New life in New York?

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Have visa, will travel. The US has emerged as yet another destination for travel-hungry Australian finance professionals, adding to the talent shortage that is plaguing the country in the accounting and financial markets.

The signing last year of the Australia-US Free Trade Agreement means that young Australian professionals no longer need to enter the green card lottery to gain visas to the US. Instead, the E-3 visa programme has been expanded from 900 Australians to 10,500, sparking a rush of applicants seeking experience in the major financial centres such as New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. Spouses are also able to find work with the E-3 visa.

"It is having a significant impact on 25 to 35 year-old professionals in all fields," says Ian Wilson of Boyden Partners. "I heard someone describe it as the new vacuum cleaner for our talent."

Australian finance professionals have traditionally headed to Europe, particularly the UK, or more recently to Asia, to gain their international experience.

Adam Kolokotsas, of Tanner Menzies, says the new visa arrangements are particularly attractive to investment bankers. "The typical profile is a single male executive in his early 30s, keen to broaden his experience," he says.

Jonathan Harris, an executive from recruiting firm Talent2, says Australians are starting to follow the example of New Zealanders, who have long been split between Europe and the US as destinations. "Mostly we see it in the post-grad or post qualification market."

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