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Ease-up on visa rules or you will lose talent

StartupAus board member Teresa Engelhard has warned DIBP that talent is more valuable than SIV investors and it needs to change its attitude and approach when dealing with such talent.

Her warning comes after officials from both the UK and the US rushed in to entice Chris Bailey and his nine-person team at Disrupt to setup his business there after Australia’s department of immigration recently threw-out the million dollar start-up entrepreneur for not picking fruit.

According to a report in The Australian Financial Review, Ms Engelhard, who once had a US$5 billion IPO to her name, has joined calls for the DIBP to be less combative and work with startups.

She also suggested that Australia consider adopting elements of the USA’s H-1B visa where approved businesses essentially vet for the skills and staff they need the most.

Encouraging the Department of Immigration to become "part of the solution" in plugging Australia's STEM skill shortfall will be one of Engelhard's aims as a StartupAUS board member, reports the AFR.

"In some instances there should be more consideration of the skills an individual or family can bring. I appreciate immigration is a tricky issue for every Western country [but] there is value beyond having $5 million for a significant investor visa," she says. 

"We have to design a policy that allows companies to have a big say in sponsoring and importing the skills," she says. "Otherwise we'll just end up with more Uber drivers than we need."

The combination of Australia's research & development tax incentives and relatively cheap currency means the price of employing a software engineer in Australia is presently "less than half" that in San Francisco, Engelhard says.

"Pull the right levers on immigration and this is a skills advantage we can double down on. We're already seeing companies like Freelancer, WiseTech and RedBubble build Australian-engineered businesses that have hardly any of their revenue actually coming from Australia," she says.

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  • Guest
    Michael Morrisroe Tuesday, 05 April 2016

    I thought Bailey and Disrupt were going to appeal, or is that not possible? I would also like to know from what British and American departments the officials "rushed in to entice" Bailey and Disrupt to move. I do US migration, and I have never seen any US department rush or even do a fast crawl.

  • Guest
    Raul senise Tuesday, 05 April 2016

    The Chris Bailey story has nothing to do with the Government being tough on entrepreneurs. Stating that "Australia’s department of immigration recently threw-out the million dollar start-up entrepreneur for not picking fruit" is misleading.

    From all reports his visa was cancelled for lying about completing the three months of regional employment required to extend his working holiday visa.

    Should he be allowed to lie and obtain a visa under false pretenses because he is an "entrepreneur"?

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