that must be met for a successful application.

Common criteria for all streams include:

  • having no history of involvement in business or investment activities not acceptable in Australia.
  • meeting health requirement.
  • meeting character requirement.
  • having never provided false or misleading information or document to the Australian Immigration in the past 10 years.

Business Innovation Stream

This stream of the 188 Visa is for business people intending to operate a new or established business in Australia. To be eligible for this visa the applicant must meet a number of criteria, including being a business owner with a successful business career, having maintained direct management in the business, meeting specified requirements for annual turnover (minimum AUD750,000) and for value of lawfully acquired net assets (minimum AUD1,250,000), as well as achieving the pass mark (currently 65) set for the BIIP Points Test.  In addition, the primary applicant must be nominated by the State/Territory where he/she is interested in residing and operating a qualified business for the 888 Visa application in the future.

The primary applicant must be under 55 years of age at the time of invitation to apply for this visa, unless specially endorsed by the nominating State/Territory for proposed business activities that will be of exceptional economic benefit to that State/Territory.

The 188A visa can be extended once for a 2-year period.

After successfully obtaining the 188 Visa in the Business Innovation Stream, the applicant must establish a business (either new or through purchasing an existing business) in Australia, operate and manage the business for at least 2 years, meet specific requirements for business turnover and net business and personal assets in Australia, and meet residence requirement in order to become eligible to apply for the 888 visa in the same stream before the 188 visa ends.  Further, the primary applicant must have held the 188 visa for at least 3 years before applying for the 888 visa in the same stream.

Investor Stream

The 188 Visa in the Investor Stream is for business people with at least 3 years proven experience with a high level of management skill in, and overall a successful record of, managing eligible investments for the purpose of producing a return in the form of income or capital gain, and not for personal use.  Such eligible investments include ownership in a business, cash on deposit, stocks or bonds, real estate, gold or silver bullion.  In addition, the primary applicant must have maintained direct involvement in managing eligible investments with a net value of at least AUD2.5 million, or in managing a qualifying business with at least 10% of ownership interest in the business, for at least 1 of 5 fiscal years before the time of invitation to apply for the visa.  Moreover, the primary applicant (or with the spouse/de facto partner together) must have a net value of at least AUD2.5 million of personal and business assets for the 2 fiscal years before the time of invitation to apply for this visa. Moreover, the primary applicant must be nominated by the State/Territory where he/she is interested in residing and making investments in addition to the Complying Significant Investment (see below) in the future.

Again, the primary applicant must be under 55 years of age at the time of invitation to apply for this visa, unless specially endorsed by the nominating State/Territory for proposed business activities that will be of exceptional economic benefit to that State/Territory.

The primary applicant also needs to achieve the pass mark (currently 65) set for the BIIP Points Test.

The primary applicant will be required to make a Complying Significant Investment of at least AUD2.5 million, which must be invested in the following proportions:

  • at least AUD500,000 in venture capital and growth private equity funds which invest in start-ups and small private companies;
  • at least AUD750,000 in approved managed funds. The managed funds must invest in emerging companies listed on the Australian Stock Exchange;
  • a ‘balancing investment’ of at least AUD1.25 million in managed funds.

The managed funds can invest in a range of assets, including companies listed on the Australian stock exchange, Australian corporate bonds or notes, annuities and commercial real estate.  Direct investment in residential real estate is prohibited, and indirect investment in residential property through managed funds is strictly limited.  Further, the Complying Significant Investment cannot be used as security or collateral for a loan.

The funds used to make this designated investment must be lawfully acquired, unencumbered and accumulated from eligible investment activities or qualifying business(es) conducted by the applicant (or spouse or together with spouse).

After successfully obtaining the 188 Visa in the Investor Stream, the applicant must hold Complying Significant Investment continuously for the life of the 188 Visa, carry out additional business and investment activities and meet residence requirement in order to be eligible to apply for the 888 Visa in the same stream before the 18B Visa ends.  In addition, the primary applicant for the 888 Visa must have held the 188 Visa for at least 3 years before applying for the 888 Visa in the same stream

The 188 Visa in the Investor Stream cannot be extended.

Significant Investor Stream

The 188 Visa in the Significant Investor Stream is for business people who have lawfully acquired funds or net assets worth of at least AUD5 million which can be used to make a Complying Significant Investment.

There is no age limit to applicants for this stream. In addition, the BIIP Points Test does not apply for this stream.

The AUD5 million Complying Significant Investment must be made in the following proportions:

  • at least AUD1 million in venture capital and growth private equity funds which invest in start-ups and small private companies;
  • at least AUD1.5 million in approved managed funds. The managed funds must invest in emerging companies listed on the Australian Stock Exchange; and
  • a ‘balancing investment’ of at least AUD2.5 million in managed funds.

Again, the primary applicant must be nominated by the State/Territory where he/she is interested in residing in the future.

The stream allows two extensions, each for a 2-year period.  Maximum period for a 188 Visa in this stream is 9 years.

After successfully obtaining the 188 Visa in this stream, the primary applicant must hold Complying Significant Investment continuously for the life of the 188 Visa and meet the residence requirement (see table below):

Residence requirement – minimum number of days residing in Australia If it is the primary applicant who is to meet the residence requirement: If it is the spouse/de facto partner who is to meet the residence requirement:
for a 4-year period 160 720
for a 5-year period 200 900
for a 6-year period 240 1,080
for a 7-year period 280 1,260
for a 8-year period 320 1,440
for a 9-year period 360 1,620

The BIIP Points Test has the following qualification factors for points:

  • Age
  • English language proficiency
  • Qualifications
  • Business or investment experience
  • Net personal and business assets (minimum AUD1,250,000)
  • Business turnover (minimum AUD750,000 p.a.)
  • Innovation
  • Special endorsement by nominating State/Territory

The current pass mark is set at 65.