As part of the Government’s efforts in attracting foreign entrepreneurs with innovative ideas to take them forward and to launch seed stage startups in Australia, it has rolled out the ​Supporting Innovation in South Australia​ (SISA) as a pilot program.

The Australian entrepreneur visa programme, which was launched on 21 November 2018 and will run to November 2021, aims to encourage innovative business ventures in Australia. The South Australia entrepreneur visa has been designed based on the view that startups are important for the future prosperity of the economy. These ventures create new jobs, drive innovation, and offer opportunities to diversify the economy.

The entrepreneur visa South Australia programme has three main characteristics:

  • It complements existing visas for startups and entrepreneurs in the Business Innovation and Investment program (BIIP);
  • It drives entrepreneurialism in South Australia, generates employment opportunities and adds value to the South Australian innovation ecosystem; and
  • It ensures that Australia remains open and competitive in attracting the best and brightest entrepreneurial talent, which are needed to transform innovative ideas into commercial reality.

Please be aware that this programme is currently closed to new applications until further notice.

How Does The Australian Entrepreneur Visa Programme Work?

The startup visa Australia is being rolled out as a ‘SISA Event’ through the Subclass 408 Temporary Activity visa.

The entrepreneur visa South Australia is a temporary visa for seed-stage entrepreneurs who seek to develop their business concept in South Australia as part of the SISA pilot programme.

The South Australia entrepreneur visa ‘SISA event’ enables entrepreneurs, both local and from overseas, to share their experience, skill and talent; to exchange their ideas; learn from one another; collaborate and network. These activities all contribute to facilitating, encouraging and growing innovation systems in Australia.

By engaging in activities including master classes, networking events, learning how to pitch ideas, and having access to financial and legal advice, the entrepreneur visa south Australia programme supports and seeks to encourage entrepreneurs to help them move forward with their innovative ideas and launch startups in South Australia.

The programme seeks to facilitate an environment which allows successful overseas and local entrepreneurs to mentor and guide developing entrepreneurs. It also provides opportunities for investors to identify opportunities to support emerging and growing businesses.

How Can You Apply For An Australian Entrepreneur Visa?

To be eligible for the Subclass 408 visa under the SISA event, applicants must meet Department of Home Affairs (the Department) standard requirements.

Applicants must also meet the following additional requirements in order to qualify for the South Australia entrepreneur visa:

  • be endorsed the South Australian Government to participate in the programme;
  • provide a supporting business plan when applying for the visa;
  • be under 45 years of age at time of application; and
  • demonstrate a minimum Vocational English competency level.

Applicants must continue to be involved in the South Australian innovation sector for the duration of their visa term, which is issued for a period of up to three years.

Note that the term over which the Subclass 408 may be issued is actually for up to four years, or for the duration of the event. The visa term under the SISA programme is therefore shorter than the maximum allowable period that may otherwise apply to the Subclass 408 visa.

What Does the Subclass 408 Visa Allow You To Do?

As a South Australia entrepreneur visa holder, you can come to Australia to do specific types of work on a short-term, temporary basis. More specifically, this visa allows you to take part in the SISA event for which you have been endorsed by Immigration South Australia (SA).

As a Subclass 408 visa holder, you are permitted to travel to and from Australia on an unlimited basis for the visa term (subject to the current COVID-19 travel restrictions).

The primary purpose of the Subclass 408) visa under the SISA programme is for the applicant to work on SISA related activities (e.g a start-up). This may be paid work, either as part of the start-up’s structure itself, or as part of work in South Australia’s start-up/innovation ecosystem (e.g. talks, mentoring, etc.)

The applicant can undertake unlimited paid work in connection with SISA activities.

The applicant may also engage in up to 20 hours per week on other types of work which supports them to participate in the SISA programme.

What Industry Sectors Are Prioritised Under The SISA Programme?

Applicants must be seed-stage entrepreneurs who have an innovative idea and have a project proposal on how they intend to further their concept. Proposals in the following industry sectors will be given priority:

  • Defence and Space;
  • Digital, including Cyber Security, Big Data, and Blockchain;
  • Food, Wine and AgTech;
  • Health and Medical Technology;
  • Robotics; and
  • Media and Film.

What Is Required To Qualify For The Entrepreneur Visa South Australia?

To be eligible for the Subclass 408 visa under the SISA programme, applicants must meet two sets of requirements:

  1. Immigration SA requirements to receive endorsement; and
  2. Department requirements for valid visa lodgement and grant criteria under the Australian Government Endorsed Event (AGEE) stream.

Let us now explore these requirements further.

