Calling all entrepreneurs…new visa (and maybe even visas) announced!

As the government promotes its Innovation and Science Agenda, which was formally launched yesterday with Prime Minister Turnbull’s Innovation Statement, many government portfolios will be tweaked to support the aim of closer collaboration between the business community, and research and scientific institutions.

One portfolio that will be affected is Immigration with the Minister, Peter Dutton, announcing yesterday that there will be a new Entrepreneur Visa to attract overseas nationals with innovative talent to Australia.

Not much is known about the specific requirements for this visa. The media release simply states that it “will be available for emerging entrepreneurs with innovative ideas and financial backing to develop their ideas in Australia.”

In addition to this, there will be a pathway to a permanent visa introduced to retain recent graduates from Australian institutions studying STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics and some specific IT) fields at a doctorate or masters-by-research educational level. Whether this is part of the Entrepreneur Visa, a new subclass in itself, or an amendment to an existing visa subclass is not known.

In a separate media release from the Australian government, the Entrepreneur Visa is expected to be implemented in November 2016 while the pathway to the permanent residence as described above will be available in December 2016.

The impression received from the media release is that this, or these, visa(s) will straddle the General Skilled Migration and Business Innovation and Investment visa programmes. There may be a hint of irony about the Business Innovation and Investment programme when a new visa is announced for the purpose of encouraging innovation in Australia. In fact, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection recently conceded in a submission on a review of the Business programme tabled in March this year that certain provisional business visas “may have stifled risk-taking and innovation as migrants would act conservatively to secure permanent visas.”

Time will tell whether the addition of the Entrepreneur Visa will be able to overcome such problems, and achieve its objectives.