ACT Skilled Migration Program – Small Business Owner – a Pathway to 491/190 Visa

Canberra is one of the most beautiful and the largest inland cities in Australia. It is known for its incredibly amazing art scenes, business opportunities, excellent education, exceptional living arrangements, and so on. Many international students and migrants move to Canberra – ACT and live a happy and contented life. 

Recently, the Australian Government has directed many changes to Australian Migration Programs (2021-2022) in all the major states. In ACT – Canberra, the government has specifically instructed to nominate highly qualified applicants who can help the state to recover from the COVID-19 economic disaster. So, following the instructions, ACT-Canberra has introduced a new stream under their Skilled Migration Program known as Small Business Owner (SBO) stream which is a direct pathway to 491 Visa and may lead to Australian permanent residency. 

Who can apply under this stream? 

This is a piece of good news for all those applicants who cannot meet certain requirements of some states such as job offers, work experience, and occupations. But they wish to migrate to Australia and run a successful business – they may consider applying to the Small Business Ownership pathway to get Australian PR. Until now, only Tasmania, Queensland and ACT are the three states which offer skilled migration opportunities to small business owners. It is also important to note that if you have a partner and children who are staying in other states, you may not be eligible for ACT nomination. 


What type of businesses can apply for this stream?

Either you can buy an existing business that must have AUD 200,000 (or pro-rata) annual turnover or establish a new business, however, this new business must be actively trading in Canberra for at least 6 months.

You must hold 51% ownership of the nominated registered business and you must be receiving at least AUD 26,000 for six months under 190 visa nomination AUD 13,000 for three months under 491 nominations immediately before the date of Matrix submission. 

Similarly, your business must recruit a minimum of one employee (20 hrs per week) who should be an Australian citizen, permanent resident, or New Zealand citizen for at least 13 weeks. It is not mandatory to have this employment as continuous; however, it should be in accordance with Australian legislation and you must provide a statutory declaration confirming the employment and citizenship details for each employee.

Some of the ineligible businesses include Sub-tenancy, Ride-share, taxi, Courier Services, or a business that has been used to qualify for the ACT SBO stream previously. 


Eligibility Criteria: 

Like other streams in the Skilled Migration program, the applicant must claim points in the Small Business Owner category in the ACT-Canberra Matrix system. Other mandatory requirements are:

You must be living in Canberra for the last 3months if you are applying for a 491 visa. You must be living in Canberra for the last 6 months if you are applying for a 190 visa. 

You must provide a ‘proficient’ or ‘superior’ level of English language unless you have nominated occupation in ANZSCO skill level 3-5. 

You must commit to live and work in Canberra while your visa is processed. Once the visa is granted, you must continue living and working in Canberra for at least 2 more years. 

If you wish to claim Matrix points for a spouse/partner, you must have proof of the relationship. 

To claim Matrix points in the spouse/partner employment category, your spouse/partner must have ‘competent’ English; or hold an Australian passport.

For a 491 visa, your spouse/partner must be residing in Canberra for the last 3 months or overseas. For a 190 visa, your spouse/partner must be residing in Canberra for the last 6 months or overseas. 

You MUST sign a statutory declaration confirming the details of your ACT Small Business activity.


How to apply? 

  1. Collect all the original and legal supporting documents. Make sure you attach all the relevant documents because the ACT-Canberra government won’t accept any additional documents or contact you for additional information.  
  2. Check your business eligibility under the ACT-Canberra Small Business Ownership Stream.
  3. Submit your Canberra Matrix to check your matrix points. 
  4. After receiving the invitation, apply for ACT nomination. It will cost AUD 300 and must be submitted within 14days. 
  5. If invited by ACT, apply for your visa (491/190) with the Department of Home Affairs within 60days. 

It is important to note that ACT – Canberra gives only one nomination per person so try completing your Matrix and nomination applications carefully. Once the matrix is submitted, you will not be able to withdraw or edit the application. For SBO, the highest-ranked Matrix will be invited to apply for ACT 491 /190 nomination, however, the cut-off for selection will depend on demand. 


Key Documents Checklist:

Some of the supporting documents you can attach with your online application are:

  1. Statutory Declaration
  2. ASIC Current and Historical Australian Registered Body Extract
  3. Evidence of majority business ownership
  4. ACT business activity such as BAS, evidence of taxable income
  5. Employee Information
  6. Proof of English language abilities 
  7. Spouse/partner identity documents (if applicable)
  8. The employment history of spouse/partner (if applicable) 
  9. Proof of relationship 
  10. Current visa copy
  11. Financial capacity
  12. Academic documents 
  13. Period of the completed ACT study
  14. Close family members living in Canberra
  15. ACT assets