Many business owners often ask if they are able to sell their business to a migrant. To answer simply, yes, you can. However, ownership of an Australian business will not automatically entitle the potential business purchaser to a visa. There is more to visa eligibility than just business ownership – the key is to demonstrate business acumen and an overall successful business career.

The most common visa for potential migrants looking to purchase an Australian business would be the Business Innovation and Investment Visa. This comprises of a provisional visa and a permanent visa. The provisional visa allows migrants to either establish a business, or operate an already established business in Australia. The Permanent visa allows the migrant to remain in Australia, provided he or she has maintained ownership of an actively operating Australian business.

THE PROVSIONAL VISA

The Provisional Visa is a temporary visa and permits a migrant to stay a maximum of four years in Australia. Under the provisional visa, the focus is on the migrant, rather than the business itself. If you are the current Australian owner of a business, you need to prove your business is a ‘qualifying business’ – meaning that it is operated to make profit through the provision of goods and services (excluding the provision of good and services (excluding the provisional rental property) and is not used only for the purposes of speculative or passive investment.

The key criteria that must be met for the Provisional visa is:

•  The migrant must demonstrate he or she has a business acumen and experience,

•  A genuine and realistic commitment to establishing a business in Australia

•  Commitment to maintaining direct and continuous day-to-day involvement in an existing business.

Although a specific business plan is not usually required, the migrant will need to demonstrate an understanding of the Australian business environment they would be operating in.

To apply for a Provisional Business Innovation and Investment Visa, migrants must first lodge an online expression of interest and meet a points test. Points are available for a range of criteria including age, English language abilities, educational qualifications, business experience, and net personal and business assets.

The next step is to apply for the visa after an invitation to do so. An invitation will only be received after the potential migrant’s profile is viewed online and he or she is nominated by a State or Territory Government.  The migrant must provide evidence of both assets, business experience and ownership. Ownership in a business with an annual turnover of at least $500,000 in two of the past four fiscal years needs to be shown. Business or personal assets of at least $800,000 also needs to be shown that can be put towards the establishment or conduct of a business in Australia within two years of the grant of the visa.

THE PERMANENT VISA

The Permanent Visa Is granted on the basis of the migrant’s ongoing ownership in an Australian business and commitment to maintain his or her business activities in Australia. The migrant must have held an ownership interest in an Australian business for the two years immediately prior to the application for the permanent visa to be made.

This visa focuses on the performance of the business. For the grant of the Permanent visa, the following aspects of the business can be assessed:

•  The business’ annual turnover

•  How many Australian citizens, permanent residents, or eligible New Zealand residents the business employs;

•  The net value of assets, not only of the business, but also of assets owned personally by the migrant.

If you are interested in setting up or buying an existing business here in Australia, speak to our registered migration agent and accountants here at The Quinn Group. There are a range of things you must consider, including the visa alternatives. Call us today on 02 9223 9166 or submit an online enquiry.