888 Business and Investment Visa

The Subclass 888 business and investment visa is the second stage of the permanent residency process for business and investor applicants who hold a Subclass 188 visa, or select Subclass 444 visa holders. For successful transition to Subclass 888, there are a number of additional prerequisites that need to be satisfied. 

Many of these requirements must be worked towards whilst holding one’s Subclass 188 visa, meaning it pays to be aware of this criteria before proceeding with one’s provisional visa application.

Streams of Subclass 888

For an application by a holder of a Subclass 188 visa, Subclass 888 is divided into 4 streams which mirror the streams available under Subclass 188. Such streams consist of the following:

  • Business Innovation
  • Investor
  • Significant Investor
  • Premium Investor
  • Entrepreneur

Applicants must apply for Subclass 888 under the stream which corresponds to their Subclass 188 provisional visa. 

Note that as of 1 July 2021, it is no longer possible to apply for Subclass 188 under the Premium Investor stream. As such, only existing 188 Premium Investor visa holders may qualify for Subclass 888 under the Premium Investor stream.

General Requirements

Business Practices

The primary applicant must have no history of unacceptable business activities.

Business Endeavour

The primary applicant must genuinely and realistically be committed to continue business or investment activities within Australia.

Nomination Requirements

You must reapply for nomination by the entity who initially nominated you for your provisional 188 visa. Requirements vary depending on the visa stream and the nominating entity. Some jurisdictions may impose comprehensive requirements for Subclass 888 permanent residency nominations, meaning it is critical that you are aware of these before you apply for your provisional visa.. 

In limited instances, it may be possible to receive a nomination from a different State or Territory than the one that initially nominated you for your 188 provisional visa. This generally requires the initial nominating entity to issue you with a “letter of release.” In practical terms, it is generally extremely difficult possible to facilitate such arrangements. 

888A: Business Innovation Stream

Eligible Visas

The primary applicant must hold a Subclass 188A visa in the Business Innovation Stream or a Subclass 444 visa in order to apply for a Subclass 888 visa in the business and innovation stream.

Presence in Australia

The primary applicant must have been present in Australia as a holder of the eligible provisional visa for a period of at least 1 year, in aggregate, in the 2 years immediately prior to the application being lodged. Failure to have maintained a presence in Australia for this duration will result in ineligibility. Time spent on a visa other than a Subclass 188A will generally not be counted towards this requirement. 

Ownership Interest

Applicants must have had, and continue to have ownership interest in at least one actively operating business in Australia in the 2 years immediately prior to the application. The requisite minimum ownership percentage depends on the size and nature of the business, and is as follows:

  • 51% – when the annual turnover of a business is less than $400,000, or
  • 30% – when the annual turnover of a business is more than $400,000, or
  • 10% – when the business is a publicly listed company on an Australian securities exchange.

“Ownership interest” refers to legal title to the business, meaning most applicants will be shareholders, partners or sole proprietors of their eligible business. Indirect interests, such as those held through one or more trusts, partnerships or companies, may also satisfy this criterion. 

Applicants must also maintain involvement in the day-to-day running of the business. Ownership on its own will be insufficient to satisfy this requirement.

Business Acquisition

There is an additional applicable criterion where the main business is bought from a person who has applied for or held:

  • a Business Innovation and Investment (Permanent) visa; or
  • a permanent business skills visa (in subclasses 890, 891, 892 or 893)

The primary applicant, who is also the buyer, must show that ownership of the business has been shared with the seller for at least 1 year prior to the current application.

This is intended to prevent successive business visa applicants recycling a single Australian business in order to achieve permanent residency. Prior to the purchase of an Australian business, it is crucial for applicants to verify that the seller is not a business visa holder or applicant themselves. It is generally beneficial to have the business vendor provide a warranty to this effect. 

Active Business Management

The primary applicant must submit the main business’ Australian Business Number and Business Activity Statements, as lodged with the Australian Taxation Office, for the two (2) years prior to the application.

In addition, the primary applicant must show that he or she has had a direct and continuous management role within the business or businesses.

Business Turnover

The main business must have had a total turnover of $300,000 in the 12 months before the application. A nominating State or Territory authority has the power to exercise a discretion to waive this requirement. Turnover is defined as the revenue generated in the ordinary course of business activities, including:

  • Sale of goods
  • Fees for service
  • Commission revenue
  • Interest
  • Capital gains
  • Government subsidies

Note that States and Territories may impose higher turnover thresholds for applicants seeking nomination for Subclass 888A.

