If you are an overseas buyer of real estate in Australia there are FIRB limitations on what you can purchase. Find out more about the issues you will face.

FIRB change for foreign buyers

 New Laws for Temporary Residents

457 visa
On 1 July 2016 the laws were tightened by the Federal Government. It is now more difficult and very expensive for temporary residents to purchase both new & established real estate in Australia, even if intended as their principal place of residence. Read more

Significant Investor Visa

The New South Wales Government welcomes applicants for the 188 and 888 Significant Investor Visa program. Applications are welcome from 24 November 2012.

The Significant Investor visa is a new stream of the Business Innovation and Investment (Provisional subclass 188) and the Business Innovation and Investment (Permanent subclass 888) visa.

Visa applicants must:

  • Be nominated by a state or territory government
  • make an investment of at least $5 million into complying investments.

Applicants for this visa subclass do not need to meet the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) points test. The visa does not have any upper age limits or English language requirements.

Complying investments

Complying investments for the Significant Investor visa include:

  • Commonwealth, state or territory government bonds
  • Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) regulated managed funds with a mandate for investing in Australia; and
  • Direct investment into Australian proprietary companies. The enterprise must be operated for the purpose of making profit through the provision of goods, services or goods and services, with the exception being the provision of rental property, to the public. The company must not be operated primarily or substantially for the purpose of speculative or passive investment.

To be eligible for NSW nomination, applicants must invest at least 30% or $1.5 million of the $5 Million into NSW Waratah Bonds.

Information about NSW Waratah Bonds for Significant Investors is available here.

Processing times

Applicants can expect their applications for NSW Government nomination to be processed in 5 working days. The nomination is then processed by the Commonwealth Government.

Business Innovation and Investment (Provisional) Significant Investor Visa 188

To qualify for NSW nomination under the Business Innovation and Investment (Provisional) Significant Investor Visa 188, applicants must:

  • Demonstrate that they have at least A$ 5 million in assets that are unencumbered and lawfully acquired and readily available for transfer to Australia
  • Sign a declaration that they will invest at least A$5 million in complying investments including a minimum of A$ 1.5 million in NSW Waratah Bonds. To gain nomination, the NSW Government requires evidence that the applicant will invest in NSW Waratah Bonds; and
  • Commit to spending at least a total of 160 days in Australia for the duration of the Provisional Visa. The applicant will need to nominate that they intend to live in NSW.

Residency requirements

To fulfil the residence requirements of the Provisional Business Innovation & Investment Visa (188) and subsequently to be eligible to apply for a permanent Significant Investor visa, applicants must reside a minimum of 160 days in Australia over 4 years. This requirement can be met in any year.

As applicants will need to be nominated by the NSW Government to apply for a Significant Investor Visa, there is an expectation of NSW Trade & Investment and the NSW Government that the applicant has a genuine intention to reside here.

If an applicant chooses to extend their provisional visa, additional time spent in Australia is required. Applicants can only extend their provisional visa twice, by two years each time. Therefore, if an applicant nominated by the NSW Government chooses to extend their provisional visa once, they will be required to reside in NSW for 240 days over 6 years; if they choose to extend their visa twice, they will need to reside 320 days in NSW over 8 years.

Business Innovation and Investment (Permanent) Significant Investor Visa 888

To qualify for NSW nomination under the Business Innovation and Investment (Permanent) Significant Investor Visa 888, applicants must:

  • Demonstrate that they have invested at least A$5 million in Australia including at least A$1.5 million in NSW Waratah Bonds in the last four years.
  • have spent at least 160 days in Australia (not limited to NSW) while holding a subclass 188 (Provisional) visa in the last four years immediately before your application for NSW nomination
  • Demonstrate that neither they or their spouse have had any involvement in business or investment activities that are of a nature that is not generally acceptable in Australia.

How To apply

Applying for NSW Government nomination is simple. To apply for NSW nomination you must:

  • Complete the State Nomination Application Form for Significant Investor (Provisional) Visa subclass 188 which details the applicant’s:
    • Name, date of birth and country of origin
    • contact details
    • passport and visa details (where applicable)
    • proposed investment/s detail
  • attach supporting documents; including:
    • Passport
    • Birth Certificate
    • Marriage Certificate
    • Commitment to invest in NSW
    • Evidence of funds
  • pay the application fee ($820 for offshore applicants)