Debunking the Myths of Australia's Business Innovation Visa Stream (Subclass 188A) - Think Visa
Debunking the Myths of Australia’s Business Innovation Visa Stream (Subclass 188A)
September 14, 2017

Last updated on 23rd January 2020
By Pak Liu

If you’re planning to start a new business in Australia or relocating an existing business, you’ll look at the primary requirements for your business visa. You’ve landed to this page to know the right solution when applying for your business visa. Let us focus on Business Innovation Visa Australia (subclass 188A).

Read this and you’ll know the real deal you’re about to face when applying for business innovation visa australia (subclass 188A).

Disclaimer: You’re about to read an article written by a fellow Australian migration expert, Pak Liu.

Every day, I would get at least 5 enquiries that go like this:

Client: If I start a business or purchase a business in Australia, I can definitely get Permanent Residency (PR) right?

Me: Unfortunately, it is not that simple. (Tries to explain) Look…

Client: (Impatiently cuts me off) What do you mean? I am willing to invest AUD 1 million to start or buy a business. That is a lot of money!

Me: I understand and agree with you. However, the requirements of this visa are as follows… (begins my explanation)

At this point, I can visualise other immigration experts giving me imaginary high-fives or the familiar nods of empathy.

Akin to a recurring déjà vu, the above scenario has compelled me to write this article in hopes of shedding some light on the seemingly elusive Business visa.

And I figured that the best way to do this would be to address some common misconceptions categorically.

Myth Number One: No Age Requirement - Think VisaMyth Number One: No Age Requirement

I am 60 years old and I want to apply for the business innovation visa.”


Applicants must be below 55 years of age unless you can prove exceptional economic benefits such as:

  1. Bringing a new technology or expertise into Australia (e.g. Google/Apple)
  2. Generating high volumes of new jobs or skilled jobs
  3. Greatly developing business activity in a regional area
  4. Significantly increasing the revenue generation in other sectors

Myth Number Two: No Turnover Requirement - Think VisaMyth Number Two: No Turnover Requirement

“I have owned a business for 10 years. Surely, I can apply for this visa?”


For 2 out of the last 4 fiscal years, your business must have at least AUD 500,000 annual turnover in both years. This means that most small businesses would not be able to meet this requirement regardless of how long they have been operating. The business also needs to be a qualifying business meaning that it has to provide goods or services rather than simply import or export. Moreover, if your business met the requirements 5 years ago but not in 2 out of the last 4 years, the turnover requirement would not be met.

Myth Number Three: Any Ownership Shareholding - Think VisaMyth Number Three: Any Ownership Shareholding

“I own 25% of the business and the annual turnover meets AUD 500,000. This shareholding should be sufficient?”


You are required to own:

  1. 51% if the business has an annual turnover of less than AUD 400 000; or
  2. 30% if the business has an annual turnover of more than AUD 400 000; or
  3. 10% if the business is a publicly listed company

Here, I would like to draw your attention to a business which has an annual turnover of less than AUD 400,000 (you might be thinking, “but this does not meet the turnover requirement that you mentioned above!”).

You are partially right but this visa allows an applicant to nominate 2 of their main businesses. Therefore, a combined annual turnover of both businesses can be used to satisfy the turnover requirement.

Myth Number Four: Must be a Profit-making Business - Think VisaMyth Number Four: Must be a Profit-making Business

“I meet all the requirements above but my business suffered a loss in 2 out of the last 4 years. Does this mean I cannot apply for this visa?”


Applicants need to satisfy the requirement of an overall successful business career and the Department of Immigration will consider the business’s overall profit/loss.

Fortunately, losses in some years could be attributed to the depreciation of assets, restructuring of business or marketing expenses which are justifiable and will be accepted by the Department of Immigration along with documentation evidence.

Myth Number Five: No Net Business and Personal Assets Requirement - Think VisaMyth Number Five: No Net Business and Personal Assets Requirement

“Most of my assets are in the business and I am not ready to liquidate it.”


At the time of the invitation, you and your partner must prove net business and personal assets of at least AUD 800,000 that are lawfully acquired.

You will also need to show approximately AUD 300,000 to AUD 500,000 which are available for transfer to Australia within 2 years of the visa grant, depending on the state that you want to apply for.

Therefore, if you apply for this visa, we recommend that you have enough liquidated funds to be transferrable to Australia for residential and business purposes.

Myth Number Six: Confirmed PR Route - Think VisaMyth Number Six: Confirmed PR Route

“Once I get this visa, it is just a matter of time before I get PR.”


The 188A visa is a 4-year temporary residence (TR) visa.

Once granted, the applicant must set up or purchase a business in the nominating state and PR (Subclass 888) can only be applied for if the Australian business meets the following requirements while on the 188A visa:

  1. Satisfy the residency requirement of at least 1 out of 2 years accumulatively (your partner can fulfil this on your behalf) 
  2. Maintain ownership interest (at least 50%) in the Australian business for 2 years prior to the application, 10% if publicly listed company
  3. Meet an annual turnover of at least AUD 300,000 in the Australian business for 12 months prior to the application
  4. Demonstrate a genuine desire to maintain a management role in the Australian business
  5. Obtain continuous nomination by the nominating State/Territorial Government
  6. Satisfy only 2 of the following 3 requirements for 12 months prior to the application:
    • Employed at least 2 full-time Australian/New Zealand employees who are not family members in the Australian business;
    • Have the net value of at least AUD 600,000 in business and personal assets
    • Have the net value of at least AUD 200,000 in the Australian business assets (can be joint with a partner)


Based on Think Visa’s collective experience with business visas, I have highlighted some common misconceptions regarding the 188A visa and explained the minimum criteria for potential applicants.

The process itself is tedious, complex and constantly subject to changes by the Australian states as well as the Department of Immigration. Therefore, I recommend that you approach migration experts for professional advice and assistance in handling the applications.

On that basis, Think Visa is one of the leading immigration firms in the industry and we are here to make your Permanent Residency no longer a myth.


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