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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.


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