188 Significant Investor visas – Background

Opportunities for foreign investors to invest in Queensland

  • Purpose of visa is to encourage investment for high net worth individuals seeking investment migration.
  • 888 permanent residency visa given after 4 years of investment activity whilst holding a 188 provisional visa.

Requirements – 188 Significant Investor Visa Complying investments

Basic requirements

  • AUD $5 million into “complying investment” in Australia for minimum of 4 years.
  • Federal government program – but State sponsored.
  • Qld specific requirements, e.g. minimum AUD $1.5 million into Queensland Treasury Corporation and balance into a “complying investment”.
  • Restrictions on investing in proprietary limited companies that own land (which is rented out) or companies that undertake passive/speculative investment.

‘Complying investments’ – Potential vehicles

  1. Australian govt bonds (Qld: Queensland Treasury Corporation’s Queensland Bonds used for significant infrastructure projects in Queensland).
  2. An unlisted management investment scheme (MIS).
  • MIS as defined under the Corporations Act and regulated by ASIC.
  1. Direct investment into an Australian proprietary company that runs a “complying business”
  • Must be a ‘qualifying business’: operated for the purpose of making profit through the provision of goods or services to the public and is not operated substantially for the purpose of speculative or passive investment.

Restrictions

Switching investments

  • Holder of a Significant Investor visa may switch between complying investments provided the sum withdrawn corresponds with the sum reinvested.

Public companies not permitted

  • Foreign investor cannot invest through a public company.

Direct ownership not permitted

  • Foreigners and their foreign entities cannot invest Australian assets directly, except for the Australian govt bonds.

Investments in real property

  • Will NOT be considered as a complying investment – however foreigners can invest in an ASIC registered MIS which can then invest in real estate in Australia.

MIS – Complying investment requirements

Categories:

  • infrastructure projects in Australia
  • cash held by Australian deposit taking institutions
  • bonds issued by the Commonwealth or a State or Territory government
  • bonds, equity, hybrids or other corporate debt in companies and trusts listed on an Australian Stock Exchange
  • bonds or term deposits issued by Australian financial institutions
  • real estate in Australia; and
  • Australian agribusiness.

Proving complying investment:

Responsible fund manager of MIS to make a declaration on Form 1413 that the MIS is compliant for the purposes of the visa.

Direct investment into an Australian proprietary company

Following criteria to be met:

  • the company must genuinely operate a qualifying business in Australia
  • the applicant must obtain an ownership interest in the company
  • the company must be registered with ASIC; and
  • the business must have an Australian Business Number.

Timing to make the complying investment

The investment must be made before the grant of the visa.

Residence Requirement

Primary visa holder must be resident in Australia for at least 40 days for every year or part year they have held a provisional Significant Investor visa.