188C Significant Investor Visa
188C Significant Investor Visa allows high net worth individuals to make a complying investment of $5,000,000 into the Australian economy in return for a 5-year visa. During this period, you will have 3 years to satisfy the requirements to transition to permanent residency.
Despite the higher capital requirement, the SIV presents clear advantages as compared to the business innovation (188A) and investor (188B) streams. The advantages include:
- No age threshold.
- No Schedule 7A points test.
- Preferential visa processing.
Significant Investor Visa Criteria
Nomination: You must be nominated by Austrade or a State or Territory authority to apply for a SIV with each nominating entity having their own requirements.
Residency: With the State nomination, you, or your partner being the secondary visa applicant, must demonstrate a genuine intention to reside in the nominating State. In contrast, if you have received nomination from Austrade, you are not locked to reside in any particular State or Territory.
Investment: Prior to the visa being issued, you must make “Complying Significant Investment” of at least $5,000,000 through an Australian Financial Services (AFS) licensed manager domiciled in Australia. The Victorian nomination requires that your fund manager has an office and the investment be directed in the State.
What is a “Complying Significant Investment?”
Complying significant investment is often referred to as a “SIV investment”. The components of this investment are strictly apportioned and regulated by the legislative instrument, and extracted as follows:
- Venture Capital Fund – minimum 10% (that is, $500,000)
- Emerging Companies Investment – minimum 30% (that is, $1.5 million)
- Balancing Investment – maximum 60% or (that is, $3 million)
You cannot have direct involvement in managing your complying significant investment. Rules and regulations surrounding this matter go beyond Australian migration law, meaning you must engage an AFS licenced fund manager to oversee your complying significant investment.
What is a Venture Capital Fund in the context of 188C Visa?
This fund must be registered with AusIndustry and the list of registered VC Funds can be found here. It can only incorporate businesses and enterprises with less than $250 million in value. It cannot contain property, development, land ownership, finance, insurance, construction or passive investment.
When a VC registration is initially issued, it is usually a conditional registration for two (2) years that requires the VC Fund to raise monies. During this time, the VC Fund is open to new investors. As screening and due diligence on investee companies may take a fairly long period of time, some VC funds have comparatively higher cash holdings, with few having 100% cash holdings before closure to new investors.
The conditional registration becomes unconditional when the VC Fund has raised sufficient monies. A majority of the monies must be invested in a certain timeline.
VC Funds usually have longer spans of time ranging on average between seven (7) and ten (10) years.
What is Emerging Companies Investment in the context of 188C Visa?
It may comprise with one or more of the following:
- Securities quoted on ASX Limited
- Securities quoted on an Australian securities exchange other than ASX Limited – maximum 20%
- Securities not quoted on an Australian securities exchange – maximum 20%
- Securities quoted on a foreign securities exchange – maximum 10%
- Cash held by Australian banks, including deposits, bank bills and other cash‑like instruments – maximum 20%
At the time of the initial investment, each security cannot exceed $500 million in market capitalization. If a security exceeds $500 million in market value at a later stage, it must not exceed 30% of this fund.
What is Balancing Investment in the context of 188C Visa?
It may comprise with one or more of the following:
- Companies, real estate investment trusts (REITs) or infrastructure trusts, quoted on an Australian securities exchange.
- Corporate bonds or notes issued by an Australian exchange listed entity or investment-grade rated Australian corporate bonds or notes rated by an AFS licensed debt rating agency.
- Deferred annuities issued by Australian registered life companies (but paybacks cannot commence during the provisional visa period).
- Property in Australia (subject to 10% limit on residential real estate).
- Cash held by Australian banks, including deposits, bank bills and other cash‑like instruments – maximum 20%.
When do I make the investment for 188C Visa?
You may elect to make the SIV investment at an earlier stage, but most of our clients prefer to make the investment at the latest possible time.
When the SIV application is submitted, the Department assesses it and, if satisfactory, issues an invitation to make the SIV investment. You will then have 60 days to do so. If you require additional time, you may request an extension of time to facilitate the complying significant investment.
As you may prefer to sort out overseas money transfers out of your country ahead of time, some SIV fund managers with an authorized deposit-taking institution (ADI) licence from the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) may allow you to “park” your investment money.
Am I required to achieve a certain rate of return on my SIV investment?
Success (or otherwise) of the complying significant investment is not a relevant assessment criterion for the transition. In other words, performance of the fund has no effect on your eligibility to transition to permanent residency as long as you maintain your SIV investment.
Can I modify my complying significant investment?
Due to the strict requirements of this stream, great care must be taken when modifying your SIV investment. The period during which you are making modifications is called “switching period”. Failure to adhere to the regulations may prejudice your prospects for permanent residency.
During a switching period, you can withdraw funds from, or cancel, the SIV investment. The switching period ends when the withdrawn funds are reinvested to constitute a new SIV investment. If this period has been equal to or less than 30 days in duration, the investment is deemed to have continued. If it exceeds 30 days, you may be ineligible to transition to 888 visa at a later stage.
SIV fund managers should be able to effect the modifications without the fund becoming non-compliant.
What are the nomination requirements?
Each nominating entity, that is State Government or Austrade, is responsible for setting their own requirements in relation to their nominations. Due to this diversity of requirements, and their ever-changing criteria, it is crucial to obtain up-to-date professional advice in relation to your 188C visa application. Do not rely on hearsay and outdated information on the internet, as an improper nomination application can waste your precious time and resources.
Is 188C Visa Permanent Residency?
Any form of a 188 Visa, including 188C, is a provisional visa that allows you to apply for Permanent Residency if you satisfy the criteria whilst holding 188 visa. It is not just a temporary visa, but provisional in a sense that it allows transition to PR in the future.
Significant Investor Visa Extension
It is not always possible for Subclass 188C holders to meet the subclass 888C transition requirements by the expiry of their provisional visa. For this reason, it is possible to extend your provisional visa, provided you meet certain prerequisites. These prerequisites ensure that extensions are only granted to persons genuinely working towards transition to Subclass 888C.
Applicants applying for an extension on or before 1 July 2020 are subject to very different criteria than those applying before that date. If you have applied for your extension prior to 1 July 2020, please have a look at our extension stream page, which can be found here.
Criteria – From 1 July 2020
Unlike the previous regime, the current scheme does not provide for separate extension streams, but rather incorporates extension provisions into the Subclass 188A visa.
Applicants will be eligible for a 2 year extension, provided they continue to maintain their complying significant investment.
Significant Investor Visa Fees
In addition to the cost of your investment, the Australian Government charges fees for lodging your visa application. The total cost depends on a number of factors, including the English proficiency of each adult applicant and the number of secondary applicants.
Subclass 188C is payable in 2 installments:
- Base application charge: $7,880
- Additional applicant charge for an applicant who is at least 18: $3,940
- Additional applicant charge for an applicant who is less than 18: $1,975
- Primary applicant without functional English: $9,795
- Secondary applicant who does not demonstrate functional English: $4,890
- Other applicants: Nil
For a family of two (2) adults and two (2) children, assuming each adult evidences functional English, the total application fee will be $15,770.
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