The Australian government is reforming the Business Innovation & Investment (BIIP) Program to maximize the economic benefits for Australia. The changes are wide-ranging and cut the existing 9 streams to just 4. Further, there are changes to eligibility requirements. These changes will take effect from 1 July 2021.
Following a round of consultation with public & private stakeholders, the government of Australia decided that investment requirements could be increased and that BIIP could benefit from simplification & streamlining. The BIIP program was for sometime being invariably oversubscribed, so much so that the application backlog for the program stood at close to 20,000 at the end of last year.
Mr. Alan Tudge, Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs said – “Our Migration Program for 2020-21 is clearly focused on job creators, those with key skills and migrants who are going to invest in Australia’s future”. As further proof of this focus in Australian migration policies, the number of places available in the BIIP has almost doubled from 6862 in 2019-20 to 13,500 places for 2020-21.
The key changes that will take effect from 1 July 2021 are as follows :
- The program will be simplified from 9 to 4 visa streams – Business Innovation, Entrepreneur, Investor and Significant Investor. There will be a clear pathway to permanent residency for each category.
- The Premium Investor, Significant Business History and Venture Capital Entrepreneur visas will be closed to new applications form 1 July 2021. Applications already lodged for these visas will still be processed.
- Provisional (temporary) visa holders in all 4 streams will now be able to apply for Permanent Residency (PR) after only 3 years, provided they meet all requirements. However, the provisional visa will be valid for 5 years, which in effect means that applicants will get additional time to meet all requirements for PR.
- Business Innovation & Significant Investor stream visa holders will continue to be able to extend their provisional visas if they do not meet the business and residence thresholds in the required timeframe.
→ Business Innovation provisional visa holders can apply for a 2-year extension provided they demonstrate a realistic commitment to continuing to manage a business that has been actively operating in Australia for the previous 2 years.
→ Significant Investor provisional visa holders can apply for TWO 2-year extensions provided they continue to maintain their complying significant investment.
- The requirements for Business Innovation visa holders will be increased to ensure the program is attracting migrants with proven business skills. Business Innovation visa holders will be required to hold business assets of AUD 1.25 million (up from AUD 800,000) and have an annual turnover of AUD 750,000 (up from AUD 500,000) to prove their business acumen.
- The AUD 200,000 funding threshold required for Entrepreneur visa applicants will be scrapped. Applicants will need to be endorsed by a State or Territory government. This will give states & territories an additional way to attract international entrepreneurs.
- The government will also be consulting widely with industry and inform of any further changes to the program. Any further changes will be announced in the early half of next year, with sufficient time for businesses & investors to adjust.
During the 2019-20 migration program year, BIIP nomination places were used by early 2020 – just over half way through the program year. Hence, our advice to clients who are considering the BIIP program as a possible route to migration to Australia would be for them to apply early. Further, clients should note that going forward the Australian government will continue to have a preference for businesses that are perceived to benefit economic recovery to the state or territory such as health industries, job creation, regional business opportunities, larger investments, etc.