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With borders being restricted for the past 2 years due to Covid, there has been a decline in the number of temporary visas being issued. As of October 31, 2021 there are 1.6 million temporary visa holders in Australia, this is down from pre-covid numbers of 2.3 million.

Of these, around 655,000 are New Zealand citizens on special category visas. The next major group is people on bridging visas at 338,674. The other major categories of temporary visas include Students (308,812), Temporary Skilled (94,713) and Temporary Graduates (91,607). 

Transitioning to permanent residency is the desire of many people currently within Australia. Once students graduate from colleges and universities they have the option of transitioning onto a skilled migrant visa which can involve working within their profession or through business options, such as buying a business. 

“I have just finished my masters in accounting. It’s hard to find a full-time position to get my 491 (visa) so I’m moving to Canberra in the new year and will buy a business” Haroon R.

Australia has a skilled migration program that aims to support and encourage professionals to continue to work and stay in Australia.  

“The Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) (subclass 491) visa allows points-tested skilled workers and their families to live, study and work in designated regional areas for a period of 5 years. If you are granted a Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) (subclass 491) visa, you may be eligible to apply for the Permanent Residence (Skilled Regional) (subclass 191) visa, which provides permanent residence and the right to live and work anywhere in Australia.” Visa Envoy

The 491 Skilled Work Regional Visa has a small business owner scheme. We take a look at 3 states currently offering the SBO pathway.

Buy a Business in the ACT with a $200,000 Turnover

The small business owner scheme has made it easier for people to buy a business and continue on the path of migration. You must be living in the ACT for the last 3 months before being eligible and be committed to staying in the ACT for at least 2 years from the date the visa is granted. 

To be part of the Small Business Owner pathway of the 491 Visa in the ACT, you must demonstrate the following:

  • Own at least 51% of an eligible registered business located in the ACT

  • Your business must have a minimum turnover of AUD $200,000 per annum (or pro-rata).

  • The business must have actively traded in Canberra for at least 6 months from the date established or purchased.

  • Your business must be profitable

  • Your business must be paying you the following salary:

    • 190 nomination: at least $26,000 for six months.

    • 491 nomination: at least $13,000 for three months.

  • You must employ at least one Australian citizen, permanent resident or New Zealand citizen for at least 13 weeks (minimum 20 hrs pw).

  • You must be able to claim Canberra Matrix points in the Small Business Owner Category.

  • Your spouse or partner must be a resident in Canberra for the last 3 months, or living overseas

When buying a business it’s important you are aware of the criteria and options – you don’t want to purchase a business only to find out you’re not eligible for the Small Business Owner (SBO) scheme. The following businesses are not eligible:  sub-tenancy, ride-share, taxi, delivery, courier services or an on-sold business previously used to qualify for ACT nomination. 

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