Business Criteria – “2 out of 3” Requirements

Although the nominating State or Territory authority may exercise discretion in waiving business criteria, in most cases the primary applicant needs to satisfy at least two (2) out of the following three (3) criteria:

  • Personal Assets in the Business or main businesses in Australia had a net value of at least $200,000 during the 12 months immediately before the application was made, and assets continue to have this net value.
  • Australian Employees of the main business or businesses numbered two (2) or more. This employment must have been for a total number of hours equivalent to what would be worked by two (2) full-time employees.
  • Net Personal and Business Assets had a net value of at least $600,000 during the 12 months immediately before the application was made, and assets continue to have this net value.

Note that in all cases, assets and businesses owned by the applicant, the applicant’s spouse or the applicant and his or her spouse jointly all count towards this requirements. 

Lawful Acquisition of Assets

Assets must have been lawfully acquired, which must be proven with evidence as part of the application.

State Nomination

Just as with the Subclass 188A provisional visa, applicants must apply to their nominating state or territory for nomination under Subclass 888A. Each state and territory have implemented divergent criteria for their Subclass 888A Business and Innovation stream nomination. 

We have summarised some of the basic criteria as required by each participating jurisdiction. Note that nomination criteria is always changing, with the below criteria reflecting requirements as at the time of writing:

New South Wales (NSW)

New South Welsh Subclass 188A nomination requirements are as follows:

  • You must prove that you have been involved in an actively operating New South Welsh business for the last 2 years.
  • For each financial quarter of those 2 years of business operations, you must demonstrate one or more of the following:
    • Substantial sales revenue;
    • Leasing or ownership of a business premises;
    • Employment of staff;
    • Significant capital investment, other than purchase of motor vehicles; and
    • Substantive purchase of stock
  • You must meet 2 of the following three criteria:
    • Employ the equivalent of 2 full-time workers who are not relatives of yours and who are Australian citizens, permanent residents or New Zealand passport holders;
    • Hold net personal and business assets in Australia of either $900,000, if your business is in Sydney, or $600,000 if your business is in regional Australia.
    • Hold net assets in your New South Welsh business or businesses of either $300,000, if your business is in Sydney, or $200,000 if your business is in regional Australia.
  • You must demonstrate your active management of your New South Welsh business.
  • You must have made a total business investment of either $500,000, if your business is in Sydney, or $300,000 if your business is in regional Australia. This investment can be in any of the following:
    • Property;
    • Plant and equipment;
    • Inventory; or
    • Goodwill.
  • You must provide a resume, demonstrating a successful business career.
  • If your 188A nomination was in relation to a regional New South Welsh business, your business operations must be in regional New South Wales.

An application fee of $1,397 is payable when applying from within Australia. Applications made outside Australia attract a reduced fee of $1,270. A response can generally be expected within 4 weeks of lodging the application.  

Victoria

Victorian Subclass 888A visa nominations carry the following requirements:

  • You must reside in Victoria, and will generally be expected to be absent from the state for no more than 6 weeks per year whilst holding your Subclass 188A visa.
  • You must demonstrate a genuine commitment to living in Victoria.
  • You must own and operate a Victorian business for 2 years.
  • Your Victorian business must not be:
    • Small scale property development;
    • Small scale freight forwarding;
    • Commodity and scrap metal export;
    • Passive investment; or
    • Grey market or parallel exporting.
  • If your business involves exporting, these activities must have made a direct contribution to the Victorian economy. Such a contribution may include:
    • Increases to the export value of Victorian goods and services;
    • Creation or retention of Victorian jobs, including those created via flow-on effects to other Victorian suppliers;
    • Other local economic benefits of the business;
    •  Assistance provided to Victorian businesses in exporting their products or addressing market gaps;
    • Expansion of export markets.
  • Must demonstrate that you have been responsible for the day-to-day operation and overall strategic direction of the proposed Victorian business.
  • If you were nominated for the Subclass 188 visa on or after 22 July 2019, you must have employed at least 1 full-time employee, that is not a relative of yours, in your main business for a minimum of 12 months within the 24 months before your 888A nomination application. 30 hours per week will be considered “full-time.” The employee must be an Australian citizen, permanent resident or New Zealand passport holder. 

Queensland

Queensland Subclass 888A nominations merely require that applicants:

  • Invest a total of $200,000 in a main business, or two (2) main businesses, in Queensland.
  • If your business or businesses are different from those proposed in your Subclass 188A nomination application, the new business or businesses must be approved by the Queensland authorities first. 
  • An application fee of $825 is payable when applying from within Australia. Applications made outside Australia attract a reduced fee of $750.

