Business skills visa applications – the latest statistics

Go Matilda Visas has obtained the latest numbers of subclass 188 provisional business skills visa applications that are in progress and awaiting a decision.

Business skills visas are subdivided into streams:

  • Business Innovation
  • Investor
  • Significant Investor
  • Premium Investor
  • Entrepreneur

Most applications for subclass 188 visas are made under the Business Innovation stream.  

This is the pathway for successful business owners who want to migrate to Australia.

Such applicants are required to set up or acquire a business in Australia and to operate that business for at least two years before they can apply for permanent residency in Australia, with a record of compliance with Australia’s tax regulations.

The statistics we have obtained from the Department of Home Affairs following a Freedom of Information request indicate almost 14,000 applications for subclass 188 visas under the Business Innovation stream.

See the table via the web link below for the details we have obtained.

While some of these applications will be secondary applicants (spouse/partner/dependent children) there is clearly a backlog of applications.

Disappointingly the Federal Government has advised that only 1,900 places are available to business skills visa applicants for the program year ended 30 June 2024.

This is a reduction from 5,000 in the program year to 30 June 2023.

With a total number of applicants for business skills visas of nearly 20,000 if the program number is maintained the business skills visa backlog will take some 10 years to clear.

Business skills visa applications – on hand up to 31 July 2023 – at 18 September 2023

Business Visas Given Priority in Australia’s 2020 Budget

The Australian Government has announced a significant increase in the number of visas available to business owners and investors who want to move to Australia.

Each year at the time of the Federal Budget the Australian Government announces details of the ceiling on the number of visas it will make available for the forthcoming year to 30th June.

Due to COVID-19 this year’s Federal Budget was delayed from May 2020 until this week.

While the ceiling on visa numbers remains at 160,000 the composition of the migration program between visa types for 2020/21 has changed quite markedly compared to the previous year.

In particular there is a significant increase in the number of visas available under Australia’s Business Innovation and Investment Program (BIIP), which includes visa subclass 188.

For the year to 30 June 2021 the total number of visas available under the BIIP will be 13,500.

This should be compared with the program year to 30 June 2020 where the total number of visas granted under the BIIP was 4,420 (the planning level for last year was 6,862; the number of visas granted was restricted due to COVID).

While there continues to be a backlog of applicants for business innovation and investment visas it is clear that the Australian Government sees this area as being key to a successful exit from COVID, including the rebuilding of employment opportunities and the nation’s finances.

If you are a business owner or investor, believe you can meet the threshold requirements for a subclass 188 visa, and want to move to Australia please feel able to complete the enquiry form on this web page.

We can then have a free no obligation chat with you to discuss your situation in more detail, and how we might help.

Our Managing Director is a registered migration agent, and is a qualified Chartered Accountant in the UK and in Australia, so is ideally placed to discuss your visa strategy and tax planning associated with a move to Australia.


NSW Sponsorship – Venture Capital Entrepreneur Visa – Subclass 132B

In our earlier post we discussed the Department of Immigration’s requirements for the granting of a permanent residency visa under subclass 132B.

To recap, this is a visa pathway for those who have obtained at least A$1 million in funding from an AVCAL approved Australian Venture Capital firm.

Sponsorship (also known as a nomination) is required by a State Government to obtain a visa under this subclass.

If the applicant intends to establish a business in NSW an application for sponsorship is made to the NSW Government.

In addition to the Department of Immigration requirements, the NSW Government requires that applicants have a business plan for a complying entrepreneur activity that demonstrates that the activity that is to be undertaken in NSW:

  • Proves a commitment to maintaining an ongoing relationship with NSW, and
  • Is proposed to lead to the development of an enterprise or business in NSW, or the commercialisation of a product or service in NSW.

The NSW Government advises a priority processing time of five (5) business days for Business Talent visa nomination applications, so long as the application documentation is complete.

