The Federal Government’s National Innovation and Science Agenda introduced the Australian Entrepreneur Visa. In line with the focus on startups, innovators and entrepreneurs, the Federal Government has made changes to the visa system aimed at drawing in and retaining key people with the talent to feed the Ideas Boom. This article explains what this visa is and how an individual can meet the eligibility requirements.

1. What is the Australian Entrepreneur Visa?

On 10 September, a new Australian Entrepreneur visa became available for foreign entrepreneurs interested in developing or commercialising their innovations in Australia. This visa is a new stream of the Business Innovation and Investment Program and falls under the Business Innovation and Investment (Provisional) Visa (subclass 188).

Pre-existing streams under the Visa include:

  • Business Innovation Stream;
  • Investor Stream;
  • Significant Investor Stream; and
  • Premium Investor Stream.

The entrepreneur stream allows a recipient to undertake compliant entrepreneurial activity in Australia as well as travel in and out of Australia and bring family members to Australia.

Holding the Subclass 188 Visa also opens up the opportunity to seek permanent residence in Australia by applying for a Business Innovation and Investment (Permanent) Visa (subclass 888).

2. What are the Eligibility Requirements?

Applying for the provisional visa is a complicated process. To be eligible to submit an application, you must first submit an Expression of Interest (EOI) to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (the Department) and then receive an invitation from SkillSelect. SkillSelect is the Department’s online management service for the skilled migration program.

Alternatively, Austrade or the relevant state or territory government can review the EOI. These bodies can also nominate you to apply for the visa. Nominations are subject to specific criteria and can include an initial discussion with the interested authority.

Once nominated you must apply for the visa online within 60 days. The visa application requires a significant amount of supporting documentation so you are encouraged to begin compiling these documents as soon as you receive your invitation.

3. What Additional Requirements Must I Satisfy?

After you receive your application, there are still a few more hoops to jump through, including:

  • Meeting health requirements;
  • Providing character requirements (including a police check from each country you have lived in for 12 months or more in the past ten years) for you and your dependants who are coming with you; and
  • Signing the Australian values statement.

You must also:

  • Be under 55 years of age (unless waived);
  • Have competent English (evidenced); and
  • Be undertaking or proposing to undertake a complying entrepreneur activity in Australia or have a genuine intention to do so.

4. What is a Complying Entrepreneur Activity?

A complying activity is one which relates to an innovative idea that will result in the commercialisation of a product or service in Australia. However, this excludes residential real estate, labour hire or the purchase of an existing enterprise or franchise.

The applicant must have a business plan which explains the above. They must also have at least one legally enforceable agreement to receive funding of $200,000 or more by an approved entity and must have held a 30% (or greater) interest in their entrepreneurial entity when the funding agreement was established.


Applications are now open for the Australian Entrepreneur visa. This new visa will aim to bring talented entrepreneurs to Australia to live, work, and contribute to Australia’s Ideas Boom. If you have any questions about startups or the new Australian Entrepreneur Visa and how we can help, get in touch with our startup lawyers on 1300 544 755.

Madeleine Hunt
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