Business Innovation and Investment (Provisional) visa (subclass 188A) – Business Innovation stream

Subclass 188A – Business Innovation Stream

Business visa Australia has been making significant economic and innovative contributions to Australia for the past decades. In July 2021, the Business Innovation and Investment program (BIIP) was revamped to better cater for post COVID-19 recovery.

The most significant changes were:

  • Simplification of the program, reducing streams for visas from 9 to 4 and all under Subclass 188 visa.
  • Streamlined permanent residency process
  • Longer visa validity – increased from 4 to 5 years
  • Revised points test for eligibility

Amongst all streams of Australian business visas, Business Innovation Stream is undoubtedly the most popular visa for business owners, especially those operating a SME. It is also unofficially (but more commonly) known as Subclass 188A. 

At this stage, the processing time for Subclass 188A visa is around 14 - 35 months. Application costs are:

  • Primary applicant: $6,085.00
  • Each secondary applicant above 18: $3,045.00
  • Each secondary applicant below 18: $1,520.00
188a visa business innovation stream

To qualify for this visa, the primary visa applicant must be an overall successful business owner with no history of unacceptable business activities. Required percentage of ownership is dependent on your business turnover:

  • Business turnover < AUD400,000 per year – at least 51%
  • Business turnover ≥ AUD400,000 per year – at least 30%
  • Public listed company – at least 10%

The business used to apply for this visa must also have at least $500,000 AUD of annual turnover for at least 2 out of the 4 financial years prior to invitation. 

It is possible to nominate 2 businesses, but this can lead to complications and confusions on the documentation required.  You should consult with a migration professional to ensure that you structure the application properly, if you intend to use more than one business for your 188A visa application. 

On the personal side, you must demonstrate at least $1.25 million AUD of combined personal and business assets. These assets can be under your name and/or your partner/spouse’s name, and they must be ready for transferring to Australia after visa approval.

It should be noted that the above listed business and personal criteria are the legal minimum. In practice, all primary applicants must go through a points test and receive state/territory nomination to receive an invitation to apply for the Subclass 188A visa. Each state or territory can impose additional requirements including but are not limited to:

  • Additional assets to be invested in the region
  • Specific types of business activities
  • Generating employment for local labour market

Lastly, all applicants included must meet character and health requirements. 

Before committing to the Subclass 188 process, you should always do the Business visa Australia points test first: Points calculator

Similar to the general skilled migration program, the points test for business visas rank all applicants and the total points play a major role in the likelihood of receiving an invitation to apply for a visa. The current points test looks at:

  • Age – if you are above 55, you can only be invited if you can make exceptional economic contributions
  • English language proficiency
  • Education qualifications
  • Financial assets 
  • Business turnover
  • Business experience
  • Business innovation stream qualifications such as patents, fast-growing businesses etc.
  • Special endorsement from the nominating state/territory government agency

Just like in 188B visa, if you can score at least 65 points, you should consider which state/territory you hope to receive nomination from. Each state/territory has different requirements which may not be suitable for all applicants. If you identify a state/territory that you are interested in, you should conduct thorough business research and plan your business activities in Australia, which is required after visa approval.

Using Western Australia as an example – their business migration program is managed by Small Business Development Corporation (SBDC). Whilst SBDC is not asking for anything above Department of Home Affairs’ minimum requirements for Subclass 188A visa, they impose several additional requirements on business activities and all applicants included in the visa application, namely:

  • A formal business proposal with detailed financial forecasts
  • Size requirements for property development businesses
  • Definition of acceptable international trading businesses
  • Prohibition of using businesses from previous business visa migrants
  • All applicants must live, work and study only in Western Australia 

You should also start preparing for supporting documents to support the points claimed in the points test. This is where things can get tricky – to avoid double counting, certain business and financial documents have specific dates requirement (e.g. must be dated on the same day within 3 months of invitation etc.), essentially putting a validity period on them. In the meantime, other documents take time to be ready, e.g. the business proposal may take a bit longer to complete compared to your birth certificates or proof of education. 

Once you complete the above, you can submit a state nomination application. Depending on the state/territory you select, you may be required to attend an interview to further explain your proposed business activities and business background. 

After your state nomination application is approved, you will receive an invitation to apply for a Subclass 188A visa to be assessed by Department of Home Affairs. Once your visa application is approved, you can enter Australia and carry out the proposed business activity, which is required to progress towards permanent residency. 

188a visa in australia

VEVS Global’s visa team will ensure that your business migration process is well looked after from the very beginning:

  • Our business migration expert will review your business and personal circumstances in detail with our in-house CPA accredited case manager, and strategize the most optimal application process based on your intentions and business background. 
  • If required, we will make introductions to third party service providers such as accountants and property evaluators, who are all experienced in preparing reports accepted by Department of Home Affairs for business visa Australia
  • Our visa team will coordinate the whole documentation preparation process with all parties involved, and ensure that they are all completed and dated as per requirements of visa for business owners, so you do not have to worry about documents’ validity period. 
  • We will provide thorough guidance and assistance with state nomination applications, including but not limited to reviewing business proposals, budgeting. If you are seeking WA state nomination, our team has extensive experience working with SBDC and can assist in liaising with state nomination officers.
  • Our visa team will compile and submit your visa application, including reviewing your source of funds and business intention statement. We will also prepare legal submission and work with case officers for the best possible outcome.
  • Once your visa application is approved, our visa team will immediately start planning for your permanent residency pathway based on your proposed business activity in Australia, and will refer local partners to assist with clients’ settlement and business operations if required.

Business migration is a complicated process, and it can become very costly if not properly managed. This is a major life decision that you should not DIY, so contact us today for a preliminary assessment for your 188 visa journey!