Western Australia – Subclass 188 Business Innovation Stream

To be eligible for a Business Innovation and Investment Visa, the prospect applicant must be nominated by an Australian State or Territory government agency. For Western Australia, the nomination process is managed by Small Business Development Corporation (SBDC).

SBDC has officially opened its business migration program from 4th August 2021. The eligibility requirements have been updated with more details and clarifications. In this blog, we will be focusing on the Business Innovation Stream, which is one of the most sought after visas to date.

Subclass 188 – Business Innovation (Provisional) Stream (188A)

This is for visa applicants with a successful business history. Upon visa approval, the visa holders will be able to operate a new or existing business in Western Australia. Visa validity will be 5 years, and permanent residency is possible if the 188 visa holder meets all business, residence and personal requirements.

SBDC has confirmed that applicants must meet the Department of Home Affairs (DOHA) eligibility criteria first, which include but are not limited to:

  • Eligible business ownership
  • Minimum turnover for the nominated business
  • Net personal and business assets, which are accumulated lawfully and from operating business/es
  • An overall successful business career
  • At least 65 points on the points test
  • Under 55 – unless state government grants age exemption
  • You can read more about the new requirements from 1st July 2021 here.

It should be noted that whilst 65 is the ‘pass mark’, achieving only 65 may not lead to an invitation due to the competitive nature and limited quota of this visa program. Preferences are likely given to applicants with higher points, higher net personal/business assets and potential contribution to Western Australia.

In addition to DOHA requirements, applicants are also required to submit business proposals as part of the nomination application process. This would be the opportunity to really stand out in this ‘competition’, and increase the chance of receiving the nomination. SBDC has confirmed that they will assess the business proposals based on the following factors:

  • Viability of the proposed business
  • Realistic business activity
  • Contribution to the Western Australia economy including the generation of new jobs and retention of existing jobs

This means that a brief and superficial description of your intended business activities, without any substantial back up via evidence and research, is unlikely to be recognized by SBDC. Applicants are expected to conduct thorough research and develop a very good understanding of the business environment in Western Australia, including current economic climate, competition, demand/supply, and a realistic plan to ensure financial/commercial viability.

On the other hand, SBDC is open to award applicants with an additional 10 points (known as Special Endorsement in the pointes test) if the business proposal can bring exceptional and important benefits to Western Australia.

Business activities

Does SBDC prefer certain types of business activities over others? The short answer is no. SBDC has confirmed that applicants can undertake any business activity of their choices, as long as it meets the definition of qualifying business for visa purposes. As per Migration Regulations 1994, a qualifying business is defined an enterprise that is:

  1. operated for the purpose of making profit through the provision of goods, services or goods and services (other than the provision of rental property) to the public; and
  2. not operated primarily or substantially for the purpose of speculative or passive investment.

However, SBDC has also specified a few scenarios and their positions on these matters:

Property Development

To prevent passive investment and/or lack of day-to-day management of the business operations, SBDC has prescribed the following requirements for property development businesses:

  • Must be a project with at least 3 dwellings
  • Applicant’s residence can be part of the project, but cannot be counted towards the above-mentioned 3 dwellings
  • The property development business cannot be a partnership arrangement with any other party

International trading business

To ensure that priorities are given to Western Australian economy, SBDC has advised such businesses must source the majority of products and services from Western Australia for exporting internationally. If sourcing from another location, the proposal is unlikely to be considered for nomination.

Recycling of business

To attract new businesses and investments, SBDC has stipulated that if applicants intend to take over an existing business, this business has not been usedby other business visa applicants/holders to obtain permanent residency in Australia.

Commitment to Western Australia

To ensure that the visa applicants are committed to Western Australia, and are not ‘abusing’ this program for a visa, SBDC has specified the following:

  • All visa applicants residing in Australia must live and study in Western Australia.
  • Preferences will be given to applicants who have visited Western Australia, and/or have personal connections in Western Australia (e.g. family, friends, business associates)
  • Applicants are unlikely to receive nomination if they have family members or relatives living/studying in other Australian states/territories.
  • Applicants are unlikely to receive nomination if they have investments in other Australian states/territories.


Whilst Western Australia may appear to be ‘easier’ for business migration in terms of requirements and competitiveness, this is usually not the case in reality. As Western Australia recovers from the pandemic, all applications will be under close scrutiny and will be assessed competitively.

The aforementioned information is only a sneak peek of the new business migration requirements prescribed by the Western Australia government. If you are interested in Western Australia business migration, you should get in touch with our experienced visa team today to discuss your background and intentions, so that we can help plan the best possible pathway moving forward.

 Why Western Australia?

Western Australia has been a hidden gem for business migration, and a destination for migration in general. It’s globally connected city due to its unique geographical location and time zone. As a result, a lot of Asia-Pacific business has established its Australian presence in Western Australia.  Aside from the white sandy beaches with crystal clear water, the busy city life and endless new cafes to try- it has also been one of the best in regards to the pandemic control of COVID-19. While we see our neighboring states go in to lockdowns sadly, WA has to be one of the least impacted by COVID-19 with a seemingly usual day-to-day life. Did we mention, Perth is home to world-class universities such as the University of Western Australia, Curtin University and Murdoch University! The capital of Western Australia (Perth) has also been consistently ranked as a top 10 livable city in the world – which speaks for itself why WA is an amazing choice to work, study and enjoy life.