On 14 October 2014, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection ('DIBP') announced a number of upcoming changes to the Business Innovation and Investment (Provisional) Visa ('Subclass 188 visa’).

While the precise timing of these changes remains unannounced, they are scheduled to occur during the 2014-15 programme year.

Yesterday’s announcement highlighted the below key changes:

  • Introduction of a new Premium Investor Visa (‘PIV’) stream to the Subclass 188 visa which will require an investment of AUD15 million into a complying investment and nomination by Austrade. Holders of the PIV will not have a residence requirement and will be eligible for permanent residence after maintaining the investment for 12 months.

  • A residency requirement of 180 days per year for secondary holders of the Subclass 188 visa under the Significant Investor stream.

  • Allowance of ‘role swapping’ between the primary and secondary applicants while holding a Significant Investor Stream visa in order to meet the residency requirements towards permanent residence. 

  • Introduction of Austrade as a nominator for the Significant Investor stream and also as policy controller in relation to the assessment of complying investments. 

  • A requirement that the complying investments remain unencumbered for the entire duration of the provisional Significant Investor visa.

The DIBP has indicated that the changes relating to the Significant Investor visa will not apply to current holders of the visa or current applications processing with the Department.

Background:

The Subclass 188 visa was introduced by the Australian Government in November 2012 in an effort to attract foreign investment into Australia. The Significant Investor stream was created within this subclass requiring a minimum investment of AUD5 million into a complying investment for four years. With minimal residence requirements and no points test, this has been an attractive option for high net worth individuals. Currently, the visa requires the primary applicant to be present in Australia for a minimum of 160 days (cumulatively) during the course of the four year visa term and to also maintain the investment in order to then qualify for permanent residence.