The federal government will establish a new, high-skilled migration stream that will fast-track visas for 5000 of the world’s best and brightest every year with the aim of entrenching high-tech industries in Australia.
Immigration Minister David Coleman will announce the Global Talent Independent Program today and will seek the advice of a small panel of Australia’s high achievers in the fields of academia and business over which industries to pursue.
Mr Coleman said the Home Affairs department has already sent officials to Berlin and others will depart next month to Boston, Singapore, Shanghai and Dubai to start spruiking the program and recruiting talent.
They will be tasked with scouting and recruiting people with advanced degrees or experience from leading global institutions such as MIT, Stanford and Oxford.
Potential sectors that will be targeted include agricultural technology, fintech and quantum computing.
“It’s the first ever sustained effort to recruit people overseas through our permanent migration program,” Mr Coleman said.
The 5000 migrants will not be additional to the annual immigration cap of 160,000 implemented by Scott Morrison. They will be incorporated in the current annual skilled migration cap of 70,000 which is part of the overall intake of 160,000.
Mr Coleman, who will detail the scheme in a speech on Tuesday night to The Sydney Institute, said the plan was to focus the visa in no more than five or six key industries to ensure they flourished, rather than spread them too thin.
“The goal of the Global Talent program is to help develop Australian companies in high-growth industries,” Mr Coleman said.
“Successful companies in high growth industries create large numbers of local jobs and more jobs over time.
“We’ll be focusing on the biggest opportunities for Australia over the coming years.
“Highly skilled migrants often develop ideas, products or services that enable local companies to grow, and employ more Australians. By attracting the best and the brightest, we will help to ensure that Australian companies can compete in a global and rapidly changing environment.”
Typically, it can take months or eve years for residency visas to be issued to even skilled migrants. Mr Coleman said that under the new scheme, the process would be done in weeks.
The usual due diligence checks would be done but otherwise entry would be fast-racked and the migrants would have a specific contact within the department handling their case, rather than a call centre.
Mr Coleman said that over time the scheme “has the potential to have a transformative impact on the Australian economy”.
To lure peope to Australia, they would have to be assured there were job opportunities that could be built on.
The announcement builds on an employer sponsored, high-skilled schemeannounced last week by Mr Coleman.
Under the Global-Talent Employer Sponsored (GTES) program, businesses and start-ups will be given streamlined access to the skilled or talented workers they need.
The scheme was made permanent despite a 12 months pilot resulting in just over 20 workers employed from overseas.
Under the program, two visa streams are available to fill specialised positions. Established businesses with a turnover of $4 million can apply for up to 20 visas for foreign workers annually, while start-ups in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics field can apply for five.
Twenty-three firms have struck agreements of up to five years with the government to bring workers into the country under the streamlined scheme. These include Rio Tinto, Coles, Atlassian and Cochlear.
Access to the GTES is monitored by an advisory panel which is chaired by Alex McCauley and endorses eligible start-ups.
Similarly, Mr Coleman said the government would be advised by a panel of about three members on which experts and sectors to target under the Global Talent Independent Program.
It is understood eminent Australians in the fields of business and academia have been approached but have yet to be locked in.
The two visa schemes represent a subtle shift in immigration under the Morrison government towards a more business friendly approach.
Under pressure over Australia’s burgeoning population growth, Mr Morrison resisted calls to cut the immigration cap hard and defaulted on the side of the argument that strong population growth is good for economic growth.
In March this year, he ”cut” the annual intake from 190,000 to 160,000 for this and the next four years but the 190,000 was only ever a cap.
In the previous financial year, when the 190,000 cap applied, only 160,000 people came in. This meant the reduced cap resulted in no real cut to the annual intake.
At the time, Mr Morrison reassured business.
“If we were to take the figure below 160,000 that would have had a direct fiscal impact on the budget,” he said.
“This is the nominated level … where we would not experience that impact on the budget.
“It makes sense to take it back to the levels on or about that we’ve been projecting at and experiencing. “
The government also expanded the total number of regional skilled migrant visas – both employer nominated and state and territory nominated programs – from a combined 14,000 to 23,000 places.
Recipients would have to spend at least three years in a region to be eligible for permanent residency. Regions are defined as anywhere but Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, and the Gold Coast.
By: Financial Review