Part 2: Australian innovation and visas – a new visa pathway for start ups

Further Disrupt(ion)

There is an interesting follow up to my post last week stating that Australia needs a new business visa pathway for start ups.

The business detailed in my post, Disrupt, has now already been offered homes in a number of countries. Reportedly the UK, US and China. Whilst Disrupt will no doubt use these offers as currency – in either trying to obtain the best conditions for a move, or to potentially pull off an (unlikely) reprise for their deported COO – the lessons need to be heard.

Start ups

Australia & Entrepreneurs – Head down or head up?

Australia can’t afford to put their head down and avoid the message. Countries are willing to fight for the best young, innovative business talent out there.

Whilst Australia is full of talented people – it doesn’t have all the skills it needs within it’s population to deliver the change the business environment needs – neither can it afford to lose entrepreneurial talent such as those in Disrupt.

Significant Investor Visa (SIV) statistics – an increase in interest

The Department of Immigration & Border Patrol (DIBP) have recently released some updated statistics about the Significant Investor visa (SIV) programme for the programme year 1 July, 2015 to January 31, 2016.

The SIV programme is a pathway to provide for significant migrant investment into Australia under the Business Innovation and Investment visa programme.

Business Innovation & Investment programme statistics

Business Innovation & Investment programme statistics

As of 31 January 2016:

· 1228 SIV visas have been granted from the commencement of the programme on 24 November 2012.

· AUD 6.140 billion has been invested in Complying Investments.

The statistics indicate there has been an increase in SIV applications lodged in recent months. Looking forward interest is expected to grow globally, including applicants from the UK and Europe.

If you would like some assistance, have a general query or would like an introduction to advisers that can assist with planning, preparing and lodging a SIV then please get in touch with us.

Part 1: Australian innovation and visas – a new visa pathway is needed for overseas start ups

Digital Disrupt(ion) and visas

An interesting story appeared today in the Australian press.

The details are in this press article, however the story focuses on Chris Bailey, who along with an Australian business partner set up a successful and fast growing start up buisness called Disrupt in Sydney. This was before he was deported from Australia for lying about completing his mandatory three month fruit picking stint in order to extend his working holiday visa.

It, again, reinforces the problem that Australia has with innovation and visas. In particular how does the Australian visa program support innovation and start ups. In an increasingly competitive international, innovative and digital world, it forces us to consider:

  • What can help Australia drive young entrepreneurial international talent to the country?
  • Why doesn’t the current visa system support the people we need to accomplish this – be it through skilled visas, employer sponsored visas or the business innovation and investment programs?
business innovation & investment

business innovation & investment

Compliance v vision

Whilst most people are of the view that visa compliance is important to the integrity of the visa system, there comes a time when common sense and vision must prevail. There needs to be a solution for someone willing to put their hand in their pocket – figuratively and/or literally – with what appears to be a track record of starting and managing small innovative businesses.

At present there is no such option available to individuals with this talent. They need to either meet relatively stringent criteria in the business innovation and investment program, usually beyond the means of innovative young business people, or they are lost to Australia before they get there. Alternately they need to be sponsored by a business and be paid a market rate salary for the position that is held. A not insignificant cost for any business, let alone one at the start of their journey.

A new visa pathway is needed

So what’s the solution? At this point in time it is difficult to outline a complete visa solution. However a temporary residency visa that encourages people with a combination of the below could be considered.

  • proven entrepreneurial skills or start up activity (as manager or director)
  • college or university training in a technology/digital/computer science/design/engineering course
  • proficient english language skills
  • evidence of sufficient assets or nomination by an Australian resident/citizen business owner/director or support from a federal or state/territory authority
  • adequate health cover

As a follow up to this visa there should be a clear pathway to permanent residency, or a visa extension if the start up is tracking well. This should not be done at the expense of those business people and investors who meet the current criteria, however it should be incorporated into the overall program.

Unfortunatley it would not help Chris, but it could provide a catalyst for the next Chris to find a way to get to Australia and either stay, or leave a legacy for locals to continue with.

Disrupt have also commented on it as well via Linkedin.

