Expansion of Businesses Requiring FIRB Approval

Expansion of Businesses Requiring FIRB Approval

January 1, 2022
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On 3 December 2021 significant amendments were made which affect foreign business owners in Australia that have applied for or intend to apply for business visas based on starting or acquiring businesses in Australia.

Amendments have been made to the Security of Critical Infrastructure Act 2018 (Cth) (“SOCI Act”) which expanded the types of transactions requiring Foreign Investment Review Board (“FIRB”) approval under the Foreign Acquisitions and Takeovers Act 1975 (Cth) (“FATA”).

More specifically, the SOCI expanded the definition of “critical infrastructure asset” which in turn expanded the definition of “national security business” under the FATA. From 1 January 2022, when the new legislation comes into effect, foreign persons will require FIRB approval before starting or acquiring a 10% or greater interest in, a national security business i.e. an Australian business responsible for critical infrastructure asset.

Previously, critical infrastructure was limited to: electricity, gas, water, and ports.

Following the changes to SOCI Act, this definition has been redefined into the following sectors:

  • Communications;
  • Data storage or processing;
  • Financials services and markets;
  • Water and sewerage;
  • Energy;
  • Health care and medical;
  • Higher education and research;
  • Food and grocery;
  • Transport; and
  • Defence industry.


While the amendments are necessary to expand the sectors deemed critical to our nations operations, it will have far reaching implications for businesses in these sectors who are now considered part of our nation’s critical infrastructure.

If you are applying for a business investment visa in Australia and you are not sure whether these changes affect you, contact Parish Patience Legal & Migration on 02 8297 6700 to book a consultation to discuss your matter.