Western Australia (WA)

Western Australian Subclass 888A nominations are subject to the following criteria:

  • Ownership and management of up to two (2) businesses actively trading in Western Australia during the 24 months preceding the 888A nomination application;
  • The business must be substantiated through provision of BAS and must relate to the initial business proposal outlined in the initial Western Australian 188A nomination application;
  • Reside in Western Australia for at least one (1) year in the two (2) years immediately before the 888A nomination application;
  • Turnover of at least $300,000 in the Western Australian main business during the last 12 months; and
  • If the turnover criterion is not met, exceptional circumstances must exist for waiving said requirement.

Applicants must also meet all obligations to which their Subclass 188A nomination was subject, including:

  • Maintaining total net assets in Western Australia of $900,000;
  • Maintaining total net business assets in Western Australia of $300,000;
  • Create one (1) full-time job for an Australian citizen, permanent resident or New Zealand passport holder;
  • Establish a business in accordance with the initial proposal contained in the Subclass 188A nomination application or a business approved by Western Australian authorities subsequent to the 188A nomination.

South Australia (SA)

South Australia requires Subclass 888A nomination applicants to:

  • Hold a SA nominated 188A visa or have a completed release form from the previous nominating state.
  • Maintain your primary residence and business location in South Australia for the 2 years before your subclass 888A nomination application.
  • Meet any special requirements as relates to your Subclass 188A nomination

Special requirements may vary depending on negotiations between the visa applicant and the South Australian authority at the 188A nomination stage. 

Tasmania

To be nominated for Subclass 888A by the Tasmanian government, you must:

  • Live in and operate a business in Tasmania for 2 years;
  • Provide a description of your contributions to the Tasmanian business community or economy;
  • Satisfy two (2) of the following three (3) criteria:
    • Employ 2 Australian citizens, permanent residents or New Zealand passport holders;
    • Have total business assets in Tasmania of $200,000 and total personal and business assets of $600,000; or
    • Your Tasmanian business must achieve an annual turnover of $300,000. 

Applicants are further required to provide a description of their future intentions.

Australian Capital Territory – Canberra (ACT)

Applicants for ACT 888A nomination must satisfy the following criteria:

  • Attend an interview with territory authorities to discuss one’s level of ACT business investment activity;
  • Meet two (2) of the following three (3) criteria:
    • Have invested $200,000 into establishing or purchasing an ACT business;
    • Invest at least $600,000 in total personal and business assets in the ACT; or
    • Employ the equivalent of 2 full-time employees who are not related to you and are Australian citizens, permanent residents or New Zealand passport holders;
  • For at least 2 years, maintain direct and continuous management of one’s main business in the ACT for the 2 years before you apply; and
  • One’s ACT main business must achieve an annual turnover of $300,000 in the 12 months immediately before the Subclass 888A nomination application. 

Northern Territory (NT)   

Northern Territory Subclass 888A nomination merely requires that applicants establish and maintain the business operations of their main business in the Northern Territory for the preceding 2 years. Applications are made via email directly to territory authorities.  

888B: Investor Stream

Requisite Period and Presence in Australia

The primary applicant must have held a Subclass 188B – Investor Stream for at least 4 years and have been present in Australia as a holder of said visa for an aggregate period of 2 years within the last 4 years. Failure to have maintained a presence in Australia for this duration will result in ineligibility. Time spent in Australia on a visa other than a Subclass 188 visa will not be counted towards this requirement. 

“Designated Investment”

The term, designated investment, refers to an investment in a security issued by an Australian State or Territory government authority, and constitutes the requisite investment for the previous provisional 188B visa application. This investment generally constitutes a minimum sum of $1.5 million.

Duration of the Investment

The designated investment must have been held for at least 4 years. Applicants who applied before 1 July 2015 need only hold the designated investment for 3 years and 11 months.

888C: Significant Investor Stream

Requisite Period and Presence in Australia

The primary applicant must have held a Subclass 188C – Significant Investor Stream visa for at least 4 years.

The residency requirement may be satisfied by the primary applicant or the primary applicant’s spouse or de facto partner. The time needed to be spent in Australia depends on who is looking to satisfy this criterion:

  • Primary Applicants must have been present in Australia visa for a cumulative 40 days per year for each year in which said applicant held a Subclass 188C visa. For example, this effectively sets a required total of 160 days over a 4 year period.
  • Spouses and De Facto Partners must have been present in Australia a cumulative 180 days per year for each year in which said applicant held a Subclass 188C visa. For example, this effectively sets a required total of 720 days over a 4 year period.