Immigration SA Requirements

To qualify for Immigration SA endorsement under the SISA programme, applicants must meet the below criteria:

Residency Requirement

If the Subclass 408 visa is granted, the applicant must meet all specified obligations, which are to:

  • Observe and participate in the schedule planned for the applicant by the service provider (if apply under this pathway – all participation arrangements will be between the applicant and the service provider); and/or
  • Actively participate in the South Australian Government’s planned innovation and entrepreneurial events relevant to the project, idea or proposal (e.g. SouthStart Conference, Entrepreneurs’ Week if apply under the ‘direct’ pathway);
  • Participate in surveys related to SISA that may be conducted by the service provider or the South Australian Government;
  • Create a business that has the potential to become a sustainable high-growth start-up, with the future potential to employ South Australians;
  • Assist in building the capacity and capability of the South Australian business community through engagement with the local entrepreneurial and innovation community; and
  • Maintain primary residence in South Australia and contribute to the South Australian economy and community throughout the visa term.

To meet the residency requirement, the applicant must also:

  • continue to be involved in the South Australian innovation sector for the duration of the Subclass 408 visa term; and
  • maintain primary residence in South Australia and contribute to the South Australian economy and community throughout the period of the visa term.

Age Requirement

The applicant must be aged under 45 years of age at the time of the endorsement decision and subsequent visa application to the Department.

English Language Requirement

The applicant must demonstrate a minimum Vocational English competency level.

Current Visa

If the applicant currently holds one of the below visa subclasses, they will not be eligible for Immigration SA endorsement:

  • Student visa (including Subclasses 500, 570, 571, 572, 573, 574);
  • Subclass 403 Temporary Work (International Relations) visa; or
  • Subclass 771 Transit visa.

If the applicant currently holds a Subclass 485 Temporary Graduate visa, they must be presently engaged in a structured program offered by one of the identified South Australian innovation eco-system providers and the provider organisation supports the application to be considered.

What Business Types Are Not Eligible For Endorsement By The South Australian Government Under The SISA Programme?

  • Cafés and restaurants;
  • Consulting firms/companies;
  • Employment agencies;
  • Export/import businesses/companies;
  • Franchises;
  • Foot reflexology;
  • Massage parlours;
  • Acupuncture;
  • Traditional Chinese medicine;
  • Herbal dispensing businesses;
  • Geomancy/fengshui business; and
  • Retail,

Have An Innovative Idea (Business Concept, Idea Or Proposal) With A Supporting Business Plan;

To be eligible for Immigration SA endorsement under the SISA programme, the applicant must meet the below criteria:

  • Demonstrate in-depth knowledge, expertise or track record in the product or service which the applicant is targeting;
  • The business concept demonstrates a clear, competitive advantage, genuine innovation, novel intellectual property or high barriers to entry;
  • The applicant commits to developing a start-up project in South Australia in any industry sector. Note that priority will be given to proposals in the industry sectors/areas as outlined above;
  • The applicant must have secured the support of a selected service provider which has reviewed and approves of the project proposal, idea or concept (Immigration SA will forward the application to the selected service provider);
  • The project has strong potential to create local employment and export revenue for South Australia; and
  • The project will have at least 50% of its assets and at least 50% of staff located in South Australia during the period of the visa.

Financial Capacity

Applicants must ensure they have sufficient funds for settlement when they arrive in South Australia, as outlined in the table below (these figures are for 12 months living expenses in South Australia).

Number of applicants 


Offshore Applicant: 


Combined cash & assets requirement 

Onshore Applicant: 


Combined cash & assets requirement 

Individual applicant (primary applicant)


At least $30,000


At least $20,000


Primary applicant plus one secondary applicant (e.g. partner)


At least $40,000


At least $25,000


Additional secondary applicants (e.g. children)


An additional $5,000 per secondary applicant


An additional $5,000 per secondary applicant



Although evidence of financial capacity is not required, Immigration SA may ask for additional information or evidence at any stage. It is recommended that the applicant does not dispose of any assets before the visa is granted by the Department.

How Do You Apply For Immigration SA Endorsement?

Applicants need to choose to apply under one of the following endorsement options:

  • South Australian innovation eco-system service provider; or
  • The Office of the Chief Entrepreneur.

Applications lodged under option one (service provider) will be subject to priority processing.

Option 1: South Australian Innovation Eco-System Service Provider

You must select a service provider for assessment. This should be thoroughly researched to help you to decide which provider is right for you to progress your innovative idea in South Australia. See the list of service providers below for more information.