Visa subclass 132B – Australia’s Venture Capital Entrepreneur stream

The Venture Capital entrepreneur stream (subclass 132B) of the Business Talent visa provides direct permanent entry to Australia for migrant entrepreneurs who have successfully sourced venture capital funding through a Venture Capital member of the Australian Private Equity and Venture Capital Association Limited (AVCAL).

This is a permanent residency visa, allowing the main visa applicant together with a spouse or partner and children to live and work or study in Australia.

Visa holders can enrol in Medicare, and are able to buy property in Australia without the need for approval from the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB).

Applicants do not have to be aged under 55 years, and there is no English language requirement to  be satisfied to be granted this visa.

There is no requirement to live in Australia before this visa is granted.

To be eligible for this visa:

  • Applicants must have received at least AUD1 million in funding from an Australian venture capital firm.
  • The funding must be for the start-up, product commercialisation or business development of a promising high-value business idea.
  • The venture capital firm must be a member of AVCAL.
  • The visa applicant must have entered into a formal agreement with the venture capital firm for the funding.

Importantly, this is a permanent residency visa.

This means that the holder of such a visa is able to remain in Australia indefinitely, and to travel to and from Australia for 5 years following the granting of the visa.

After those 5 years a subclass 132B visa holder will apply for a Resident Return visa if s/he wants to have a facility to travel to Australia from overseas.

Visa applicants must have entered into a legally enforceable agreement with an Australian company to receive venture capital funding of at least AUD1 million for one of the following purposes:

  • Early phase start up of a business
  • Commercialisation of a product
  • The development of a business
  • The expansion of a business

Ideally, visa applicants should have appropriate background in the area in which VC funding is sought – this can be evidenced through tertiary qualifications, business ownership, and/or patents for an invention held in other countries.

Visa applicants must also satisfy the Department of Immigration that they genuinely have a realistic commitment to either:

  • Establish an eligible business in Australia or
  • Participate in an existing eligible business in Australia


  • Maintain a substantial ownership interest in that eligible business, and
  • Maintain direct and continuous involvement in that business.

Importantly from a visa risk management perspective, Venture Capital Entrepreneur visa holders are not subject to Business Skills post-arrival monitoring.

Sponsorship from a State Government is required when applying for this visa.

In other words the process when applying for a subclass 132B visa is:

  • Enter into an agreement with a Venture Capital firm for funding of at least AUD1 million.
  • Submit an Expression of Interest for a subclass 132 visa with the Department of Immigration.
  • Obtain sponsorship from a State Government in Australia.
  • Accept the resulting invitation issued by the Department of Immigration.
  • Submit the required documentation to the Department of Immigration.
  • Visa granted.

Go Matilda Business Visas is working with approved Venture Capital firms in Australia that can provide funding, and the required Agreement for the purpose of the visa application.

We can also assist with all other stages in the visa application process discussed above.

Please complete the enquiry form on this web page or telephone us if you would like to discuss your situation and require further information.

Visa Subclass 188A – Business Innovation Stream Applicants – Extending Your Stay in Australia

The subclass 188 Business Innovation Extension stream is an option for subclass 188 Business Innovation stream visa holders who have an ownership interest in a business in Australia, and who have not yet managed to reach the required financial thresholds for the granting of a subclass 888 permanent residency visa.

To be eligible for an extension of the subclass 188 visa an interest in a business in Australia must have been in place for at least 2 years, and the visa holder must be the holder of a subclass 188 visa that was granted under the Business Innovation stream.

Documents to be submitted to the Department of Immigration are similar to those required for a permanent residency visa application under the Business Innovation stream of subclass 888, and include:

  • Confirmation of the ownership interest in an Australian business for at least 2 years
  • Evidence of participation in the day to day management of the business for at least the two years immediately before the visa application is submitted to the Department of Immigration.

Only one extension of the 188 visa is permitted for those seeking permanent residency under the Business Innovation stream of subclass 888, and if granted the total period the visa holder is permitted to stay in Australia will be extended to 6 years from the date the initial subclass 188 visa is granted.

Please feel able to contact Go Matilda Business Visas if you have a subclass 188 visa and would like to discuss your visa strategy from where you are now.