New business entrepreneur visa available; GSM points for masters by research and doctoral graduates

After a quiet lull in migration law changes, mainly because of the federal election, it seems the government is now in full swing. As part of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s National Innovation and Science Agenda announced last year, new laws have passed to help attract and retain overseas nationals in these fields.

The first is the implementation of an Entrepreneur stream within the existing Business Innovation and Investment Provisional (subclass 188) and Permanent (subclass 888) visas. This adds a fifth stream to the Business Innovation, Investor, Significant Investor, and Premium Investor streams.

So what are the major criteria for budding entrepreneurs? The requirements for the provisional Entrepreneur stream visa are they have not turned 55, which can be waived by the nominating State or Territory government if there will be exceptional economic benefit, they have competent English, the State or Territory government is satisfied they has sufficient net business and personal funds to settle in Australia, and last but certainly not least, will undertake, or propose to undertake, a complying entrepreneurial activity.

The entrepreneurial activity must relate to the commercialisation of a product or service or the development of an enterprise or business in Australia. They will need an adequate business plan to back this up. Currently excluded activities are establishing, purchasing, acquiring, or investing in a labour hire business, residential real estate, or an existing entity such as a franchise. There must be a legally enforceable agreement or agreements with one of a range of entities such as a Commonwealth government agency, State or Territory government, publicly funded research organisation, registered Australian Venture Capital Limited Partnership, or Early Stage Venture Capital Limited Partnership, or one of an approved list of higher education providers for at least AUD 200 000. There are also certain conditions imposed by way of funding being released, and businesses ownership requirements.

Anyone granted the provisional visa will need to have held it for four years, and have resided in Australia for at least two of those years before they can consider applying for the equivalent permanent visa. For that, they will have to have demonstrated an overall successful record of an entrepreneurial nature, taking into consideration the number of Australian citizens or permanent residents employed in Australia, the level and nature of funding, and the annual turnover of the business connected with their entrepreneurial activities.

Of course, there are other less specific requirements that need to be met for these visas.

The other item on the reform agenda relate to new applications for General Skilled Migration visas. These are the points tested Skilled Independent (subclass 189), Skilled Nominated (subclass 190), and Skilled Regional (Provisional) (subclass 489) visas. Those who have been awarded either a masters degree by research or a doctoral degree by an Australian educational institution, and who studied for at least two academic years in a Natural and Physical Science, Information Technology, or Engineering and Related Technologies field will be eligible for an additional 5 points. This will be in addition to the points they will receive for the qualification itself.