Reading time: 6 minutes

In an increasingly globalised world, it has become easier to start a business in another country. Indeed, the Australian government actively encourages foreign citizens to start businesses in Australia and contribute to the country’s economy. Perhaps you have an existing business model that you wish to take to Australia. Alternatively, maybe you have been sitting on a great business idea that you know Australians will love. In that case, now is the perfect time to put your plans into action. To help, this article explains the different ways to start a business in Australia as a foreign citizen.

This article will explain the visas you need, as well as the legal and requirements you are expected to meet.

What Kind of Visas Are Available?

The Australian government is committed to diversifying business expertise and encouraging entrepreneurial talent. Therefore, the Business Innovation and Investment Programme aims to provide visas to eligible foreign citizens who want to start a business in Australia. These visas are:

In addition, there are also specific visas for foreign citizens who want to set up businesses in regional, rural or low-growth areas of Australia. These visas operate in tandem with various state and territory-based economic initiatives. The following section will explore Business Innovation and Investment visas in more detail. 

Importantly, be sure you have the legal right to work in Australia. The consequences for starting a business without the proper authorisation to do so can be damaging. It may be beneficial to speak to an immigration lawyer who can explain your options available to you.

Business Innovation and Investment (Provisional) Visa 

The Business Innovation and Investment Visa (Provisional) is a 3-step process. 

  • 1 – Submit an expression of interest through Skill Select
  • 2 – Be nominated by a state or territory government agency or Austrade 
  • 3 – Receive an invitation from the Department of Home Affairs to apply for the visa.

There are four visa streams available:

  1. Business Innovation ;
  2. Investor;
  3. Significant Investor; and
  4. Entrepreneur. 

Each stream requires you to meet different financial thresholds for investment, or you may need to show that you have the necessary business skills and that you want to establish, develop and manage a new or existing business in Australia. You will need to apply for and obtain a nomination from a State or Territory government agency  or Austrade (on behalf of the Australian government). Each State or Territory may have eligibility requirements that are in addition to the requirements set by the Department of Home Affairs. 

You can bring your immediate family to Australia on these visas. However, they must also meet all health and character checks.

Business Innovation and Investment (Permanent) Visa

Once you have met the requirements of your provisional visa, you can apply for the Business Innovation and Investment (Permanent) Visa subject to meeting additional requirements. This visa requires you to meet other financial thresholds, as well as health and character tests. It gives you and your family permanent residency in Australia and the opportunity to apply for citizenship later.

Starting a Business in Australia

If you are a foreign citizen and have successfully obtained an Australian visa, you can begin to develop your business. Firstly, consider the legal and regulatory issues associated with starting and operating a business in Australia. Specifically, you should consider:

Importantly, it is appropriate to seek legal advice with the legal and regulatory steps involved in the process. For example, you may need assistance choosing a company structure, securing a purchase or lease when looking for premises or obtaining local development approval.

You should also be aware of your legal obligations with regard to how:

  • much tax you need to pay;
  • or whether you want to employ workers;
  • your business can ensure the health and safety of your workers;
  • your business can meet the reporting and disclosure requirements set by the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC);
  • you will maintain the privacy of your employees and confidential business information; and
  • you will comply with consumer law.

Keep in mind that your obligations will depend on the type of business you wish to start in Australia. There is no one-size-fits-all approach, and it is prudent to understand the legal and regulatory steps involved before you jump head-straight into a business. 

LegalVision Guide to Australian Business Visas

This guide sets out the key business innovation and investor visas available to individuals and businesses looking to start or manage a business or make a significant financial investment in Australia.

The publication also includes a list of frequently asked questions about business migration pathways in Australia.

Download Now

Key Takeaways

If you are a foreign citizen and are looking to expand or start a new business in Australia, you need to have the right visa to do so. There are a number of visas you can apply for, so make sure you understand the criteria for each before applying. Once you have obtained your visa, you need to consider the legal and regulatory issues associated with operating a business in Australia. You should seek legal advice to ensure your business is complying with Australian law and regulations.

For more information on the process of starting a business in Australia, contact LegalVision’s business lawyers on 1300 544 755 or fill out the form on this page.

Frequently Asked Questions

What visas are available?

The available visas are the Business Talent (Permanent) Visa (Subclass 132), Business Innovation and Investment (Provisional )Visa (Subclass 188) and Business Innovation and Investment (Permanent) Visa (Subclass 888).

How long can I stay in Australia on Visa Subclass 132?

Once you have obtained this visa, you can stay, work and study in Australia indefinitely. In addition, you will have access to Medicare and can apply for citizenship if you have remained in the country for the appropriate length of time.

What are the other considerations of starting a business in Australia?

When starting a business in Australia, you need to consider an appropriate business structure. Likewise, think about where you will locate your business premises and how you can protect your business’ intellectual property. Further, there may also be a legal requirement to obtain necessary licences.


Redundancies and Restructuring: Understanding Your Employer Obligations

Thursday 7 July | 11:00 - 11:45am

If you plan on making a role redundant, it is crucial that you understand your employer obligations. Our free webinar will explain.
Register Now

How to Sponsor Foreign Workers For Your Tech Business

Wednesday 13 July | 11:00 - 11:45am

Need web3 talent for your tech business? Consider sponsoring workers from overseas. Join our free webinar to learn more.
Register Now

Advertising 101: Social Media, Influencers and the Law

Thursday 21 July | 11:00 - 11:45am

Learn how to promote your business on social media without breaking the law. Register for our free webinar today.
Register Now

Structuring for Certainty in Uncertain Times

Tuesday 26 July | 12:00 - 12:45pm

Learn how to structure to weather storm and ensure you can take advantage of the “green shoots” opportunities arising on the other side of a recession.
Register Now

Playing for the Prize: How to Run Trade Promotions

Thursday 28 July | 11:00 - 11:45am

Running a promotion with a prize? Your business has specific trade promotion obligations. Join our free webinar to learn more.
Register Now

Web3 Essentials: Understanding SAFT Agreements

Tuesday 2 August | 11:00 - 11:45am

Learn how SAFT Agreements can help your Web3 business when raising capital. Register today for our free webinar.
Register Now

Understanding Your Annual Franchise Update Obligations

Wednesday 3 August | 11:00 - 11:45am

Franchisors must meet annual reporting obligations each October. Understand your legal requirements by registering for our free webinar today.
Register Now

Legal Essentials for Product Manufacturers

Thursday 11 August | 11:00 - 11:45am

As a product manufacturer, do you know your legal obligations if there is a product recall? Join our free webinar to learn more.
Register Now

About LegalVision: LegalVision is a commercial law firm that provides businesses with affordable and ongoing legal assistance through our industry-first membership.

By becoming a member, you'll have an experienced legal team ready to answer your questions, draft and review your contracts, and resolve your disputes. All the legal assistance your business needs, for a low monthly fee.

Learn more about our membership

Need Legal Help? Submit an Enquiry

If you would like to get in touch with our team and learn more about how our membership can help your business, fill out the form below.

Our Awards

  • 2020 Innovation Award 2020 Excellence in Technology & Innovation Finalist – Australasian Law Awards
  • 2020 Employer of Choice Award 2020 Employer of Choice Winner – Australasian Lawyer
  • 2020 Financial Times Award 2021 Fastest Growing Law Firm - Financial Times APAC 500
  • 2020 AFR Fast 100 List - Australian Financial Review
  • 2021 Law Firm of the Year Award 2021 Law Firm of the Year - Australasian Law Awards
  • 2022 Law Firm of the Year Winner 2022 Law Firm of the Year - Australasian Law Awards