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Australia to simplify processes for these four visa types from July

In the next 3 months Australia will be simplifying several of its visa categories which lead to permanent residence.


Image: Adobe Stock

Australia offers numerous routes to permanent residency, with skilled and sponsored visas being some of the more popular ones for many migrants seeking to live in the Land Down Under.

Businesslive reports a surge in the number of South Africans inquiring about emigration since the onset of COVID-19.  Doctors, lawyers, farmers, engineers and entrepreneurs are reportedly among those seeking improved employment and lifestyle options outside of South Africa.

Australia visa changes coming in July

Australia is one of the preferred destinations for South African emigrants, accounting for the largest number of South African expats after the United Kingdom (UK).

The Australian government introduced a Premium Investor Scheme in 2015. Nine different visa options were available to applicants who wished to enter Australia under the country’s Business Innovation and Investment Programme.

The government has recently announced that it will simplify the Australian Business Innovation and Investment Programme by reducing the number of visa options available under the programme to just four visa streams from 1 July.

Sam Hopwood, consultant for Sable International which handles migration to Australia, states that this development will enable simpler and clearer pathways to Australian residency, as quoted in Businesstech.

Four Australian visa options available:


The Business Innovation stream is the perfect option for prospective emigrants who own and operate a successful business.

This is a particularly useful option for anyone over the age of 45, who would not be eligible to relocate to Australia under other visa streams which are restricted to applicants under the age of 45.

To qualify, applicants must score at least 65 points on the immigration points test and be under 55. A state or territory may choose to waive the age requirement if the applicant’s business is determined to be of exceptional economic benefit.

To prove business acumen, applicants will be required to :

  • Have owned a business for at least two out of the previous four fiscal years and be able to demonstrate at least A$700,000 turnover.
  • Have net business and personal assets to the value of A$1.25 million for the main applicant and their partner (or both combined) that can be used to establish a business in Australia.

“If you’re granted the Business Innovation stream visa (subclass 188A), it will now be valid for five years from the date it’s issued,” said Hopwood.

“After running a business in Australia, you can transition to the Business Innovation and Investment visa (subclass 888A), which is a permanent residence visa, provided your business satisfies certain requirements related to turnover and financial assets.”

“You will also have the option of extending the 188A if you do not meet the business turnover requirements for the permanent 888A.”


This has not been a popular option due to exceptionally difficult requirements.  Hopwood states that there have not been many applicants for this type of visa in the past. As a result, the government is revamping this visa stream in order to attract more applicants.

Currently, applicants must provide proof of funds of at least A$200,000 to be able to conduct business activity in Australia. This amount will be scrapped in July.

“However, you’ll now need to be endorsed (not merely nominated) by a state or territory government and you will still have to show a viable business plan for your chosen activity,” said Hopwood.

“This activity could be commercialisation of a product or service, or the development of an enterprise or business. It may not be residential real estate, labour hire, or the purchase of an existing business in Australia and both you and your family must meet a good character requirement.”

Like the Business Innovation stream, this provisional visa (subclass 188E), will be valid for five years from the date of issue. Applicants will be able to convert to the permanent residence visa (subclass 888E), provided they can document successful entrepreneurial activities while holding the provisional visa.


Applicants with a successful career in business ownership or investment management, may be eligible for this type of visa, which is only a temporary visa.

The requirements state that applicants must be under 55. Similar to the Business Innovation stream, a state or territory may waive the age requirement if an applicant is considered to have exceptional economic benefit.

The visa requires applicants to :

  • Invest at least A$1.5 million in Australian state or territory government bonds and leave the investment there for four years.
  • Have at least three years’ experience, a record of success and a high level of skill in business and/or investment management.
  • Have net business, investment and personal assets of at least A$2.25 million and score at least 65 points in the points test.

“You must show a realistic commitment to continue and maintain business or investment activity in Australia after your initial investment matures. The initial provisional visa (subclass 188B) will now give you the right to live in Australia for five years,” said Hopwood.

“As part of the changes, it has been suggested that you may apply for permanent residency after maintaining your investment for three years, although you will need to maintain the investment for the fourth year to be granted the permanent visa. You must also have lived in Australia for at least two of those years.”


The advantage of the Significant Investor stream, compared to the Investor Stream, is that there is no maximum age limit. However, applicants must invest at least A$5 million in specific investments in Australia to qualify.  They must demonstrate a genuine intention to maintain that investment for the full duration of the provisional visa.

According to Businesstech, there are restrictions on the types of investments applicants can enter. There are specific requirements regarding the structure of investments that applicants must meet in order to be eligible for permanent residency.

The most notable change (after 1 July) to this option is that applicants will now be able to extend their provisional visas twice (two two-year extensions are possible) before applying for permanent residency, provided applicants maintain their investments over this time, Hopwood states.

“You may wish to do this if you don’t meet the business or residency requirements after three years. Previously, you had to apply to a separate Significant Investor Extension stream to extend your stay in Australia for those four years.”

“As with the other Australian Business Innovation and Investment Programme visas, the initial provisional visa will now be valid for five years, and you’re permitted to apply for permanent residency after three years.”