Australia has had provisions for entrepreneurs to migrate since 1976 and introduced a business migration scheme since for those investing at least A$500,000 in 1982. Program types have varied greatly over the years, and often factors such as age, language skills, and business background are taken into consideration, and consequently they may not be defined as traditional investor immigration programs.

In May 2012, the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship announced the introduction of the Significant Investor Visa, which was later opened in November 2012. This scheme represents a more traditional investor immigration program, with clear requirements and investment thresholds. Under the program, immigrant investors are required to invest A$5 million in complying investments for a minimum of four years.

From its inception in November 2012 through to the end of March 2015, 751 primary visas have been granted under the Significant Investor program, more than 88% of which were to Chinese citizens.

In April 2015, the Significant Investor Visa program was briefly suspended in order to create a new framework to reduce indirect investment in real estate and cool the property market. The program later reopened with new requirements: investors must now invest A$500,000 of the A$5 million total in venture capital or growth private equity funds, and A$1.5 million in ASX-listed small companies.