The Australian Department of Immigration & Border Protection (DIBP) is making changes to the visa system as part of the National Innovation and Science Agenda.

It is intended that these changes will help Australia attract and retain the best and brightest entrepreneurial talent and the skilled, talented people Australia needs to drive ideas from research to commercial reality.

On 10 September 2016, DIBP launched a new Entrepreneur visa’ stream and amended the ‘points test’ for the skilled migration programme.

The Entrepreneur visa is part of the Business Innovation and Investment visa programme. Entrepreneurs interested in applying for the Entrepreneur visa will need to submit an Expression of Interest (EOI) in SkillSelect and be nominated by a State or Territory government.

Key eligibility criteria includes:

  • Applicants must be undertaking, or proposing to undertake, an entrepreneurial venture in Australia.

  • The entrepreneurial venture must not be related to residential real estate or labour hire or involve purchasing an existing business or franchise.

  • Applicants must also be under 55 years of age, have a competent level of English, and have at least 30 per cent interest in their entrepreneurial venture.

  • There must be one or more funding agreements in place for at least $200,000 between the entrepreneur or venture and a third party funding body or bodies.

  • Sources of third party funding are limited to state and territory governments, Commonwealth agencies, Publicly Funded Research Organisations, and investors registered as a Venture Capital Limited

  • Partnerships (VCLP) or Early Stage Venture Capital Limited Partnerships (ESVCLP). Agreements outlining funds from a combination of these sources are also acceptable.

  • Applicants must have a business plan outlining their plans for their venture in Australia.

An Entrepreneur visa holder can progress to permanent residency after four years if they can meet a measure of success, which includes factors such as business turnover, employment of Australians and ability to obtain significant financial backing.