Denham Sadler
June 17, 2019

Tech visa scheme to be reviewed

Skills

Tech visa scheme to be reviewed

Big Review: Government is looking at the effectiveness of the Global Talent visa

The twelve-month pilot of a Global Talent Scheme for tech-focused visas will be continued past its looming finish date as the federal government conducts a review of the scheme’s effectiveness.

The Global Talent Scheme was launched in July last year in an effort to placate an irate tech sector following the shock scrapping of the 457 visa in 2017.

The scheme, which sits under the Temporary Skills Shortage visa class, provides visas for “highly skilled and specialised positions that can’t be filled by Australian workers”.

Under the GTS, Australian businesses can get access to fast-tracked four year visas with a pathway to permanent residency. It is split into two streams, one for established businesses with annual turnover of more than $4 million, and a specialised startup stream.

The scheme was launched by the federal government as a 12-month pilot which will come to an end at the start of July.

The Department of Home Affairs confirmed to InnovationAus.com that it would conduct a review of the scheme once it is completed in two weeks, and that the scheme would continue while this review takes place.

“The pilot will be reviewed after 12 months to assess its performance and consider any changes to settings to better achieve its goals. The GTS will continue in its current form until the review is completed and a decision on the future of the scheme is made by government,” a department spokesperson told InnovationAus.com.

“The Australian government continues to be committed to attracting talent to fill skills needs in our economy,” it said.

“The department’s goal remains to provide businesses, including Australian startups, with a streamlined process to sponsor overseas workers with cutting-edge skills, where there are no suitable Australians available.”

The GTS got off to a slow start, and was delayed by the political turmoil in Canberra late last year. It took until October for the first company – Queensland-based SafetyCulture – to be approved under the scheme, while the first under the startup stream wasn't approved until March this year.

Fourteen companies have now qualified for the GTS and can access the fast-tracked visas, with four of these under the startup stream.

These companies include Q-CTRL and Gilmour Space Technologies, while larger tech companies to qualify for the scheme include Atlassian and Canva.

Other large, non-tech companies have also taken advantage of the GTS, including Rio Tinto and Coles.

The GTS was widely welcomed by the tech and startup sectors, which regularly raise concerns over the skills gap in Australia and access to talent.

It is hoped that it would be extended and refined to meet some of the issues that have prevented wider uptake, especially with the costs associated with issuing a visa.

Under the current scheme, businesses accessing the GTS have to pay a government fee along with the Skilling Australia Fund levy, which is an upfront cost of $1200 per year for each year the visa is running.

A four year visa for a small startup could cost up to $7,575 for an individual, and more if they are bringing a partner or children.

The federal government formed an Industry Advisory Group to support the pilot of the Global Talent Scheme, with members including StartupAus, the Australian Information Industry Association and Innovation and Science Australia.

While the future of the scheme is unclear, all companies that have already been accredited for the GTS will be able to access the fast-tracked TSS visas for five years after they were approved.

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