These 40 or 180 day periods do not need to be continuous. You are thus permitted to make use of the travel facility of your Subclass 188C visa.

Complying Significant Investment

For comprehensive information about the contents of the complying significant investment, please refer to our news post on the topic.

As a summary, in accordance with Migration (IMMI 15/100: Complying Investments) Instrument 2015, the term, complying significant investment, refers to a series of investments totalling at least AUD$5 million. The constituent components include:

  • Total of at least $500,000 invested, or to be invested, in one or more venture capital funds; and
  • Total of at least $1.5 million in emerging companies investments. 
  • A balancing investment of at least $3,000,000, in a range of approved investments.

For investments made in relation to 188C visas applied for before 1 July 2015, additional caveats apply for direct investments into Australian proprietary companies. Contact our lawyers to book a consultation regarding this highly specialised area. 

The rules surrounding compliance for SIV funds are extremely complex. It is pivotal that both comprehensive financial and legal advice is sought before proceeding with a 188C application, and that professional oversight is maintained over your matter until such time as you are granted your 888C visa.

Duration of the Investment

The complying significant investment must have been held continuously for the whole 4 year period during which the Subclass 188C visa has been held. Applicants who applied for their Subclass 188C visa before 1 July 2015 need only hold their “complying investment” for a continuous 3 years and 11 months. 

Applicants may still satisfy this requirement, even where an investment ceased to be held during the proscribed period where done so in accordance with “switching period” rules. More information regarding Subclass 188C investor visa switching periods can be found on our Subclass 188C page.

888D: Premium Investor Stream

Requisite Period and Presence in Australia

The primary applicant must have held a Subclass 188D – Premium Investor Stream for at least 1 year. There is no residency requirement applicable to this subclass.

“Complying Premium Investment”

For the purpose of complying premium investment, applicants are required to invest a minimum sum of $15 million in a manner prescribed for the purposes of their Subclass 188D visa. The complying investment may include:

  • ASX quoted Securities;
  • Australian Government or Semi-Government bonds and notes;
  • Corporate bonds or notes issued by a company quoted on an Australian securities exchange (or wholly owned subsidiary of a company quoted an Australian securities exchange), investment-grade Australian corporate bonds or notes as rated by an AFS licenced debt rating agency;
  • Australian proprietary companies which are not engaged exclusively in passive or speculative investment;
  • Non-residential Australian real estate;
  • Deferred annuities issued by Australian registered life companies;
  • State or Territory Government approved philanthropic contributions.

To be an eligible fund, a further requirement is that cash constitute no more than 20% of a fund’s net assets and that derivatives are to be used for risk management purposes only.

Duration of the Investment

The complying premium investment must have been held for a continuous period of 12 months.

888E: Entrepreneur Stream

Requisite Period and Presence in Australia

Primary applicants must have held a Subclass 188E – Entrepreneur Stream for a continuous period of at least 4 years immediately before the application is submitted. The primary applicant must also have been present in Australia as a holder of a Subclass 188E visa for at least 2 years in the 4 years preceding the application.

Successful Record of Entrepreneurial Activities

For the grant of a Subclass 888E visa, the primary applicant needs to satisfy either:

  • 2 key success factors; or
  • 1 key success factor and 3 supporting success factors.

“Key success factors” include:

  • Employing 2 or more Australians, permanent residents or other eligible persons;
  • Generating an annual turnover of at least $300,000;
  • Filing a provisional patent or acquiring a standard or innovation patent;
  • Receiving ongoing funding or investment in the entrepreneurial activities being pursued;
  • Entering into a partnership with a university;
  • Selling an entrepreneurial venture for $2 million.

“Supporting success factors” include:

  • Adapting the entrepreneurial activities into other business areas;
  • Receiving a statement of success from a State or Territory Government nominator;
  • Receiving sponsorship from the corporate sector;
  • Starting at least 1 other business or contributing to at least 2 other businesses;
  • Receiving formal awards or recognition;
  • Raising or contributing to social capital.

Under Australian migration law, entrepreneurial activities do not include:

  • Investment in residential real estate;
  • Labour hire;
  • Buying an existing enterprise or a franchise in Australia.

888 Visa Application Charges

  • Primary applicant: $2,590
  • Secondary applicant 18 years old and over: $1,300
  • Secondary applicant under 18 years old: $645 

*Adult applicants who cannot demonstrate “functional English” may attract an additional charge of $4,890, provided a comparable charge has not been paid previously in relation to a subclass 188 visa.

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