What our clients say about us …..

We love receiving feedback about our Australian immigration services. Below is a selection of some of these.

Mark, Skilled Migration, Cambridge

I just wanted to mention we used Mark and he was fantastic. He guided us through the processes very efficiently, via email and phone and reassured us every step of the way. We started on 26th December and we delayed it on purpose for a few months during spring as we thought we may need to give ourselves more time, he happily helped us with when to delay, then when things changed and we wanted to get everything done ASAP he immediately helped us get everything in immediately.

If anyone is looking for an agent, do get in touch with him. I was very happy with his service.

Jaclyn, Skilled Migration, Edinburgh

I would like to have the opportunity to say how impressed I am with the service you have provided. As I said, I have no doubt that the whole process ran smoothly and that my application was able to progress as efficiently as it did because of all the work that you put into it.

I would also like to thank you for your ongoing, very prompt communication which led to me feeling really well informed of what was happening and what would happen next, as well as being provided with very clear guidance and support from you. I found that it reduced a level of stress from the whole process, for which I am especially thankful and I know Justin would also pass on his thanks – as it also helped him to know that I wasn’t struggling through it all on my own.

I am sure that I will end up contacting you again in the future and I would not hesitate to recommend your company – I found your professionalism and genuine helpfulness a great assistance throughout it all. It is definitely an exciting new chapter!

Paul, Skilled Migration, Glasgow

Mark was invaluable during my successful visa application. He provided clear guidance throughout the process, which I’m sure would have taken me much longer on my own.

Sean, Partner Migration, Brisbane

When faced with the challenge of my British partner and unborn child having to leave Australia, and uncertainty over visa eligibility Mark came to the rescue, explaining, simplifying and guiding us through each step, making a daunting process stressless. Mark made sure our application had the best chance possible and our visa was approved without any delays. We couldn’t have hoped for a better outcome and would not hesitate to recommend Mark, for any immigration services. Thank-you Mark for helping keep our family together.

Barry, Business Migration, Edinburgh & Melbourne

For more information.. click here

Professor John Shields, The University of Sydney Business School

“Re: Appreciation for your support for the Business School’s educational mission…International Dimensions of Human Resource Management”

University of Sydney acknowledgement letter

To discuss how we can assist you, please Contact Us.

Ticket to the World – Australian visa options

I recently had an opportunity to write an article for @TeamPlayer360, a monthly newspaper covering Recruitment, Jobs, HR and Careers distributed across Edinburgh and London. The article has recently been published and is reproduced below.

The article provides an overview of Australian visa options for skilled professionals, businesses and investors.

Australian visa options

Australian immigration

Ticket to the World: Australian visa options for individuals & businesses

In a word of increasing skilled shortages, your qualifications and skills can be a ticket to see the world. This is especially so when it comes to working or migrating to Australia.

Whilst modern Australia was built on a combination of both skilled workers and unskilled labour – the majority of which were people on a one way ticket from the UK, Ireland and Europe – this is not the case anymore.

The focus is now well and truly on skilled individuals. Individuals who are qualified and have experience in high demand occupations such as engineering, healthcare, information technology, trades, accounting and professional services. It is no coincidence that these occupations remain in high demand around the world and it is these professions that are driving an increasingly global mobile workforce.

However if you fall outside these high demand occupations this does not necessarily rule you out completely as Australia has a myriad of visa options. If you have some qualifications and professional experience it may be just about assessing yourself against the options, and then putting into place the pieces of jigsaw to get the result you are after.

For the lucky few the golden ticket is usually being eligible for a skilled independent visas. Skilled independent visas are, in general, for people under 50 years old and work in one of the occupations above. These visas allow an individual and their family to arrive as permanent residents – the stepping stone to Australia citizen – and to access great majority of public services that Australians can such as healthcare and schools. And there is not even an requirement that you need to work in the skill that got you there.

For those that fall outside the skilled independent options, the past decade has seen an increasing focus on the States and Territories of Australia having a greater say on would be migrants. They are given some degree of autonomy to attract people with skills that aren’t necessarily in shortage nationally but are specifically in their state or regional area within. So while there may be little opportunity for people in occupations in your desired city, there may be elsewhere.

