Virginia, US

On 7 December 2015, Australian Prime Minister the Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP released Australia’s National Innovation and Science agenda which the PM promises will “help create a modern, dynamic, 21st century economy for Australia”.

Amongst key measures within the agenda was a proposal to support innovation through visas with the announcement of two new initiatives:

  • A new Entrepreneur visa designed to attract more innovative talent from overseas; and
  • Enhanced permanent residence pathways for international postgraduate research students with science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and information and communications technology (ICT) qualifications. 
 
About the initiatives
 
The proposed Entrepreneur visa is geared towards entrepreneurs with high-growth potential ideas and financial backing from a third party to provide such foreign innovators with the opportunity to develop their ideas in Australia. Outside of the proposal itself, factors such as the level of financial backing and skill set of the entrepreneur are likely to be key considerations.

Postgraduate research graduates with STEM and ICT qualifications will also benefit whereby Australian doctorate level and master by research qualifications in STEM and specific ICT or related fields will qualify for additional points under the points tested General Skilled Migration program.  

Why the focus on STEM and ICT qualifications?

In short, due to an expanding skills gap in these areas and recognition that STEM and ICT skills have become critical across a range of sectors. Research by the Australian Bureau of Statistics  found that between 2006 and 2011, STEM skills job grew at rate of 50% faster than other jobs.  In term of ICT, a 2015 report by StartupAUS Crossroads found that the demand for ICT workers doubled between 1999 and 2012 at a time which applications for tertiary ICT courses experienced significant declined.  

Likely implementation date

The Australian Government has indicated that 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.

Fragomen will continue to monitor the progress of both of these initiatives and provide further updates as new information is provided by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection.