More and more often we see examples of entrepreneurs who decide to set up a new business in a foreign country. Australia is a very attractive destination in this sense, as the Australian government has a very open policy towards foreign investors. Nevertheless, if you want to start a new company in Australia as a non-citizen, you will have to bear in mind a series of administrative formalities, the most important one of them being applying for an Australia visa. 

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The process of starting a new business is never an easy one. It involves planning and research, taking financial decisions, as well as bearing in mind a series of legal requirements. If you have the intention to begin a commercial activity in Australia, and you are not an Australian citizen or permanent resident, you must familiarize yourself with the Australian visa policy. The country down under offers many types of visas, and even many types of business visas. As an example, the popular e-visitor visa Australia is sometimes considered as a business visa, since it allows certain business activities, like attending professional meetings or signing business agreements. However, it is not appropriate for someone who wants to set up a business and carry out a professional activity in the country. 

If you have the intention to start and run a business in Australia, the first you have to do is apply for a visa to work in Australia. As previously mentioned, the country offers different kinds of work and business visas. Consequently, it might be difficult to figure out what kind of visa you need, and how you can obtain it. 

One thing you should bear in mind is that you cannot apply directly for your business visa: you must first be invited by a state or territory government. This is the process you should follow:

  1. Submit an expression of interest. You can do this online, via SkillSelect, the Department of Home Affairs online service.
  2. Contact a state or territory government, or the CEO of Austrade and ask them for an invitation to apply for a visa.
  3. If you meet the necessary requirements, you may receive an invitation which will allow you to apply for a visa. Bear in mind that you will need to provide a series of documents to support your request.
Closeup of business woman hand typing on laptop keyboard
Closeup of business woman hand typing on laptop keyboard

Different types of business visas

Once you are allowed to apply for your business visa, you should consider what type of visa is better suited for your situation. The list of working and skilled visas for Australia is long, but the following are the most applied for visas by non-Australians who want to set up a business in the country:

  1. Business Innovation and Investment visa (Subclass 188)

The Business Innovation and Investment visa (subclass 188) is a provisional visa. It is addressed to entrepreneurs with business skills and allows you to run a new or an already existing business. It is valid for 4 years and 3 months, but holders can apply for the permanent version of this visa (the Business Innovation and Investment visa (subclass 888) as soon as certain requirements are met.

  1. Business Talent visas

This is a permanent visa and it is addressed to entrepreneurs who have been nominated by a state or territory government agency,  have been invited to apply for the visa, and most importantly, have the necessary financial resources to start an activity. There are two types of Business Talent visas:

  • Significant Business History Stream, for experienced business owners who want to run a new or existing business in Australia. Candidates must have a minimum net value of AUD 1.5 million and a minimum annual business turnover of AUD 3 million.
  • Venture Capital Entrepreneur Stream. This type of visa is addressed to entrepreneurs who have obtained venture capital financing from a member of the AIC (Australian Investment Council). An important requirement is that the candidate must have a minimum venture capital funding of AUD 1 million to develop the business idea. 

Once you have obtained your visa

Obtaining your business visa is only the first step. But it is an important one. After that, you will have to go through another series of milestones, like registering your business, obtaining your tax IDs, or applying for licenses and permits. 

Starting a business in a different country is a great project. Before embarking on such an adventure, you might have to visit the country a couple of times. Luckily, for a simple business trip, you don’t need to go through a lot paperwork. You can simply apply online for an e-visitor visa. After filling in your application form, your visa request will be sent to the Australian authorities, and you will receive your Australia visa in just a few hours.