For the past two and a half years, there have been only 8 visas issued to applicants of an Australian visa program designed to attract and sustain entrepreneurial talent to the country.
The Home Affairs released some documents as permitted by the Freedom of Information Act which showed that there had been 25 entrepreneur visa applications made under the Business Innovation and Investment Visa (subclass 188) since September 2016 when it was launched. Only 8 applications out of these 25 were granted.
The 8 successful applications cover that of secondary applicants such as family members. Ultimately, the number of entrepreneurs who have come into Australia through this route may be as low as 2.
According to some immigration lawyers, the visa program lacked awareness and has some funding requirements that were restrictive. These, they believe were responsible for its failure. The program has been revamped, and this version of it has been improved. At the moment, it is being trialed in South Australia.
Australia has another visa policy designed to attract tech talent to the country. It is known as the Global Talent Scheme and has also failed. This one has only one visa issued under its startup stream.
The entrepreneur visa was launched in 2016 ending as a strategy to attract entrepreneurs to open startups in the country with an offer to get permanent residency.
Factors surrounding its failure
Applicants for the program are expected to raise a minimum of $200,000 from an Australian third party which could be a venture capital fund or a state government.
Alex McCauley, the CEO of Startup Aus said the visa scheme was expensive, had a long processing period and difficult to qualify for.
He went on to say that the visa route is not competitive, but that the requirement which demanded that applicants raised money from an Australian source before they could qualify, posed as its biggest barrier.
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