On 22 November 2018, South Australia (SA), in partnership with the Australian government, announced a new pilot program: the Supporting Innovation in South Australia (SISA) visa program. It’s designed to attract foreign seed-stage entrepreneurs and promote opportunities for them to grow their business idea in South Australia. This article explains the program and the application process.

What Business Ideas is SA Interested In?

SA is especially interested in business ideas that focus on emerging industries, such as:

  • space;
  • cybersecurity;
  • big data;
  • defence;
  • agribusiness;
  • medical technology; and
  • robotics.

The program intends to drive strategic entrepreneurship and innovation to SA, with the purpose of contributing to local businesses, innovation and business development and creating more jobs for local workers.

Who Can Apply?

Anyone who is working on an innovative early-stage business can apply for this visa program. However, you will need to be able to demonstrate an in-depth knowledge, expertise or track record in the product or service you are targeting.

Your business concept also needs to be clear and demonstrate:

You do not, however, need capital investment or previous experience.

Ideally, you would already have a minimum viable product (MVP) and some demonstrable traction or market fit. SA will give priority to proposals in the following sectors:

  • defence and space;
  • digital, including cybersecurity, big data and blockchain;
  • food, wine and agtech;
  • health and medical technology;
  • robotics; and
  • media and film.

However, the following businesses are not eligible:

  • cafés and restaurants;
  • consulting firms;
  • employment agencies;
  • export or import;
  • franchises;
  • foot reflexology;
  • massage parlours;
  • acupuncture;
  • traditional Chinese medicine;
  • herbal dispensing;
  • geomancy or Fengshui; and
  • retail.

How Do I Apply?

To participate in SISA, you will need to apply for the temporary activity (subclass 408) visa under the Australian Government Endorsed Event stream. Additionally, the SA government (Department for Trade, Tourism and Investment) needs to endorse you.

Step 1: Seek Support For Your Application

You must seek support from either a SA innovation eco-system service provider or the Office of the Chief Entrepreneur.

However, you will have priority processing if you receive support from a SA innovation eco-system service provider. 

Step 2: Apply for SA Government Endorsement

There are limited endorsement places available for this visa. Before applying for an endorsement, you will need to provide details of your:

  • proposed business idea; and
  • English language competency.

In addition, you have to show you have sufficient funds to support yourself while developing your business idea.

Step 3: Apply for a Temporary Activity (Subclass 408) Visa

If you obtain SA government endorsement, you can then apply for the temporary activity (subclass 408) visa under the Australian Government Endorsed Event stream if you meet all of the Department of Home Affairs’ criteria.

Some general requirements include that you:

  • have an innovative business idea which is supported by a detailed business plan;
  • demonstrate a commitment to SA and its innovation sector for the duration of your visa;
  • maintain primary residence in SA and contribute to the local economy;
  • are under 45-years-of-age at the time of your application;
  • meet the English proficiency requirements;
  • have sufficient funds to support yourself and any dependents to live in SA;
  • meet health and character requirements; and
  • have adequate health insurance.

How Long Will the Application Take?

Processing times for this visa will vary due to individual circumstances.

Therefore, to avoid lengthy processing times, make sure your application includes all of the documents in the document checklist.

How Long Can I Stay in SA?

Regardless of when your visa is granted, the SISA visa will expire in November 2021.

For example, if your visa is granted in November 2018, your visa will end in November 2021, making it three years. However, if you are granted a visa in November 2020, your visa will still end in November 2021, making it one year.

The SA government will accept applications up until November 2020.

Can I Then Apply for Permanent Residency?

The temporary activity (subclass 408) visa is a temporary visa only. If you would like to apply for permanent residency, you will need to do so under the current available pathways to permanent residency.

However, if you can meet the relevant requirements after your period of temporary stay, you may be eligible to apply for the permanent residency visa.

Can I Bring My Family Members?

You may include your family members in your application anytime before the Department of Home Affairs has made a decision. If you haven’t done this, your family members may also apply to join you in Australia at a later stage as a subsequent entrant. Upon applying, your family members must also meet health and character requirements.

Your dependents may stay, work and study in Australia for the lifetime of their visa, although there may be some restrictions.

Key Takeaways

The new SISA visa program is attractive for entrepreneurs with innovative business ideas who want to grow their business in SA. If you are interested in applying for this visa program, you need to act quickly since the program is only valid until November 2021. The longer you have to stay in SA, the longer you will have to develop and grow your business idea.

Staying longer may also mean that you have a better chance at meeting the eligibility requirements of other visas. This may allow you to continue to stay in Australia after the expiry of your SISA. If you’re interested in applying for a SISA visa, contact LegalVision’s immigration lawyers on 1300 544 755 or fill out the form on this page.

Natasha Bahari
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