Close relations in Australia – siblings, Parents, Uncles/Aunty’s, Parents – can also in some circumstances have a positive effect on a visa application. This family support can often be the difference between moving there or not.

When none of the above fits your circumstances there may be opportunities for you through employer sponsored visas. When a recruiter picks up the phone to speak to you about roles in Australia, it is usually on one of these visas that they will you be employed. Employer Sponsored visas allows for skilled individuals to obtain work visas as long as you remain with that employer. So while it does come at the cost of some flexibility, compared to the independent visas it also often comes with the advantage of an income upon arrival. There are also other benefits that may be added – primarily depending on human resources policy – such as housing, relocation, annual return flights home and other incentives. Whilst the heady days of benefits that were handed out pre GFC no longer exist anything offered can be the difference between going or staying. At this stage understanding the tax ramifications of accepting an offer, both home and abroad is imperative. Although as this is an expensive business there may be clawback arrangements in place to repay some costs should you leave employment within a specified period of time.

Whilst employer sponsored visa are usually a temporary residency option it often a pathway to permanent residency. Whilst accurate figures are hard to find it is often suggested that 80% progress to permanent residency. This shows the appeal of a strong economy and an enviable lifestyle. It is also a reflection of the trend of successive governments supporting employer sponsored migration.

For anyone who falls short of meeting any of the above visa there may be some alternate options. The working holiday program allows most EU citizens under 31 to experience 12-24 months working in Australia. Whilst this can be the great backpacking adventure of a life, it can also provide opportunities to experience living and undertaking work in Australia and can then lead onto other visas such as employer sponsored visas or even partner visas. It remains the ultimate try before you buy option.

Finally, where all else fails, there are significant advantages offered to those who may want to stay permanently in Australia if they undertake study in a recognised skill shortage area. This is best reflected by the fact that Australia has the 4th largest market in the world for foreign students in tertiary education.

However it is not all about skilled individuals and employees. For successful investors or business owners that desire to relocate permanently to Australia, there are pathways via the business skills program. This program allows innovative and entrepreneurial people to either set up or buy a business or make investments in approved funds or businesses.

Finally for those business owners looking to expand their business or to service new contracts in Australia there are pathways for you to facilitate this and to offer your employees an opportunity to change their life. The criteria for this is not always straight forward and involves compliance with a wide range of law – covering corporate, tax and employment law to name a few – however they allow a business to establish themselves from the beginning with the right foundations for long term success. There have also been concessions made for contract and project workers to enter into the country for work. A reflection of the growth and significance of the resources boom that has helped Australia to not have a recession in 23 years. The only developed country in the world to claim this.

So whether it is permanently or temporarily those people with the the right skills or desire can usually find a pathway for themselves. It may be easy for some compared to others but with planning and patience and the right advice it is achievable.

Leadership, infrastructure & immigration

Build it and they will come

Leadership, infrastructure and immigration

Leadership, infrastructure & immigration

Last week I had the pleasure of attending an Australian Business Leaders Lunch put on by Australian Business In Europe and the Commonwealth Bank.

To say it was a worthwhile experience would be an understatement. It was a great chance to meet and network with a number of prominent and influential Australian business people in Europe and to meet a number of senior executives at some significant Australian businesses that have offices based in London.

Although the lunch was a relaxed affair as with any of these types of lunches there were a number of guest speakers. In particular there were two primate Australians, namely Alexander Downer the former Australian Foreign Minister and the current Australian High Commissioner to the UK as well as Sir David Higgins the Chairman of High Speed Two (HS2) – the company responsible for developing and promoting the UK’s high speed rail network – and previously responsible for the delivery of the 2012 London Olympic Games.

Alexander Downer spoke about a number of issues and the focus of his current role. Primarily he stressed the importance of Australia continuing to have close business relationships with the UK, despite Australia’s growing business reliance on China and India for trade. He noted that the relationship between Australia and the UK had changed over the years and that the UK had gone from being Australia’s largest trading partner to at present being the 7th largest trading partner.

