On 4 November 2019, the Global Talent Independent (GTI) program was officially launched to provide a streamlined, priority pathway for highly skilled and talent individuals to obtain Australian permanent residency.
This program is another layer of the “Global Talent” initiative that the Department of Home Affairs (Department) have rolled out to support innovation in Australia, which joins the recently renamed “Global Talent – Employer Sponsored” (GTES) scheme. You can read a general summary of these two schemes here.
This blog is regularly updated as further information becomes available to us, so please check back for further updates.
The below describes what this scheme is, what visa it utilises, and how to apply.
What is the Global Talent – Independent program?
The GTI program is designed to attract skilled migrants at the top of specific key sectors to Australia. It operates through an additional layer on top of an existing visa – being the Distinguished Talent visa (discussed further below).
The GTI program involves the Department taking on a more active role by engaging “Global Talent Officers” (GTO) in key locations overseas to invite targeted individuals to apply for an Australian visa. GTOs will work with countries in their regions and attend key events/expos to promote this program.
Individuals interested in this program, should submit an Expression of Interest (EOI) with the Department of Home Affairs (Department) to be invited to apply for this visa. A successful candidate would receive a unique identifier and be invited to apply for a Distinguished Talent visa. Their visa application would receive priority processing (around 2 months). For the 2020/21 migration programme year, 15,000 spots have been allocated which is a significant increase from the 5,000 positions allocated last year.
In particular, the Department aim to target the following 10 sectors (set out in Direction 89):
- Agri-food and AgTech
- Health Industries
- Defence, Advanced Manufacturing and Space
- Circular economy
- Infrastructure and tourism
- Financial services and Fintech
The Department are also looking to target certain student cohorts with research that is internationally recognised and relevant to those targeted industries, including those who have recently (in the last 3 years) completed a PhD or (or are close to submitting their thesis).
What is a Distinguished Talent visa?
The Distinguished Talent visa aims to attract individuals who have an “internationally recognised record of exceptional and outstanding achievement” in either a profession, sport, the arts, or academia and research.
It also requires the applicant to still be prominent in the area, be an asset to the Australian community, demonstrate that they’d have no difficulty in obtaining employment (or being established independently) in the area, and be nominated by either an Australian individual or organisation with a national reputation in the area.
You can read more about this visa here.
Am I eligible under this program?
Broadly speaking, to be eligible under this program, a candidate must:
- fit under one of the 10 targeted sectors outlined above; and
- have an “internationally recognised record of exceptional and outstanding achievement” in their field, and either:
- be able to attract a salary equivalent to the Fair Work High Income Threshold (FWHIT), currently AUD $153,600; or
- have completed their PhD in the past 3 years (or nearing completion of their thesis with an expected submission date of 6 months or less).
If you do not satisfy the above, you would not be eligible under this program.
Does my profile fit in one of the 10 target sectors?
Though we are not aware of any official definition of the 10 target sectors, Direction 89 represents a departure from the original 7 target sectors which largely related to “Tech” (generally meaning that there should be some sort of innovative/tech component). This broadening moves away from that “Tech” emphasis and more into the Department’s other priority sectors.
How do I apply?
To access one of the 15,000 positions under the GTI for priority processing, there are three steps:
- the unique identifier and code issued by the Department
- a nomination and
- the visa application itself.
Presently, to be considered under the GTI program, you would need to submit an Expression of Interest (EOI) here directly to the Department.
In our view, your EOI should submit a covering letter, a CV, and evidenced of your claimed achievements.
Once the referral has been assessed, the Department would email the candidate a unique identifier number and code to make the visa application and be considered under the GTI provisions.
Although the application form may now be completed online, the Form 1000 (which has to be completed by the nominator) is still a paper-based form that then needs to be scanned and uploaded.
Your nominator must complete this form, and they must be an:
- Australian Citizen/PR/eligible NZ Citizen; or
- Australian organisation
who has a “national reputation” in relation to the area.
