COVID-19 Concessions for Business visas

The new amendments provide concessions for Subclass 888 (Business Innovation and Investment (Permanent)) and Subclass 188 (Business Innovation and Investment (Provisional)) visa applicants and holders to assist those who are on a pathway from a provisional visa to a permanent visa, who have demonstrated a commitment to the Australian economy, and who have since been adversely affected by the restrictions imposed as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The amendments provide concessions in relation to application requirements, and in relation to visa criteria requiring specified periods of residence, and specified levels of business and investment activity. The amendments also permit Subclass 188 visa holders to obtain another Subclass 188 visa if they need more time to establish a qualifying business in Australia.

This includes the following measures:

  •  allow applications for a Subclass 888 visa to be made by a former Subclass 188 visa holder whose visa ceased during a concession period when travel was restricted due to the COVID-19 pandemic;
  • ensure that holders and former holders of a Subclass 188 visa who are not able to meet the requirements to hold a visa, or not able to meet the Australian residency requirements for a Subclass 888 visa, as a result of COVID-19 travel restrictions, are still able to apply for and be granted the visa if certain requirements are met;
  • allow former holders of a Subclass 188 visa in the Business Innovation stream, who held the visa during a concession period, to apply for a Subclass 188 visa in the Business Innovation Extension stream, and to allow Subclass 188 visa holders and former holders affected by COVID-19 travel restrictions to apply for up to two Subclass 188 visas in the Business Innovation Extension stream (previously only one visa extension in that stream is available);
  • modify the investment requirements for applicants for a Subclass 888 visa in the Investor stream who hold or held a Subclass 188 visa granted before 1 July 2019, so that investments can be withdrawn or cancelled during a concession period where the holder of a Subclass 188 visa in the Investor stream has met the requirement to live in Australia for two years;
  •  modify the investment requirements for applicants for a Subclass 888 visa in the Significant Investor stream who hold or held a Subclass 188 visa granted before 1 July 2019, so that they are able to withdraw or cancel their balancing investment component during a concession period, while maintaining their investment component in venture capital and emerging companies;
  • as a consequential amendment, amend the primary criteria for the Subclass 188 visa in the Significant Investor Extension stream so that applicants who first held a Subclass 188 visa granted before 1 July 2019 are not prevented from accessing the visa if they have withdrawn or cancelled investments in accordance with the concession above; and
  • ensure that visa holders whose visa is subject to a condition requiring them to hold an investment throughout the visa period are still able to comply with the condition after withdrawing or cancelling investments under the new arrangements.

These amendments reduce disadvantages faced by Subclass188 visa holders and former visa holders, and Subclass 888 visa applicants, who are negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, helping to ensure that Australia remains competitive in the international market when attracting business and migrants of high economic value.

These amendments positively engage the right to work to the extent that they provide access to an additional visa extension for Subclass 188 visas in the Business Innovation Extension stream for business owners whose business has been negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic impact, enabling those business owners to continue working.

  • The amendments made for SC 888 apply in relation to a valid visa application made on or after 19 September 2020.
  • Changes ensure that a holder of a Subclass 188 visa in the Significant Investor stream or the Significant Investor Extension stream, that was granted before 1 July 2019, who withdraws or cancels part of an investment in accordance with the amendments to regulation 5.19C, is not thereby in breach of visa condition 8557 (which requires the visa holder to continue to hold a significant complying investment for the full visa period, if they withdraw or cancel investments as permitted).

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