Applicants are advised to carefully read through each provider’s descriptions of their services, and, if you need more, contact them to find our about programs, requirements, areas, industries and/or sectors they focus on, their model, and expectations of participants in their programs.

It is recommended that applicants seek initial feedback on their business idea from the provider identified, by sending an initial email enquiry to discuss the business concept, idea or proposal.

Once a service provider has been selected, applicants should send an email to the provider to briefly explain their business concept and ask if they will accept and support the business concept/application.

Once they have completed their research, received a positive response and chosen a provider as their supporting agency, the next step is to submit a formal application to Immigration SA, provided they meet the service provider’s pre-requisite entry requirements for their mentoring and/or support programs.

Immigration SA will then forward the business concept, idea or proposal to the service provider selected (this can take up to 8 weeks to be assessed).

If the application is successful, the South Australian Government will issue a Letter of Endorsement, which will be valid for 60 days. The applicant must then lodge an application for a Subclass 408 visa to the Department within this period.

South Australian Innovation Eco-System Service Providers

The providers are:

  • Innovation & Collaboration Centre (ICC);
  • The Moonshine Lab;
  • The New Venture Institute (NVI); and
  • ThincLab.

You can access information about each of these service providers (including their contact details) on the Immigration SA website.

Option 2: The Office Of The Chief Entrepreneur

Applications by the Office of the Chief Entrepreneur are assessed quarterly (by a panel).

If the application is successful, the South Australian Government will issue a Letter of Endorsement, which will be valid for 60 days. The applicant must then lodge an application for a Subclass 408 visa to the Department within this period.

Department Requirements

The application must be lodged online (except in certain specified circumstances where a paper form is permitted).

The main visa grant requirements are outlined below:

  • The applicant must be approved by the South Australian Government to take part in the SISA programme;
  • The applicant must not intend to engage in activities that will have adverse consequences for employment or training opportunities, or conditions of employment, for Australian citizens or Australian permanent residents;
  • The applicant has adequate arrangements for health insurance during the period of their intended stay in Australia;
  • The applicant genuinely intends to stay temporarily in Australia for the purpose for which the visa is granted, having regard to:
  1. whether the applicant has complied substantially with the conditions to which their last substantive visa, or any subsequent bridging visa (where applicable) was subject;
  2. whether the applicant intends to comply with the conditions to which the Subclass 408 visa would be subject; and
  3. any other relevant matter;
  • the applicant has adequate means to support themselves and any dependents travelling to Australia (or has access to adequate support) during their intended stay in Australia;
  • demonstrate a minimum Vocational English competency level.
  • Public Interest Criteria (PIC), including health and character;
  • Special Return Criteria (SRC); and
  • has a good immigration record.

Where Must The Applicant Be Located To Apply For And Be Granted A Subclass 408 Visa?

The applicant can be onshore or outside Australia to apply for and be granted a South Australian Entrepreneur Visa.

Can Family Members Also Qualify For the South Australian Entrepreneur Visa?

Yes, eligible members of the applicant’s family unit may also qualify for the Subclass 408 visa under the SISA programme as secondary applicants, provided they meet specified requirements, including health and character criteria.

They can apply by making a combined application with the primary visa applicant. They can also be added to the application at any time before a decision is made by the Department. They can also apply as a ‘subsequent entrant’ after the primary visa applicant has been granted the visa.

The applicants’ dependents will have unlimited work and study rights.

Local fees for school-aged dependents at public primary and secondary schools in South Australia will be payable. If dependents are studying at university, they will be liable for international student fees.

Get More Information

If you are interested in finding out more about other visa programmes which are available to potential applicants, which aim to foster and encourage innovation in Australia by seeking to attract the best and brightest to help create a more prosperous nation, please refer to the following articles:

Our Global Talent Employer Sponsored Pilot Programme is now permanent article provides an outline of the Global Talent Employer Sponsored programme (GTES), to enable employers to sponsor overseas workers for highly-skilled niche positions that cannot be filled by Australian workers through other standard visa programs.

Our article on the Global Talent Independent Visa provides information on the Subclass 858 permanent residence visa, which is designed for applicants who have an internationally recognised record of exceptional and outstanding achievement in an eligible area or who have provided specialised assistance to the Australian Government in security matters

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Australian Government – Department of Home Affairs – COVID-19 and the border – Travel restrictions and exemptions

Australian Government – Department of Home Affairs – Immigration and citizenship – English language – Vocational English

Immigration South Australia (SA) – Skilled and Business Migration – Business Migrants – Supporting Information – South Australian Innovation Eco-system Providers