It’s now easier than ever for hot tech talent to move to Australia

Atlassia’s Scott Farquhar. Image: Chris Pash

  • 457 visa scheme ended in March, cutting intake from 130,000 to 70,000.
  • New scheme runs adjacent to the TSS, but largely targeted at tech industry.
  • Authorised startups can make five hires per year, in any occupation.

Australian innovators are officially on the hunt to lure top tech talent after the Turnbull government’s new visa pilot program was switched on yesterday.

The new visa, issued through the Global Talent Scheme, replaces the popular 457 visa scheme which ended in March, and sits under the controversial Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS).

The GTS is a 12-month trial established to allay concerns from the tech industry that the TSS was far too limitied, notably that it would “significantly condense” the occupation list used for 457s, tighten English language requirements, and, under the short-term stream, allow just one onshore visa renewal.

When the 457 scheme officially ended in March, the number of workers allowed into Australia each year fell from 130,000 to 70,000.

Companies such as Atlassian have as much as a 25% of their workforce on 457 temporary migration visas.

The GTS allows visas for up to four years to be offered, and the chance to eventually apply for permanent residency.

Crucially, it axes the list of occupations covered in the TSS entirely.

Alex Gruszka, COO of StartupAUS, said the specialised start-up focused stream of the GTS “has the potential to provide some serious relief for startup founders”.

The startup stream offers access to five visas per year for authorised startups.

The visas have a lower salary threshold, the ability to use equity and other benefits to reach that salary and a path to permanent residency.

Gruszka said startups regularly tell StartupAus that talent is the single biggest factor limiting their growth. Without an occupation list, he said “it will be much easier to hire highly specialised and cutting edge roles”.

“Startups that are able to grow and scale will be able to transition to the established business stream as their staffing requirements increase,” he said.

“Startups will still be able to continue to apply for visas under the existing TSS, so the GTS is specifically there to plug gaps and recruit people who are tricky to hire under the current system.

“It’s all upside.”