The current Business Skills visa program was introduced in March 2003 and aims to attract skilled and experienced business owners, senior executives and investors to migrate to Australia to enter into business or investment activity.
Business Skills is a niche category within Australia’s skilled migration program distinct from general skilled migration and the employer sponsored visa categories in that it directly creates business, and visa holders become business owners, rather than supporting existing businesses with a supply of skilled employees.
Small business forms a vital part of the Australian economy. The sector represents 96 per cent of all Australian businesses and accounts for 48 per cent of all private sector employment. 
The objectives of the Business Skills program are to contribute to the growth of the Australian economy by:
- generating employment
- increasing the export of Australian goods and services
- increasing the production of goods and services inAustralia
- introducing new or improved technology
- increasing competition and commercial activity
- developing links with international markets
- increasing the dispersal of business migrants across Australia through State and Territory Government sponsorship.
The program is largely a two-stage process whereby migrants enter Australia initially on a provisional (temporary) visa, generally valid for a period of four years. Once a provisional visa holder is able to demonstrate satisfactory evidence of a specified level of business or investment activity, they may apply for permanent residence.
The program currently consists of 13 visa subclasses, six being provisional visas and the other seven being permanent. The program caters for business people migrating independently, or with sponsorship from a State or Territory Government.
The department is in the final stages of a comprehensive review of the Business Skills visa program to determine whether the program is meeting its intended objectives and if any adjustments are necessary.