However Alexander Downer did stress that despite this drop the UK was still the 2nd largest source of direct foreign investment in the country and it was imperative that this was maintained and managed effectively. In term of the industries he pinpointed Infrastructure as being a key way of doing this. That developing and opening collaboration between the countries and businesses in this area was essential for both countries.

Sir David Higgins in his address continued along this vein. He noted in recent years his career had focussed on developing and managing infrastructure projects and he stressed the potential infrastructure projects can have in regenerating deprived areas. This he said was a key element in obtaining additional funds for building the infrastructure required for the London 2012 Olympics and which ultimately resulted in the regeneration of parts of East London. Regeneration was also seen as a significant benefit in delivering a high speed rail network. he commented that it provided a chance to redress some of the imbalances between London and other parts of the country. Whilst the logistics and plans for the project where not covered in any great detail the example given was that the time taken for a trip between London, Birmingham & Manchester would effectively be halved. Therefore this may start to address some of the imbalances between London and outside London. These examples were best represented by the fact that the Top 100 listed companies by value on the London Sock exchange had their headquarters in London, that for every £1 spent outside of London on transport networks there are £10 spent in London and the significant difference in property values between London and the vast majority of the UK.

When questioned about his thoughts on infrastructure in Australia, like in the UK, he again stressed the importance of continued development. In particular he said Australian cities needed to ensure they develop road and transport links in cities such as Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney especially as they grow. He also credited Perth as a city that had made the most progress in regards to this.

From an Australian immigration perspective his comments reflect what we have seen in immigration policy over the last decade and more. That the infrastructure industry and those associated with it were in continual demand and will remain so for the foreseeable future. This has been reflected in my experience since 2002 whether working in either individual or corporate immigration. Along with healthcare, IT and professional services I have assisted and advised more engineers, tradespeople and businesses associated with the infrastructure industry – such as infrastructure investment companies – than any other. It seems that it still proves to provide opportunities all over the world whether as a skilled individual, business owner or investor.

Australian Business Leaders Lunch

Australian Business Leaders Lunch

Doing Business in Australia – Barry Corr CEO @IrishChamber

Doing business in Australia

Doing business in Australia

Doing business in Australia – An interview with Barry Corr the CEO of the Irish Australian Chamber of Commerce (IACC)

The decision to immigrate to Australia is a big decision for everyone. For those contemplating it one of the first things they do is seek advice from people who have already been there and done it – be they family, friends, colleagues and some cases competitors – about the process and the personal challenges that may await them.

This is particularly so for people who migrate under the Business Innovation and Investment Visa Program. The onus on people migrating on the back of their Business Skills is to use their experience and money to get involved in investment or establishing a business in Australia.

In the case of Barry Corr, a previous client of mine, he is suitably qualified to provide this advice.

Not only has Barry been there and done it himself as a business migrant but in his current role as the CEO of the Irish Australian Chamber of Commerce (IACC) in Melbourne he now helps Irish businesses set up and operate in Australia and connect the Irish Australian business community.

On this basis I asked Barry if he could share his story with me. Barry agreed and shared some information about his personal and business experiences and achievements, his role with the IACC, business opportunities in Australia and his Top 5 Tips for business owners or companies considering establishing themselves in Australia.


As someone who migrated to Australia with their young family under the Business Skills program in 2007 can you explain what drove you to make that decision to move on from the UK? Was it business or personal? Or something else?  

Our son, Charlie, was born in 2006 and after that our lives really changed. Having started a business in 2003 and working every hour available to build it, all of a sudden priorities changed for me and my wife who had previously worked in an international clinical trials role. We had always had a thought in the back of our minds to go somewhere new and experience new things. Our friends from Australia did a great PR job and convinced us that was where we should go. In 2007, the opportunity came up to sell out of the business in Edinburgh and move to Melbourne so we took it and haven’t looked back since.

The business that you owned in the UK was in recruiting and HR services, and you have done the same thing in Australia with Luminant Talent Consulting and Finance Pro. Was it always your intention to enter the same industry? Or did you consider alternatives?  

