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New Visa Pilot Under the Australia-UK Free Trade Agreement (AUKFTA)

Written by: Alex Kaufman


As part of the Australia-United Kingdom Free Trade Agreement (AUKFTA), the Innovation and Early Careers Skills Exchange Pilot (IECSEP) provides new opportunities for UK citizens to work in Australia. The IECSEP aims to build on the existing connections between Australia and the UK, by establishing a new and streamlined mobility pathway for early career professionals and demonstrated innovators from the United Kingdom.

Two categories available for UK citizens are available under the IECSEP:

  • The Early Careers Skills Stream, which will allow participants to undertake a short-term placement, secondment, or intra-corporate transfer for up to one year in Australia in a position relevant to their field of work in the sending organisation; and,
  • The Innovation Stream, which will allow participants with a demonstrated contribution to innovation to undertake opportunities for up to three years in Australia.

There are a limited number (1,000) of visas available under the IECSEP in the first-year pilot. This will be doubled to 2,000 in the second year of operation, during which time the program will be reviewed. The first IECSEP application round will open at 9 am (BST) on Monday 25 September 2023 (6 pm AEST).

To be eligible for the program streams, applicants must be:

  • Early Careers Skills Stream – UK citizens aged between 21 and 45 years of age at the time of application, hold tertiary qualifications, and have worked for a minimum of three months in the home organisation (including as graduate trainees).
  • Innovation Stream – Highly experienced and skilled UK citizens from any sector (and any age), with a demonstrated contribution to innovation in areas including Research and Development Renewable Energy Artificial Intelligence Medical Technology FinTech AgriTech Audio-visual and Cultural industries.

For both categories, applicants must have a letter of offer or contract of employment and provide other relevant supporting documentation.

We can assist applicants to apply to the Australian Department of Home Affairs for a Temporary Work (International Relations) visa (subclass 403). The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade will then issue successful applicants with a Letter of Support, which must be presented to the Department of Home Affairs at the time of application.

How can employers and businesses benefit?

The IECSEP recognises the importance of innovation and skills mobility to the economies of Australia and the United Kingdom. The IECSEP will provide Australian employers with an opportunity to access innovative and early-career professionals from the UK, through the pilot of a new and streamlined temporary mobility pathway from the UK to Australia. Note that the pilot program is not currently a direct pathway to Australian Permanent Residence, but may contribute towards eligibility in other programs.

The Innovation stream is intended to provide a unique opportunity for highly experienced and skilled UK innovators to work in Australian organisations for up to three years, including through intra-corporate transfers. Whereas the Early Careers stream is intended to give Australian organisations the opportunity to participate in 12-month secondments, placements, or intra-corporate transfers of tertiary qualified UK professionals who are early in their career.

If you are an Australian organisation with a suitable UK candidate in mind or a UK national who would like to express an interest in this unique opportunity, please contact us today with details of the proposed assignment.

For any questions regarding this update or any further immigration matters, please email us at to arrange an online consultation.

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