Demand for visas granted through Australia's Business Innovation and Investment Programme grew by a staggering 74.4% in 2016/17. What is driving the growth in international business people looking to capitalise on Australia's strong economy, and should you be joining the rush?
Not just beaches and koalas
Australia has long been considered a desirable place to visit and to migrate: images of sunny skies, kangaroos and cosmopolitan cities are something of a cliché but are none-the-less true. Combine this with low unemployment, efficient government and first-class amenities, it's not difficult to see why 190,000 or so people migrate to Australia each year. Among them are 7260 business people who qualify under the Business Innovation and Investment Programme (BIIP).
Australia offers BIIP visas to attract experienced and prosperous business people who will develop successful businesses and contribute to Australia's economy. So, why would some of the world's best business people choose Australia to set up business? While many first-world countries offer a pleasant lifestyle, business people have an extra requirement: the right business conditions.
After more than 25 years without a recession, Australia is a beacon of economic stability and business confidence in a world filled with uncertainty. In 2018 World Bank also ranked Australia as the 7th easiest country to start a business in, and one of the top 20 easiest places to do business worldwide.
Business visa eligibility
If this sparks your interest in Australia, you should be aware that applying for a visa in the BIIP is convoluted and the requirements are rigorous. While visa options are available for pure investors and very high calibre business people, many international business people are interested in the Business Innovation and Investment (Provisional) visa (subclass 188A) Business Innovation Stream.
This stream is designed for successful business people who want to own and manage a business in Australia and requires minimum ownership stakes in one or more businesses (the smaller the business, the more significant the stake required), and has a combined asset and turnover threshold (800,000 AUD assets and 500,000 AUD turnover).
To be eligible, you must demonstrate a history of successfully owning and managing businesses, and pass the Australian government's 'points test', which is scored according to various business and personal categories such as years of business experience and turnover.
To apply for the 188A, however, an eligible party must receive a nomination from one of Australia's states or territories, and each has additional, and differing, requirements. After completing an Expression of Interest for your chosen state, and subsequently receiving a nomination, the Department of Immigration may then invite you to apply.
You don't need to be inside Australia to apply for these visas, and 90% of BIIP visas are applied for outside the country. Many business people choose to engage registered immigration lawyers and migration agents to manage the whole process, allowing them to continue to their business focus.
Responsibilities and rewards
Business people already successful in their own countries may reasonably ask whether this process is worthwhile. While the conditions may seem onerous, the benefits are most undoubtedly substantial. Naturally, you will have the right to start and run a new business, or own and manage an existing business, and you will be required to do so in a way that benefits Australia's economy.
You will also need to be involved in the day-to-day running of the business to the extent that necessitates your continued presence in Australia. If you are granted this visa, you gain the right to live, work and study in Australia for the duration of the visa and are free to travel in and out of the country.
An added advantage is that immediate family (your partner and any of you or your partner's children) included in your visa can access the same benefits, including free primary and secondary school education. If, after experiencing life in Australia, you want to migrate permanently, you can apply for a different BIIP visa, the Business Innovation and Investment (Permanent) visa (subclass 888).
When the current excellent business climate is considered, the unprecedented increase in interest in business visas for Australia is very understandable. An investment in applying for a BIIP visa is very justified for people with a successful career and substantial assets looking to do business in Australia. Competition is stiff, but do your research, and you could land a unique and exciting opportunity.
The writer is an Australian immigration consultant and CEO of Eduaid. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org