I guess that initially I felt there was enough change pending with the move that I should stick to what I knew best work-wise and while I control both companies, is where I spent most of my operational time as that’s where the types of projects I preferred to work in tended to be. More recently I’ve stepped away from that as I’ve increased my involvement in the Irish Australian Chamber of Commerce to become their first full-time CEO with national scope and that’s been really enjoyable.

How have your Australian businesses gone and what have been the biggest challenges so far for them?

I kicked things off with a recruitment focus having had many successful years operating in the senior marketplace but a year into our journey the GFC hit and everything changed, even in Australia, which was one of the most resilient economies. The business plan was reviewed and Luminant spun out in its own right as a boutique consultancy and advisory firm. That’s where most growth has come in recent years as recruitment becomes more commoditised. Having set my stall out with a quality above all mantra, I’ve no real passion to chase low margin recruitment business and with the quality of work that was coming through Luminant before taking on the Chamber role, I was fortunate to be able to be more selective around doing any search work.

Since September 2010 you have been involved in the Irish Australia Chamber of Commerce (IACC) as the CEO. How did this come about and what is a quick overview of your duties and goals there?

When I arrived in Australia I struggled to find any Irish business groups of note and the Chamber at that time was at a bit of a low ebb. As a disillusioned member, I thought I would drift away as things declined but a superbly executed “ambush” over lunch with a close friend and mentor, Paul Moynes, himself a past President, saw me convinced to take up a half day a week executive role under new President Brian Shanahan OAM.

Things began to improve under a revitalised and talented board, some of whom I will admit to “volunteering” into service for the greater good, and in the four years since the Chamber has returned to its position of leadership and support within the Irish Australian business community.

In recent months my role has expanded under our current President Rob Clifford and one of those original “volunteers” Fergal Coleman, who is now our VP. They and the board have solid plans to expand our offering and reach with the recent announcement of the inaugural Irish Australian Business Awards and the further expansion of our Business Mentoring Program .

As someone who speaks to businesses from Ireland considering setting up in Australia what industries do you see as offering the most opportunities for overseas businesses at the moment?

While the construction phase of many of the larger mining projects in WA is at an end, LNG is presenting many opportunities. On the east coast a multi-billion dollar program of infrastructure investment will create massive opportunity for engineers, advisors and project managers among others.

 From the IACC perspective what will be your focus for 2015?

We will host over 1,000 for a St Patrick’s Lunch in March in Melbourne which will take a little bit of work! Apart from that, the Awards and Mentoring are likely to provide the bulk of non-event work before we host a trade delegation in May and further delegations later in the year.

Given these dual roles, as a business owner and at the IACC, what would be your TOP 5 TIPS tips for migrating as a business owner or setting up an office in Australia?


  1. Do your homework before you arrive.
  2. Join the Chamber or an equivalent organisation – it’s a small investment that can save you lots of time and wasted cash!
  3. Appoint the best advisors you can as quickly as you can.
  4. Think outside the box for office space. There are lots of flexible solutions, shared workspaces and virtual assistance to be availed of. If you’re going to be spending a lot of time outside the office, do you need so much space? It’s an overhead that may not be necessary. In Melbourne in particular, when I was doing my own consultancy work, I’d say half my client meetings took place over a coffee, about 40% at client sites and only 10% at my building. On that basis, access to meeting rooms on a pay per use basis may be smarter than running your own to sit dormant.
  5. There’s some great talent here, don’t be afraid to hire good people and reward them well.


On a final note I have a few more personal questions for you. Starting with what do you miss most about your life in the UK and Ireland? And how do manage this?

It’s hard to be so far away from grandparents when you’ve got the only grandchild in the family! However, they love to come over for Xmas as the kids are off school for a long time, the weather is brilliant, the grandparents miss the worst of their winter and it gives us some time to slip away for a mum and dad holiday!

And what do you and your family enjoy most about Australia?

The family focus, outdoor lifestyle and limitless opportunities.

Finally, what has been your proudest achievement since your move to Australia?

Getting our Permanent Residency in 2014 was a great result after a long and difficult process. It gives us certainty as a family to invest in our future in Australia