Start-Ups Lose Hope as Global Talent Visa Delayed for Months

Australian start-up founders are still facing significant staffing issues, as the government’s proposed Global Talent Visa scheme has yet to eventuate.

The pilot program was announced earlier this year by the federal government, in response to criticism from tech industry heavyweights following the abolition of the 457 visa.

However, reports suggest that the political turmoil caused by the recent leadership spill has effectively halted the program’s progress. Months have now passed without the scheme seeing an official launch, leaving start-ups struggling to access international tech talent.

The Global Talent Visa scheme was touted as a solution to the more restrictive requirements of the new TSS visa, with a specific stream dedicated to start-up business. The program will allow employers to hire international workers to fill up to five positions each year, with a pathway to permanent residency being made available after three years.

The “start-up visa” also came with a number of concessions attached, including the requirement that employers will need to be verified by an independent panel prior to being approved for the program.

Although the tech industry initially held high hopes for the new visa stream, the Global Talent Scheme appears to have fallen by the political wayside, having already missed its’ July 1 target date for the pilot launch.

According to the CEO of StartupAus, Alex McCauley, the new visa program has been “quite slow coming in”.

“The pilot was meant to start on July 1, but there have been no visas issued under the scheme yet,” McCauley said.

“Part of the reasons for that is the shifting around on a political level in Canberra, but in the meantime, startups have been applying for the regular TSS visa, which just looks a lot like the 457 visa.”

“The government wanted to make it harder for businesses to get visas, and that’s what they’ve done,” he said.

The delays have also drawn heated criticism from the founder of the labour hire and migration consulting firm, Jo Burston, who argued that the TSS and Global Talent programs are an inferior replacement for the previous 457 visa.

According to Burston, the higher fees and extended processing times for the TSS visa are an “instant barrier” for smaller businesses and new start-ups looking to employ foreign workers. She claims that the costs can quickly become crippling for fledgling businesses if they employ multiple international workers.

“This hinders any company looking to get a worker into Australia really quickly, especially those who need someone with very specific skills to run a certain project,” she said.

“A lot of companies have shied away from the process which has led to them not having the expertise they need, simply because they didn’t want to put themselves through six months of dealing with Home Affairs,” Burston said.

A Senior Migration Agent for Absolute Immigration, Tanya Shroff, was also highly critical of the government’s inability to get the Global Talent Visa scheme off the ground.

“It is disappointing to see the same Government who is seeking to streamline and condense the amount of visa subclasses now delay this Global Talent Scheme pilot program,” Shroff said.

“There have been many companies wanting to use the this visa as an alternative to the rigid TSS program due to its significant costs, as well as the lengthy processing times. However, to date the Government has still failed to confirm when the new program will commence.”

“In order to remain globally competitive employers need to be able to fast-track talent, rather than being hindered by long processing times. For Australia to successfully compete on a global scale—especially in the fast-paced tech industry—we need visa programs which can access key talent and encourage them to choose Australia as their home,” she said.

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