The Australian Entrepreneur visa is a subclass of the Business Innovation and Investment (Provisional) visa (subclass 188), especially designed for entrepreneurs who have innovative ideas and start-up plans. The Federal Government has made changes to immigration laws to encourage the development of new ideas and innovative businesses, wherever sourced. The ticket is talent, a plan and financial backing.
The new visa allows entrepreneurs to come to Australia to develop and commercialise new ideas. Entrepreneurs can bring family members, and the provisional visa can lead to a permanent visa (subclass 888).
These are just the bare bones. The following are some of the more specific questions we hear from our clients about the Entrepreneur visa:
FAQ #1: What are the eligibility requirements?
This is strictly a government-sponsored visa. In order to be eligible, you have to be invited to apply by the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection after having been nominated by a state or territory government or Australian agency.
You and your family must meet certain health and character requirements, validated by a police check and relevant health examinations. Importantly, you must conform to an Australian Values Statement.
In addition, you must be under the age of 55, unless this requirement has been waived, be competent in English and have the intention and a business plan that will enable you to continue this activity in Australia.
The commercial activity in which you propose to engage must be one that will lead to the commercialisation of an innovative product or service or that will develop an enterprise or business in Australia. It cannot be residential real estate, labour hire or the purchase of an existing enterprise or a franchise in Australia.
FAQ #2: Are there specialised funding requirements?
Yes, and this is one of the greatest hurdles for applicants. You must have one or more legally enforceable agreements to receive the required funding from one of the following entities:
- Commonwealth government agency;
- State or territory government;
- Publicly funded research organization;
- An investor who is registered as an Australian Venture Capital Limited Partnership or Early State Venture Capital Limited Partnership; or
- Specified higher education provider.
Under the agreement, at least 10 per cent of the funding must be payable to the entrepreneurial entity within 12 months of the day the activity is undertaken in Australia. In addition, you must hold at least a 30 per cent interest in your entrepreneurial entity.
FAQ #3: How do I apply for sponsorship in NSW?
To be eligible to submit an application, you must first submit an Expression of Interest (EOI) to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection and then receive an invitation. Accepted applicants must then apply within 60 days, meeting NSW and Department of Home Affairs visa criteria. These two things are of paramount importance.
Your detailed business plan must demonstrate a commitment to maintaining a relationship with NSW and that your business will lead to the development of an enterprise or the commercialisation of goods or services. It is prudent to have a fully developed business plan before beginning the application.
Second, you must be able to show that the net value of your business and personal assets is sufficient to support your settlement expenses in NSW. Prospective applicants are strongly advised to seek legal advice about both of these elements prior to applying.
FAQ #4: Is the program expected to continue, as it is?
The application process is demanding, and the program has come under some criticism since its inception in 2016 because relatively few applicants have been accepted. This may simply be due to a lack of public information about the program.
Some states, like South Australia have experimented with limited pilot programs that have reduced the investment and language requirements. NSW has made efforts to expedite paperwork. Since this is a government-sponsored visa program, it would not be unusual to see some changes in the requirements for specific states and territories, depending on local business circumstances.
If you have further questions about the Australian Entrepreneurship visa – whether it is appropriate for your circumstances and how to apply – the attorneys at Owen Hodge Lawyers would be happy to speak with you. Please call us at 1800 770 780 to schedule a consultation.