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Cerberus1

Government pilots scheme to attract high-tech skills and talent

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The Australian government will create a new visa to compete with other countries for “high-tech skills and talent”, with companies allowed to sponsor migrants for jobs paid more than $180,000.

There will also be a new visa for start-up companies seeking talent in STEM fields like biomedicine and agricultural technology.

Both visas will require the migrant to have three years of relevant experience, while the sponsor companies will need to demonstrate they tried to hire Australians first.

“The Government recognises there is fierce competition globally for high-tech skills and talent, and that attracting these people helps to transfer skills to Australian workers and grow Australian-based businesses,” a Turnbull government media release reads.

There will not be a cap on the overall number of visas, but individual companies will have a limit on how many migrants they can employ. 

Businesses will be able to take up to 20 skilled migrants under the new stream per year, while start-ups will be able to take up to five. 

The visas for jobs paid more than $180,000 will only be available to businesses with a turnover of more than $4 million. The start-up visas will be available to any that is authorised by an industry body, yet to be chosen by the government. 

The migrants will have the option of a "transitional pathway" to permanent residence after three years in the country. 

The details of the scheme will be ironed out over the next few months before a 12-month pilot begins on July 1.

The need for visa changes to attract high-value employees from overseas has been the “number one priority” in the emerging startup sector, according to an industry group.

StartupAUS chief executive Alex McCauley said the government’s changes to 457 temporary work visas last year, which restricted the list of occupations and cut off the path to permanent residency for many jobs, had made it harder for start-ups to compete.

“The single biggest challenge for Australian start-ups is getting access to the best talent in the world,” 

“It got more difficult when the 457 visa announcements were made last year and start-ups in this country are really crying out for a way to get access to talent.”

“Everybody’s looking to hire product managers, software engineers, digital growth specialists, data scientists.”

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