Legal Requirements, Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) and Immigration
All Australian states, territories and jurisdictions have their own system of courts and parliaments. The systems of laws in each state are influential on each other, but not binding. Laws passed by the Parliament of Australia apply to the whole of Australia. The organised system of law and government in Australia is historically dependent for its legal validity on a series of British statutes, notably including the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act 1900.
Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB)
All levels of government – national, state, and local (Brisbane City) – welcome foreign investment. The Federal Government reviews foreign investment proposals against the national interest case-by-case. This flexible approach is preferred to hard and fast rules and is managed through the FIRB.
The FIRB examines proposals by foreign persons to invest in Australia and makes recommendations to the Federal Government on those proposals. The Federal Government minister responsible for foreign investment decisions is the Australian Treasurer.
FIRB’s function is advisory only. Responsibility for making decisions on the policy and proposals rests with the Treasurer. The Treasury's Foreign Investment and Trade Policy Division provides secretariat services to FIRB and is responsible for the day-to-day administration of the arrangements.
The role of FIRB, including through its secretariat, is to:
- Examine proposed investments in Australia that are subject to the policy, the Foreign Acquisitions and Takeovers Act 1975 (the Act) and supporting legislation, and to make recommendations to the Treasurer and other Treasury portfolio ministers on these proposals.
- Advise the Treasurer on the operation of the policy and the Act.
- Foster awareness and understanding, both in Australia and abroad, of the policy and the Act.
- Provide guidance to foreign persons and their representatives or agents on the policy and the Act.
- Monitor and ensure compliance with the policy and the Act.
- Provide advice to the Treasurer on the policy and related matters.
The government also recognises community concerns about foreign ownership of certain Australian assets. A review system is in place to allow the government to consider these concerns when assessing Australia’s national interest, through the national interest test which considers the importance of Australia’s market-based system, where companies are responsive to shareholders and where investment and sales decisions are driven by market forces rather than external strategic or non-commercial considerations.
Australia’s Foreign Investment Policy provides guidance to foreign investors to assist with understanding of the Federal Government’s approach to administering the Act. The policy also identifies investment categories that need to be notified to the government for prior approval, even if the Act does not appear to apply.
Australia is a great place to do business. People wanting to start a business or invest in Australia can do so with the right visa.
To learn how businesses, employers, organisations, merchants and other professional clients can hire legal workers, obtain an APEC travel card, sponsor or nominate foreign workers, and what the visa options are, please visit the Australian Government Immigration website.
Significant Investor Visa
The Significant Investor Visa has been introduced as a new stream within the Business Innovation and Investment (Provisional) (Subclass 188) Visa and the Business Innovation and Investment (Permanent) (Subclass 888) Visa.
The purpose of the visa is to provide a boost to the Australian economy and to compete effectively for high net worth individuals seeking investment migration. Migrant investors will be required to invest $5 million into complying investments for a minimum of four years before being eligible to apply for a permanent visa.
To discover more information on the Significant Investor Visa, please visit the Australian Government Immigration website.