The government’s new National Science and Innovations Agenda, unveiled in early December 2015, includes significant investment in entrepreneurship, collaboration and innovation. One of the new measures announced is significant visa reform, to commence in the second half of 2016.
A new Entrepreneur Visa will be introduced to attract innovative talent and changes will be made to retain high achieving foreign students in Australia. The Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Peter Dutton said ideas, skills and talent were essential to a high performing economy.
“The visa system is a key enabler of Australia’s ability to attract and capitalise on the expertise and ideas of foreign innovators within a global marketplace,” he said.
“We also have a strong interest in retaining highly educated individuals to contribute to a thriving knowledge economy.”
Mr Dutton said the new Entrepreneur Visa would attract individuals with unique skill sets, ideas and the entrepreneurial talent to Australia.
“It will be available for emerging entrepreneurs with innovative ideas and financial backing to develop their ideas in Australia. Australia’s overseas networks will be leveraged to actively encourage entrepreneurial and innovative talent to come to Australia”.
“We also want to retain highly educated, talented people whose knowledge base has been developed in Australia. We will make changes to facilitate a pathway to permanent residence for foreign students who are recent graduates from Australian institutions with specialised doctorate-level and Masters-by-research qualifications,” Mr Dutton said.
The changes would assist graduates in STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering and mathematics or specified ICT and related fields.
In announcing the Agenda, the Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, said that there will be no set cap on the number of visas that will be granted.
“Can I say, the more high-quality, effective, productive enterprising entrepreneurs we can attract, the better because they drive jobs,” said Prime Minister Turnbull.
“Entrepreneurs create jobs, any new business. This is why we are doing so much to encourage new businesses, whether it is through the entrepreneur’s visa or by reason of the very generous tax offsets and capital gains tax exemptions for investing in early-stage ventures.
“We’ve got to be prepared to have a go and be more prepared to embrace risk and experimentation. It goes with this package, too. Every change that we make here, every step that we take with this, we are going to examine in the future and see how it’s performed. Those things that do well, we’ll do more of. Those things that do not do so well, we’ll do less of and we may do something else. This is not a one-off announcement. This is not the first and last word of this Government on innovation. This is an absolutely critical theme of our administration to ensure that we are always driving innovation because, I promise you, that is the future – that is our future. It is the future for our jobs and our children and grandchildren. Innovation is a big cultural measure. It’s something that we need to be better at in Australia and right across the board.”
You can download the National Innovation and Science Agenda here and find out more about the entrepreneur visa here.