A temporary migrant who can turn $50,000 into a business employing 15 people deserves to be a permanent resident, shadow treasurer Chris Bowen says.

Temporary migrants who set up a small business should be allowed to become permanent residents, a senior federal Labor frontbencher says.

As the Gillard government’s immigration minister in 2012, Chris Bowen introduced the significant investor visa, which enabled skilled migrants to have their visa applications fast-tracked if they invested $5 million in Australia.

In his present role as shadow treasurer, Mr Bowen is floating the idea of allowing foreign entrepreneurs to become permanent residents if they establish a small business within three years.

He told a Queensland Media Club luncheon that someone on a temporary visa could be asked to demonstrate how they could turn $50,000 into a company employing 15 people.

If their start-up plan worked, they would be given a permanent visa.

“We can do better when it comes to attracting people with the entrepreneurial spirit,” Mr Bowen said.

“If you’ve managed to take $50,000 and turn it into a company, which is employing 15 people in three years, I reckon you’re going to make a pretty important contribution to the Australian economy going forward.

“New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Ireland and Singapore, among other nations, have all introduced specific entrepreneur visas and Labor believes in going down this road as well.”

Mr Bowen also flagged the need to change existing laws to allow crowd source funding.

Globally, large numbers of people are raising money through the internet and social media but the Australian Securities and Investments Commission doesn’t regulate this practice.

“In Australia crowd source funding is effectively illegal,” he said.