The nomination process is basically an endorsement of your skills, rather than a “sponsorship” with attached obligations (other than to tell the truth of course). You can read more about the nomination and the Form 1000 requirements here.
- reviewing your nominator profile to ensure that they have a “national reputation” before asking them to assist;
- sending the Form 1000 to your nominator when you first ask them to assist to ensure they’re comfortable with what’s on the form.
Both of these steps are to save an awkward conversation down the line.
The key criteria is being able to demonstrate that you have an “internationally recognised record of exceptional and outstanding achievement” in your field. This is to distinguish “ordinary” individuals.
The successful individuals with whom Hannan Tew Lawyers have advised and assisted have: received awards/media coverage of their work, made publications (general/academic), hold patents, spoken at conferences, and/or have held senior positions at international companies.
The visa applicant must also be of good health and character, which means that police clearances and health examinations must be provided/undertaken.
How much does it cost?
The government lodgement fees for this application are:
Over-18 dependent applicants who do not have “functional English” also have to pay an additional $4,890 when the visa is ready to be granted.
Our professional fees are set out as follows (note that fees are subject to your individual circumstances as determined in a consultation):
Consultation1 hour discussion
$ 385Inc GST
- Written Eligibility Assessment
- Consideration of Other Visas
- Undertaken by Video Conference
$ 2,310Inc GST
- Review of Documents
- Preparation of Support Letter
- Submission of EOI
$ 4,400Inc GST
- Review of Documents
- Preparation of Complete Application
- Submission of Application
What were the 14 November 2020 changes to the Distinguished Talent visa?
On 14 November 2020, the Department passed legislation that removed the offshore Subclass 124 visa and made some major amendments to the onshore Distinguished Talent Subclass 858 visa application.
You can read a summary of these changes here.
What were the 20 January 2021 changes to the GTI program and EOI eligibility?
From 20 January 2021, Bachelor (with Honours) and Masters graduates are no longer eligible for invitation to the GTI program on the basis of those qualifications alone. This replaces older guidelines which considered applicants who:
- were recent Masters or Honours graduates (who completed their studies in the last 3 years);
- had obtained a WAM of at last 80% or more; and
- the course was directly related to the relevant target sector.
These individuals were also considered to have the ability to attract the Fair Work High Income Threshold (FWHIT) requirements.
The Department have advised that the new changes apply “regardless of the date you submitted your EOI”, meaning it applies to existing EOIs which have already been submitted.
That is not to say that recent Masters or Bachelors (Honours) graduates should not apply, but that they must also demonstrate international recognition outside of their academic achievements in order to receive an invitation.
Note that candidates in the above cohort who received an invitation reference identifier prior to 20 January 2021 will still be eligible to lodge an application for a Distinguished Talent (subclass 858) visa with priority processing.
What is the impact of Direction No. 89 and the target sectors?
On 17 December 2020, the Department issued Direction No. 89 which outlines the order of consideration of Distinguished Talent visa. Relevantly, it listed out revised target sectors.
The Department have advised that their legal position is that Direction No. 89 has superseded (and revoked) the prior Direction No. 85 which listed the original 7 target sectors. As such the EOI form has been updated to include reference to the new target sectors.
A table summarising the prior target sectors and the new target sectors (and the minor differences between them) can be seen below:
- Space and Advanced Manufacturing
- Energy and Mining Technology
- Quantum Information, Advanced Digital, Data Science and ICT
- Agri-food and AgTech
- Defence, Advanced Manufacturing and Space
- Financial services and FinTech
- Health Industries
- Circular Economy
- Infrastructure & Tourism
The Government’s priority has always been in relation to three broader priority sectors being health and life sciences, financial services, and advanced manufacturing (see here). There are a number of other “enabling sectors” which the Department consider would assist them in these priority areas.
