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The subclass 188C visa, or significant investor visa, is an Australian visa for high net worth investors. To receive the visa, you must invest at least AUD$5 million into complying investments in Australia. If your application is successful, the visa lasts for four years and three months. You may then be able to use it as a pathway to permanent residency. This article will outline:

  • how to apply for the visa;
  • the relevant requirements to lodge an application for the visa; and
  • the key differences between these requirements in each Australian state and territory.

How Do I Apply?

If you intend to apply for the subclass 188C visa, you will need to lodge an expression of interest with the Department of Home Affairs. In your expression of interest, you can either:

  • nominate a specific state or territory in which you would like to reside; or
  • remain available for nomination by any state or territory.

You do not need to provide supporting documentation at this stage of the application. However, you must be able to provide evidence that the information supplied in your expression of interest is correct at the time that you are invited to apply for the visa.

If you are successful, you will be invited to lodge an application for the visa. You may then be nominated by:

  • a state;
  • a territory; or
  • the Chief Executive Officer of Austrade, the government’s trade, investment and education promotion agency.

Requirements 

Applicant

When assessing an application for the Subclass 188C visa, the Department of Home Affairs does not impose restrictions relating to: 

  • English language proficiency; or 
  • age limits. 

Residence requirements are also lower for the Subclass 188C visa compared to Subclass 188A and 188B visas. Under the subclass 188C visa, you must spend a minimum of 40 days per year in Australia.  

Complying Investment Framework

The complying investment framework outlines the necessary structure of a Subclass 188C applicant’s investment in Australia. Under the framework, you must invest at least AUD$5 million into a complying significant investment. You must: 

  • hold this investment for at least four years; and
  • maintain business or investment activity in Australia after this investment matures. 

There are also several requirements relating to the significant investment you make. According to these requirements, you must either make the investment:

  • directly in your own name;
  • through a company in which you own the total amount of issued shares; or
  • through a valid trust of which you are the trustee and the beneficiary.

You may also be eligible for the visa if you make the investment in any of the above situations together with your spouse or de facto partner.

Under the complying investor framework, the AUD$5 million investment you make must include:

  • at least AUD$500,000 in either eligible Australian venture capital or growth private equity funds that invest in start-ups and small private companies; 
  • at least AUD$1.5 million in eligible managed funds or listed Investment Companies (LICs) that invest in emerging companies listed on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX); and
  • a ‘balancing investment’ of up to AUD$3 million in managed funds or LICs that invest in a combination of eligible assets (such as other ASX listed companies, eligible corporate bonds or notes, annuities and property).

Key Differences between States

Each state and territory in Australia imposes its own state-wide requirements. The structure of the $AUD5 million investment varies depending upon the state or territory that nominates you. 

For example, New South Wales requires that you invest AUD$1.5 million in NSW Waratah Bonds.

South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria also require evidence that the investment will materially benefit each state’s economy.

Key Takeaways

A subclass 188C visa, or significant investor visa, is for high net worth investors who intend to invest in significant complying investments in Australia. If you intend to apply for the 188C visa, you will need to:

  • submit an expression of interest; and
  • ensure that you are eligible for nomination.

There are no requirements relating to an applicant’s age and English language proficiency. However, each state has its own framework relating to how you must structure the AUD$5 million investment. You should therefore carefully consider the requirements in your preferred state. 

If you need help with applying for a subclass 188C visa, contact LegalVision’s immigration lawyers on 1300 544 755 or fill out the form on this page.

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