Today my immigration lawyer told me that the general permanent immigration program for skilled people has been put on hold, applications won't be processed for years. About one year ago when I quit my job develop my own software products, this wasn't the case. My hope was to get over the time as tourist/business visitor while developing and not doing active business. Then, 2 years in the country and a job for over a year would have given my some extra points for the general immigration process, which was doable within 2 months as I heard from successful immigrants. Well all that has changed because of the GFC (in which Australia didn't participate much). Like everywhere, the media controlled fear of job losses lead to more nationalism and populistic politicians had to protect the country from those parasitic immigrants. Now, being one of those parasites - I am not eligible for medicare or any other public help, have spent all of my own and borrowed European money from family and friends in Australia - I don't fit into the system. There is simply no visa solution for an aspiring entrepreneur, even if he only spends his own money and and/or brings foreign investment into the country. Australia will gladly take millions of foreign investments but only employ Australian workers. The entrepreneur who created the company and brought the money to Australia won't be allowed to remain in Australia. His own company can't sponsor his or any others visa, because it would have to show a track record of training Australian employees, which isn't possible by definition since it is a startup. The training rule is there, to make sure that a company takes effort to employ Australians and not just fill the jobs with parasites. The only solution for an entrepreneur to get accepted to Australia is to be already really, really rich or to be a senior executive with long experience, which - by Australian rules - is only possible by working in a large corporation (oh, and you have to show that you are in possession of 250 or 500k, depending on the visa).
So beside what I call "money visas" and big corporation involvement, there is no legal way to be a small scale foreign entrepreneur in Australia.
Update: Read Never be negative, get a mastermind
Now, my options are to leave Australia and bootstrap from Austria, or to work in a job until I get a permanent residency. Isn't it weird that instead of working on creating jobs, I have to grab one Australian job to remain here?
I have made the decision for myself that my life is to short to trade time for money only. If I will take a job opportunity, it has to give me the possibility to add substantial value and to learn and grow by working on meaningful challenges.
There are not many employers out there who are smart enough to grasp, that this is not only the single way to motivate people like me but also to keep pure time traders happy, motivated and loyal in their jobs.
See my posting Tony Hsieh at SXSWi 2009 for more about this.