Relevantly, these new target sectors broadened:
- “AgTech” to include Agri-food and allow for individuals doing general work in the food/ beverages that may not necessarily have been “Tech”;
- “Advanced Manufacturing and Space” – to include “Defence”;
- “FinTech” to allow for those in financial services that may not necessarily have had a “Tech” component;
- “DigiTech” which presumably refers to “Digital Technologies” appears to have a broader scope but encapsulates two of the prior target sectors.
The introduction of three new sectors are also interesting, being:
- circular economy – which is an expansion of “Advanced Manufacturing” and has principles based on removing waste/pollution, keeping products/materials in use, and regenerating our natural systems;
- infrastructure & tourism – which is a very broad field capturing arguably two completely different sectors. These new sectors are seen as an “enabling sector” as discussed above.
- education – which presumably relates to individuals doing pioneering things in education (being the introduction of EdTech, or even innovative ways to learn). This is also an “enabling sector”.
What are the statistics around this visa?
As mentioned above, the GTI program had a planning level of 5,000 spots for the 2019/20 program year. A planning level is not an absolute target or a ceiling, but just a notion that the Department works towards in granting visas. The Department’s annual migration programme report indicates that 4,109 were granted against this target (3,344 onshore and 765 offshore).
The breakdown of grants per targeted sector were as follows:
- Quantum Information, Advanced Digital, Data Science and ICT (28%)
- MedTech (26%)
- Energy and Mining Technology (20%)
- AgTech (9%)
- Space and Advanced Manufacturing (8%)
- FinTech (6%)
- Cybersecurity (3%)
Following budget announcements on 6 October 2020, The Hon Alan Tudge MP announced that 15,000 places (triple the last program year) will be set as the planning level for the 2020/2021 program year. This significant increase confirms the Department’s prioritisation of the global talent independent program more generally. That being said, we see that the demand for this program is now significant so encourage applicants to make sure they prepare the best possible application to have the highest prospects of success to obtain permanent residence.
Some useful resources
A few links below can provide further insights into the program:
- Department of Home Affairs website (see here)
- An interview with a Global Talent Officer (see here)
- FOI detailing with GTI statistics for the period 1 July 2020 to 10 October 2020 (see here)
- FOI dealing with GTI statistics for the period 1 October 2020 to 21 October 2020 (see here)
- FOI dealing with the status of applications lodged in June 2020 (see here)
- ACS guidelines for nominations (see here)
Having spoken to hundreds of prospective applicants and assisted numerous individuals through both the Expression of Interest (EOI) and the visa application itself, you can read about some of the most common mistakes we have found by EOI applicants here.
Frequently asked Questions
Hannan Tew Lawyers have had a significant amount of queries from individuals both at EOI and at application stage. This means that we’ve noticed a trend of common queries, which we’re happy to share with you.
If I receive a unique identifier, does this guarantee that my Distinguished Talent visa application will be granted?
I’ve received a unique identifier, but I have family members (spouse/partner, children) outside Australia. What do I do?
I’m in Australia as the holder of a Bridging Visa pending an outcome on a further substantive visa. Can I apply for the Distinguished Talent visa?
With immigration uncertainty in other countries, the Global Talent Independent program is a positive initiative to try and attract some of the best and brightest talent from around the world.
Hannan Tew Lawyers have had a significant amount of enquiries about the GTI program, and have been at the forefront of this program since conception. We have been interviewed by various media outlets including ITnews, and SBS regarding our insights and views on the GTI program, and on our insights on immigration more broadly which can be read here. We have also delivered CPD sessions via industry bodies to educate other Migration Agents / Lawyers on this program.
With significant experience advising the tech and start-up industries in Australia, we have the knowledge and experience to understand your profile and convey the importance of your research, experience and skill sets to the Department to improve your prospects of receiving an invitation and/or the visa itself.
Please feel free to contact us by email at [email protected] or phone +61 3 9016 0484 if you have further comments or would like some guidance.