Innovation and Early Careers Skills Exchange Pilot : A new visa pathway for UK nationals
As part of its commitment to implementing the terms of the Australia-UK Free Trade Agreement the Australian government has unveiled a new visa program for UK nationals called the Innovation and Early Careers Skills Exchange Pilot (IECSEP).
Employers with offices in the UK who bring employees on exchange or those considering hiring a UK national with under 2 years of work experience (and so not eligible for a subclass 482 visa) may wish to consider using the IECSEP program.
After reviewing of the IECSEP program the main benefits of this over existing visa pathways are:
- The visa application charge is significantly less than the subclass 482 visa (a long-term work visa);
- There is no Skilling Australians Fund Levy to pay;
- UK national aged over 35 year who are not eligible for a Working Holiday Visa can apply;
What is the IECSEP and how many places are available?
The IECSEP program is administered by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and allows UK nationals to obtain employment experience in Australia.
Within the program there are two streams: Innovation stream and Early Careers stream. 1-year visas are being offered for those in the Early Careers stream while up to 3-year visas are being offered to those in the Innovation stream.
For the 2023/2024 program year there will be 1000 places available. In the 2024/2025 program year there will be 2000 places available.
What are the eligibility requirement?
Applicants in both streams are required to demonstrate that they have at least $5,000 in saving to support their living expenses while in Australia plus sufficient funds to purchase a flight back to the UK. Each stream also has additional eligibility criteria. These are described below.
The eligibility requirements for the Innovation stream are:
- have a demonstrated contribution to innovation; and
- be highly skilled; and
- be highly experienced; and
- have prospective employment in Australia in an occupation defined at the ANZSCO Skill Level 1
The eligibility requirements for the Early Careers stream are:
- be aged between 21 and 45 (inclusive) at the time of application; and
- hold tertiary qualifications; and
- have worked for at least 3 months in their current role; and
- have prospective employment in Australia in an occupation defined at the ANZSCO Skill Levels 1, 2 or 3; and
- the prospective employment in Australia must be relevant to the applicant’s field of work in their current role
How do my employees apply?
To obtain a visa under the IECSEP program an applicant must:
- Have a contract of employment with an Australian organisation
- Express interest in the IECSEP program through DFAT’s website
- Be invited to apply for a visa through the IECSEP program by DFAT
- Apply for a subclass 403 (Government Agreement Stream) visa with the Department of Home Affairs.
Are there any time limitations?
The DFAT is only accepting expressions of interest in the IESCEP program until 20 November 2023. We recommend employers work quickly to identify candidates from the UK who may be eligible.
No places are available for family members of applicants. Family members wanting to migrate with the applicant will need to apply for separate visas.
How much does it cost?
Expressing interest in the IESCEP program is free. If your employee is invited to apply for subclass 403 (Government Agreement Stream) visa the cost is $355. This is substantially less expensive than the visa application fees for long-term work visas (subclass 482 visa) which range from $1,455 to $3,035 for the main applicant.
If your company would like further information about the IESCEP and how it can benefit from this please reach out to Nevett Ford Lawyers by phone at +61 3 9614 7111 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org