The Australian Visa Guide for International Startups

If you’re a startup entrepreneur looking to expand your business into Australia, the first thing you should be considering is getting a visa. Here’s an easy-to-read outline of what we think are the most relevant Australian visas for entrepreneurs that are looking towards Australia for potential market expansion or as a product development base.

Please note that we are not a registered migration agent and this is not professional advice. Please refer to the Australia Home Affairs website for official information and to find a registered migration agent.

Two main visas: working and visitor visas

The two main visa classifications you should be looking at are working and skilled visas, and visitor visas.

The main thing to note is that working and skilled visas give you permission to work in Australia. On the other hand, visitor visas can vary so you’ll have to examine each one carefully

Of course, after reading this article we still recommend that our readers employ their own judgement, make direct enquiries, further examination, and seek professional advice regarding visa suitability and eligibility.  

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Working and skilled visas

Working and skilled visas are generally designed for people overseas, hoping to work or make investments in Australia. They aim to address skill shortages, strengthen business expertise and discover innovation and talent, without harming the existing labour force.

  • Length of stay: 4 years and 3 months
  • Permission to work: Yes
  • Cost: From A$600
  • Eligibility: Requires nomination by Australian government organisation

The Business Innovation and Investment Provisional Visa (Subclass 188) is one type of working and skilled visa which lets individuals work in Australia. Prices generally start from AUD600. It’s a flexible option with five different streams available for applicants (Business Innovation, Investor, Significant Investor, Premium Investor, Entrepreneur).  Essentially, it’s a matter of figuring out whether you’re an appropriate fit for any one of these sub-categories. Generally, the visa is only an option to consider if you are interested in owning an existing or upcoming business, looking for investment opportunities or have intentions of carrying out entrepreneurial activities to help develop a product or service in Australia. Now don’t forget, to receive this visa you’ll need to be nominated by an Australian government organisation. If successful though, you’ll be able to stay in Australia for 4 years and 3 months on this Subclass 188 visa.

Find out more here.

  • Length of stay: Permanent
  • Permission to work: Yes
  • Cost: FromA$405
  • Eligiblity: Requires nomination by Australian government organisation

The Business Innovation and Investment Permanent Visa (Subclass 888) is another option you could consider. It’s like the Subclass 188 visa mentioned above, in that you’ll be able to engage in business ownership, investment or entrepreneurial activities in Australia. You’ll also need to show evidence that an Australian government organisation nominates and supports the activity. However, the most noteworthy difference is that you will be offered permanent residency if successful. There’s a pretty solid list of criteria and requirements within each given stream though, which applicants must ensure they satisfy. Understandably, because it offers permanent residency, the costs for this visa are higher too, generally starting from around AUD2405. Remember, you’ll be able to work and study in Australia, enrol in Australia’s Medicare health system and later become an Australian citizen if eligible!

Find out more here.

  • Length of stay: Permanent
  • Permission to work: Yes
  • Cost: From A$7290
  • Eligibility: Requires nomination by Australian government organisation

Another working and skilled, permanent visa we’ve decided to include in this article is the Business Talent (Permanent) Visa (Subclass 132). The Business Talent Visa allows individuals to work in Australia and develop a new or existing business if they are nominated by an Australian government organisation or agency. You will either need to be the holder of assets valuing at least AUD 1.5 million and a business turnover of $3 million or hold funds of around $1 million from a member of the Australian Venture Capital Association Limited (AVCAL). Permanent residency in Australia will mean you can work, study, enrol in Medicare and possibly become an Australian citizen.

Find out more here.

Visitor Visas

Visitor visas generally allow people to come to Australia for a holiday, whilst also being able to experience other benefits in the country.

  • Length of stay: 3 months per visit, for up to a year
  • Permission to work: No
  • Cost: A$20 for eligible online applicants
  • Eligibility: Including but not limited to Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, Republic of Korea Singapore, Taiwan (Check to see full list of eligible countries)

Now visitor visas are a little bit to the working and skilled visas we’ve just mentioned. For instance, the Electronic Travel Authority does not give you permission to work in Australia. Yes you read that right. You won’t be able to work here! However, you’ll be allowed to establish general business or employment enquiries, investigate, negotiate, review business contracts, or attend seminars, conferences or trade fairs. Hence, we’ve still considered it a valid option for start ups and entrepreneurs hoping to really just initially scope out the opportunities and connections in Australia, before making any firm grounded decisions. With the ETA visa, you can make numerous visits to Australia for up to a year. However, each visit cannot exceed any more than 3 months. The important thing to remember though is that only certain passport holders are eligible, so make sure to check your eligibility.

Find out more here.

  • Length of stay: 3 months per visit for up to a year
  • Permission to work: No
  • Cost: Free
  • Eligibility: Select European countries

The E- visitor (Subclass 651), pretty much has the same basic features and factors as the ETA (Subclass 601) just mentioned. You will be able to establish business or employment enquiries, negotiate business contracts, or attend seminars, conferences or trade fairs. But get this, the E-visitor visa is free! However, there’s a catch—it’s only available for a select few European countries so make sure to check you have a valid passport.

Find out more here.

  • Length of stay: Up to a year
  • Permission to work: Yes
  • Cost: From A$450
  • Eligibility: Including but not limited to the People’s Republic of China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam (Check to see full list of eligible countries)

Like the name suggests, the work and holiday visa allows individuals to both work and have a holiday in Australia. It is recommended for those that are least eighteen but not yet thirty one years old, with no dependent child. It offers a great opportunity to become more familiar with the socio- cultural and economic environment within Australia. Essentially, it’d be a productive way for entrepreneurs to gauge the opportunities of setting up business in Australia.

Find out more here

  • Length of stay: Up to a year
  • Permission to work: No
  • Cost: From A$450
  • Eligibility: Including but not limited to Hong Kong, Japan, Republic of Korea, Taiwan (Check to see full list of eligible countries)

The working holiday visa pretty much has the same basic features and factors as the work and holiday visa (subclass 462) above. That’s right, you can enjoy the synergy effects of both work and a holiday to really understand the Australian business landscape. However, it’s important to note that you will not be able apply to for this subclass 417 visa if you have previously obtained the subclass 462 visa.

Find out more here.

Do you need more information?

Hopefully, this article helped you become more familiar with the various Australian visa options available to you. Please note that this is not an exhaustive list and we recommend you speak to a certified immigration agent to seek further help. Shoot us an email if you’d like to learn more about the visa agents we work with at Haymarket HQ. 

Disclaimer: Please don’t rely on our information alone. Haymarket HQ and the author are not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. All information on this site is provided “as is” with no guarantee of completeness, accuracy, timeliness or of the results obtained from the use of this information. 

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