Entrepreneur Visa

A recent article on the InnovationAus.com website identified that the Immigration Minister, Peter Dutton, has unveiled a pilot program for a new ‘entrepreneur visa’ that would let overseas entrepreneurs and investors with an “innovative idea and a supporting business plan” to apply for a temporary visa to build the venture in Australia.

What does the Entrepreneur Visa let you do?

It is intended that under the initiative, which is meant to be piloted in South Australia (before a national roll-out next year) the visa applicants will not require capital backing, which is in direct contrast to the current Entrepreneur Visa, which needs the visa applicants to demonstrate funding of at least $200,000.

The program intends that the visa applicants’ proposals will be vetted by state or federal government entities – or by local incubators and accelerators on their behalf – to identify potential eligible visa applicants for nomination.

Those entrepreneurs who are successful in establishing their business venture in Australia will be expected to become eligible for Permanent Residence in Australia.

Why has this visa been developed?

The Minister for Immigration, Mr Dutton, said that the Turnbull Government is focussed on increasing job opportunities and standards of living for Australians, and therefore this program is intended to foster business growth and investment in Australia.

The program is expected to encourage seed-stage entrepreneurs to take forward innovative ideas in Australia will assist in growing the jobs of the future.

It is more likely that the pilot program has been announced due to the much criticised scrapping of Australia’s 457 visa program last year, which drew huge criticism from the tech innovation sector.

The department’s attempt to replace the 457 visa with two new temporary visas with more stringent requirements, has been met with much mixed feelings from all industry sectors, due to the fact that the “now vanquished” 457 visa was being regularly used by Australian companies to bring temporary skills into the country. It was a very popular visa arrangement among the local Tech and Start-up community.

The new TSS (482) visa comprises of a short-term stream of up to two years and a medium-term stream of up to four years.However, much to the annoyance of the tech and start-up sectors, the short-term visa does not allow for permanent residency – making this an undesirable option for entrepreneurs with long term plans in Australia. The medium-term option allows for up to four years but it is mainly “targeted at higher skills” and the list of eligible occupations is much shorter.

The Department of Immigration at the time said the new TSS visa would allow businesses to “address genuine skill shortages in their workforce and will contain a number of safeguards which prioritise Australian workers”.However, this has done nothing to increase support for this new TSS visa category.

The government is well aware of this and has therefore quickly moved to create a new avenue for the local tech and start up community to access overseas talent.

What are the “entrepreneur visa” requirements?

There are very few details currently available about the new entrepreneur visa, except that we can highlight the following points –

  • All applicants MUST be under 45 years old
  • MUST have vocational level English
  • NO need for any capital outlay (unlike the current Entrepreneur Visa which requires minimum funding of $200,000)

At this stage, this is all that is known about the “new entrepreneur visa” pilot program.

“The devil is in the detail”

It is clear that much of the pilot’s success is riding on the outcome of the South Australia’s state elections.However, we are assured that the visa itself seems likely for national roll-out in 2019 regardless of the election outcome.So, it is coming no matter what!

The more immediate points of concern are that because we do not know enough about this visa it could become “fool’s gold”.Consider these points –

  • What are the skills requirements (if any) for this visa?
  • What permanent residence visa category will this temporary visa be linked to?
  • Will there be options for an onshore extension, should the entrepreneur require more time to complete the “project”?
  • How many extensions will be available?
  • What happens to a visa applicant that has completed their project but is now over the age of 45? Will there be age exemptions?
  • If there are “no capital outlays” – how will the project be funded?
  • Due to the possible high interest in this new visa category – will it be capped?

Clearly the detail is required and we are bound to get more but at this stage I would not be claiming this to be a strong competitor to the similar visa programs available in other countries at this stage.We wait to see.

What to do now?

It is early stages but there are a few things that can be commenced to get you ready for the new Entrepreneur Visa.These are -

  • The first step should be to register your interest with Sellanes Clark and Associates and one of our Associates will be in touch with you to discuss your options;
  • Next to organise an Assessment through Sellanes Clark and Associates to look at your personal situation;
  • Depending on your circumstances, Sellanes Clark and Associates can assist in you to prepare a Business Plan that would be meet the standards of the Department of Home Affairs;

For those applicants that may be in need of further English training, this will be a great opportunity to work on this so they can be ready for when the visa becomes available.

Stay tuned to this blog for further updates on this pilot program.

For more information, contact the migration experts - Sellanes Clark & Associates - specialising in all immigration matters.

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