Opinion: Supporting innovation and entrepreneurship through visas

by External08 Dec 2015
Sarah Thapa outlines how Australia's immigration system might help facilitate the Prime Minister's Innovation and Science Agenda and explains what it means for business.

The Prime Minister’s Innovation and Science Agenda announced yesterday places innovation squarely at the top of the national agenda. One of the Government's strategic priorities is to attract the “best and brightest” entrepreneurial skills and talent into Australia.

Australia's immigration system will need to be improved to support this initiative.

What is changing?
1.  A new Entrepreneur Visa
This is a temporary business visa for entrepreneurs with innovative ideas and financial backing.

Level of financial backing, sources of funding, business education and skills of the entrepreneur, and innovative, high-growth potential ideas are key issues to be considered when developing the visa program.

2.  Enhanced permanent residence pathways for postgraduate research graduates with STEM and ICT qualifications.
Interesting for employers, this change will provide greater access to graduates with postgraduate research qualifications in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and specified ICT or related fields.

Graduates of Australian universities with qualifications in these fields will receive extra points under the points-tested Skilled Migration program to qualify for a permanent work visa. The Graduates who may otherwise have lacked sufficient work experience access a 457 sponsored work visa or independent permanent work visa will now qualify for a skilled work visa.

What do the changes mean?
The new Entrepreneurship Visas is something that a number of other countries have used very successfully, including the US and UK. These changes have therefore been warmly welcomed by the start-up and innovation industry[1].

The improvements to retain STEM and ICT graduates students in Australia are important to help prevent the loss of Australian educational assets from Australia to overseas.  These people are already familiar with Australian society and business culture. The change will help the economy convert Australian education and research into innovation and employers can derive the commercial success.

One of the key challenges for businesses is finding skilled workers and technical resources. The 457 visa program will continue to support businesses where sought-after skills are not available directly from the education system of Australia.

When will the changes occur?
The Entrepreneur Visa will be introduced in November 2016, and the enhanced permanent visa pathway for STEM postgraduate research graduates will be implemented in December 2016.

View the video clip below for further information on what these changes mean for business.

About the author
Sarah Thapa is the managing director of The Migration Agency. Contact info@themigrationagency.com.au  for more information. The Migration Agency specialises in visas and immigration for employers and their employees.  We have helped business from start-ups to large corporates access international talent through sponsorship with resources, case management and compliance programs.