The Australian Significant Investor Visa and Premium Investor Visa


The Australian Significant Investor Visa (SIV) is one of the streams of the Business Innovation and Investment program. The visa has only been available since 24 November 2012 and is designed to provide a streamlined pathway to permanent residency to high net worth business people and investors.

It is designed to provide a boost to the Australian economy by attracting significant investment from around the world. Successful applicants are required to invest AUD$5 million into “complying investments” for a minimum period of 4 years before being eligible to apply for a permanent residency visa.

SIVs have major advantages over other Business Innovation 188 visas.  These elements provide great advantage:

  • SIV provisional visa holders need only spend a minimum period of 160 days living in Australia during the entire 4 year period of their visa, in order to satisfy residency requirements under the permanent residency visa 888;
  • Applicants do not need to satisfy a Business Innovation points test;
  • Applicants are not limited by their age; and,
  • It is able to be extended for 2 periods of 2 years on each occasion.

So what are “complying investments“? Recent changes (from 1 July 2015) have further defined the scope of allowable investments.

Under the new framework, SIV applicants will be required to invest at least $5 million over four years in complying investments, which must now include:

  1. At least $500,000 in eligible Australian venture capital or growth private equity fund(s) investing in start-up and small private companies. The Government expects to increase this to $1 million for new applications within two years as the market responds;
  2. At least $1.5 million in an eligible managed fund(s) or Listed Investment Companies (LICs) that invest in emerging companies listed on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX); and
  3. A ‘balancing investment’ of up to $3 million in managed fund(s) or LICs that invest in a combination of eligible assets that include other ASX listed companies, eligible corporate bonds or notes, annuities and real property (subject to the 10% limit on residential real estate).

Austrade will also become a nominator for the SIV, alongside State and Territory Governments.  Direct investment in real estate has never been a complying investment for SIV and this will not change under the new arrangements. Indirect investment in residential real estate through managed funds will also now be limited. Importantly, a SIV holder can still independently invest in residential real estate so long as it complies with foreign investment rules, but this would not count as a complying investment to qualify for a visa.

It is a requirement of all applicants that they have a genuine and realistic commitment to reside in the Australian State or Territory who nominates them under the program and to continue to do business or maintain investment activity in Australia after the complying investment matures.

The Australian Government recently announced reforms to improve the SIV programme including the introduction of a new Premium Investor Visa (PIV) offering a more expeditious, 12 month pathway to permanent residency than the SIV, for those meeting a $15 million threshold. This visa is designed to target talented entrepreneurs and innovators. The PIV will offer an accelerated 12 month pathway to permanent residency, for those meeting a $15 million threshold. The PIV will be available at the invitation of the Australian Government only, with potential recipients to be nominated by Austrade. This programme will be rolled out over the next year, focussing on attracting a small number of highly talented and entrepreneurial individuals. States and Territories will play an important role in helping to identify potential applicants

Australian Visa Law have significant and ongoing experience in relation not only to Business Innovation and Investment visas but further, in relation to the Significant Investor Visa.

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