Eligible investment and qualifying business criteria for 188 visa

Update: State requirements for Business visas

The 188 visa requires the applicant to

  • have had a total of at least 3 years’ experience of direct involvement in managing one or more qualifying businesses or eligible investments.
  • requires the applicant and/or their spouse or de‑facto partner to have net assets of at least AUD2,250,000. These net assets may include, but are not limited to, eligible investment asset. Here are some examples of the assests that could be included in the AU 2.25 Million:

Ownership

For the purposes of 188 visa the applicant must own the eligible investment. An investment asset may be owned or partly‑owned by the applicant and/or their spouse or de‑facto partner. However, if an asset is only partly‑owned, only that portion owned by the applicant and/or their spouse or de‑facto partner may be included in the calculations.

 Purpose of the investment

An eligible investment asset is, among other requirements, limited to being an asset owned ‘for the purpose of generating a return by way of income or through capital appreciation’. Returns may take the form of, but are not limited to, interest, royalties, dividends or rental, as well as capital appreciation. It follows that assets held for personal use – for example, the family home are excluded.

Net value only

Consideration of any eligible investment is limited to its net value. The value of any loans the applicant and/or their spouse or de‑facto partner have taken out in order to finance the purchase of an eligible investment asset must be deducted from the total value.

Loans to a business

Loans listed in the balance sheet of a business will evidence the value and ownership of the loan. If the balance sheet or notes to the account do not specify the name of the lender, the applicant should provide additional supporting evidence – for example, loan documents. Only loans to a business appearing in a balance sheet are acceptable.

Non-performing loans are an investment made available through the PRC’s banking system where debt was accumulated as a result of allocating bank loans to finance inefficient state‑owned enterprises. Subsequent bank reform saw the creation of management companies, which since 2001 have bought the bad loans from the PRC’s four largest banks at book value and then auctioned them off to interested investors, largely domestic but also foreign concerns. This investment can be evidenced through loan documentation.

Cash on deposit

This is cash held in banks and other financial institutions. It should be evidenced by bank (or other financial institution) accounts or statements as at the end of the fiscal year. If there is more than one account involved, the balances should be taken as at the end of the fiscal year.

Most cash accounts may be expected to earn interest (that is, produce a return). Although it is not considered necessary for officers to attempt to distinguish between accounts held primarily for personal use and those held primarily for investment purposes, accounts (such as cheque accounts) earning little or no interest (after charges are deducted) should not be included.

Hedged funds allow investors to purchase liquid instruments, such as currency and interest rate derivatives, with the aim of making profits from movements in foreign exchange or bond markets. These funds can be evidenced by transfer documentation.

Stocks and bonds

Ownership of stocks and bonds may be evidenced, for example, by share scripts, bond certificates, debentures or transfer documentation. The market value of stocks and bonds is evidenced by the applicant using published financial information at the end of the fiscal year.

Warrants are securities that offer the owner the right to subscribe for the ordinary shares of a company at a fixed date and usually at a fixed price. Warrants are bought and sold on stock exchanges and are equivalent to stock options. Warrants can be evidenced by transfer documentation.

Managed funds

Managed fund products that primarily hold stock and bond investments are acceptable provided the applicant can demonstrate they have made an informed decision on which fund to invest in and are not relying on a broker/financial adviser to make the investment decision. An applicant who has most of their eligible investment funds in these types of funds must still be able to demonstrate a high level of management skill in managing their portfolio.

Real estate

Ownership of real estate is evidenced through legally recognised title deeds. The value of real estate can be determined through property valuations prepared by a licensed or registered valuer as at the end of the relevant fiscal year.

The applicant’s personal residence cannot be included except in very limited circumstances

Residential property

Under policy, a family home is considered to be an asset owned for personal use and is incapable (by definition) of being an eligible investment.

Situations may arise where an applicant claims that the family home is also used as an investment property. For example, the property, although owned by the applicant, may currently be leased out to a third party (including a relative). However, it is policy in such cases that, in order for that property to be considered an eligible investment, the applicant must also own (not rent) the residential property in which they are currently living.

This may be evidenced by, but not limited to evidence of:

  • ownership through title deeds and
  • occupancy through accounts (for example, electricity bills) in the name of the applicant (or applicant and spouse or de‑facto partner together).

A family home, while not usually an eligible investment asset (except for the circumstances described above), may still be capable of being a personal asset for 188 visa purposes.

Gold and silver bullion

Applicants should provide receipts evidencing purchase from a bank or bullion dealer.

The value of bullion is established by the applicant presenting a current certificate of valuation as at the end of the relevant fiscal year. Valuations based solely on market values published daily in the press would not be accepted, as these do not take into account the quality of the bullion.

Superannuation

In practice, superannuation schemes are excluded from consideration as eligible investments. Superannuation schemes are generally not managed directly by the applicant and therefore cannot be take into account for 188 purposes. This includes superannuation schemes that allow flexibility for investors to move funds between different types of investments within the fund. Superannuation schemes allowing access to a portion of the lodged moneys may, however, still be capable of being personal assets for 188 purposes.

Self-managed superannuation schemes can be included as an eligible investment if the fund is directly managed by the applicant. A self‑managed fund generally has four or fewer members, each member is a trustee and no trustee receives any remuneration for their services. Applicants should provide the contract, evidence of directly managing the fund and include details of the fund setup.

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