Australia to anoint a 'startup authority' as part of visa pilot

It's like Uber, but an authority for determining who is an Uber, and whether they can bring foreign technology workers into Australia.

The Australian government will be conducting a pilot of its Global Talent Scheme visa regime from July, with established businesses and technology startups to follow different streams to bring technology workers into the country.

For technology startups, some of the details will need to be consulted upon, including the appointment of a "startup authority" that will need to endorse a startup before it can bring in skilled workers under the scheme, and what company financial criteria must be met.

Whether an established business or startup, the pilot will require a business to demonstrate a policy to give "first preference to Australian workers" during recruitment, market testing for a position, and that a business be a "good corporate citizen" with no breaches of immigration or workplace laws.

Applicants must not have a familial relationship with company directors or shareholders, must have three years of experience directly relevant to the position, and must have a "capacity" to pass on skills to and develop Australian workers.

Established businesses must be publicly listed or have an annual turnover in excess of AU$4 million for the past two years, and are allowed to have up to 20 workers under the scheme that must be paid AU$180,000 or more. By contrast, the minimum wage for startups is laid out as "market salary rate", which can include equity but must have a cash component of more than AU$53,900. Startups can have up to five workers under the scheme each year.

Under the scheme, workers will gain a four-year visa that will allow for permanent residence after three years, and, should the role end, workers will have 60 days to find a new sponsor and new visa or be forced to leave the country.

The government said it would consult prior to the start of the pilot, and an industry advisory group would provide "ongoing guidance" during the pilot.

"We want to ensure that Australian businesses can access the best talent in the world, because this will underpin business growth, skills transfer and job creation," Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs Alan Tudge said.

"This is part of the ongoing reforms to our skilled visa programs to ensure that Australians have priority for Australian jobs, but acknowledge that there are times when the skills are not available in the country."

With the abolition of the 457 work visa in April 2017, the government removed a number of IT roles from the jobs list used under the new Temporary Skill Shortage visa.

This position was later reversed, with a number of jobs being added back onto the list in July.

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