Updates to Global Talent (subclass 858) Visa program

Global Talent Independent (GTI) – Student Eligibility Changes
  • Bachelor with Honours, Masters by Coursework and Masters by Research graduates will no longer be eligible solely based on having achieved a qualification in a priority sector.
  • Ph.D graduates who completed their studies within the past three years will still be eligible. However, candidates who achieved their qualification from a non-Australian education provider will have to demonstrate that their Ph.D meets Australian standards.
  • Ph.D students nearing completion of their degree must demonstrate that they have a prior record of exceptional and outstanding professional achievement, and also that their Ph.D will meet Australian standards.

These changes will help to ensure that Australia attracts the highest calibre of Global Talent, in order to support the creation of new industries and jobs on the path to Australia’s economic recovery from COVID-19.

Visa name change and transitional arrangements

On 27th Feb 2021, the Distinguished Talent Visa was renamed as the Global Talent Visa (with the same subclass 858). From this date, a Distinguished Talent Visa (subclass 124) or Global Talent Visa (subclass 858) can be granted to eligible applicants who are in or outside Australia. This is provided they are not in immigration clearance when the decision is made.

New Global Talent priority sectors

On 17th Dec 2020, s499 Ministerial Direction no 89 came into effect and included a new list of Global Talent priority sectors:

  • Resources
  • Agri-food and AgTech
  • Energy
  • Health industries
  • Defence, advanced manufacturing and space
  • Circular economy
  • Digitech
  • Infrastructure and tourism
  • Financial services and FinTech
  • Education
Pathways in the Global Talent Visa (subclass 858)

There are two pathways in this Visa:

For the Global Talent Visa pathway, potential candidates who have relevant skills and experience in a priority sector should refer to the Department’s Global Talent Visa webpage for information about applying. Eligible candidates will be invited to apply for a Global Talent Visa (subclass 858), and are strongly encouraged to lodge the Visa application at the earliest opportunity.

The demand for the Distinguished Talent pathway is overwhelming, and is open only to the most exceptional and outstanding individuals. The average processing time for the Distinguished Talent program is 18-20 months.

Updates to The Global Business and Talent Attraction Taskforce

Last year, amid the global uncertainty fuelled by COVID-19, the Government launched a powerful blueprint for economic growth, with the JobMaker Plan – a key tool to help turbocharge the Australian economy. As part of this effort to generate thousands of quality jobs for Australians, the Prime Minister set up the Global Business and Talent Attraction Taskforce, and described the mission as “Australia’s brain gain”.

The Taskforce is a Government initiative to bring the best and brightest businesses and talent to Australia. It targets high yield companies that can bring new technologies, cutting edge research and development, and IP and capital into Australia.

The Taskforce is targeting exceptionally talented individuals and experts at the top of their field who can drive innovation. It is engaging the most successful companies with high growth potential and highly skilled professionals in future-focused industries to come to Australia and develop their ideas here.

The Taskforce is facilitating the relocation of senior executives, company staff and their families with flexible Visa arrangements to fast track their transition into Australia. It will connect them with industry and supportive business ecosystems to help them hit the ground running.

As of 27th Feb 2021, changes were made to improve Australia’s competitiveness as a relocation destination, and to make it easier and faster for exceptional talent and high value businesses to relocate and contribute to Australia’s post-COVID economic recovery.

The changes relating to the Global Talent Visa (earlier Distinguished Talent Visa) include an ability for the Taskforce to directly nominate exceptionally talented candidates who will make a significant contribution to the Australian economy.

A temporary work Visa option has also been introduced to facilitate the rapid temporary deployment (up to 18 months) of critically skilled staff to Australia to establish a ‘beach-head’ for their business relocation. This Visa option will be available through the Temporary Activity Visa (subclass 408), Australian Government Endorsed Events stream, and Post COVID-19 Economic Recovery event. Up to 10 Visas will be available to the relocating business under this stream.

Updates to Business Innovation and Investment Program (BIIP)

For quicker processing, the applicant needs to ensure that:

  • all documentation necessary to meet application requirements is provided along with lodgement of the application
  • supporting evidence provided is specific to the applicant’s claims – any irrelevant documentation will increase the processing time).
  • all documentation is cross-referenced to the relevant Visa requirement
  • all documentation is certified as “True Copy”, unless the documents are being submitted electronically
  • accredited translations are provided for all documents which are not in English
  • all documentation is provided in only one response as far as possible

While processing BIIP applications, the Department is not obligated to request information before making a decision on the application in the below cases:

  • where the provided documentation evidences that a mandatory criterion is not met; or
  • where no supporting documentation has been provided for an application.

Important Information about Providing Supporting Documents

Using ImmiAccount to provide documents:

If the application was submitted through ImmiAccount for any of the following subclasses, all documents should also be attached to your application through ImmiAccount:

  • 188 Subsequent Entrant – all streams
  • 188 Business Innovation Extension stream
  • 188 Significant Investor Extension stream
  • 188 Entrepreneur stream
  • 888 Business Innovation and Investment (for applications lodged on or after 1st Jul 2018)

When documents are successfully attached, they will show as ‘Received’ in ImmiAccount, and no duplicate copies should be emailed. Also, if the attachment limit for an applicant is reached, more documents can be attached under other applicants included in the application.

Using email to provide documents:

If you are unable to attach documents, they should be sent by email to business.skills.adelaide@homeaffairs.gov.au. Please do not send documents by mail unless you are asked to provide them. The application ID and file number must be included in the subject line of the email. The file number is the number commencing BCC20XX/XXXX. This was provided in the email acknowledging receipt of the application.

Withdrawing a Visa application:

If your circumstances have changed, and you wish to withdraw your BIIP Visa application, you must complete a “Withdrawal of a Visa application” form, and send it to the relevant Departmental processing office as soon as possible.

Updates to General Skilled Migration Visa Processing

The following GSM Visa subclasses are subject to migration program planning levels as well as priority processing arrangements:

This prioritisation will affect processing times for individual applications. The Department processes applications according to Direction No. 87 – Order of consideration – certain skilled migration Visas. Under the Direction, applicants who nominate an occupation in a Critical Sector have the highest priority for Visa application processing. Occupations nominated outside of a Critical Sector may experience greater processing timeframes.

Updates to Information on Initial/First Entry to Australia for Skilled Visa holders

Where a person holds a skilled Visa and condition 8504 has been imposed, their Visa grant letter will advise the date they should first arrive in Australia (initial entry date). Holders of skilled Visas should try to enter Australia before their initial entry date.

However, the Department understands that due to COVID-19 related impacts on travel, some Visa holders have been unable to enter Australia by their initial entry date. In this case, holders of valid skilled Visas can still enter Australia after their initial entry date. Visa holders should however try to arrive as close to their initial entry date as they can, subject to travel and border conditions.

Updates to Employer Sponsored Visa Program

Employer Sponsored Visa Processing Times

Applicants are naturally keen to have their applications finalised as quickly as possible. However, Ministerial Directions Nos 87 and 88 apply to all applications for the Employer Sponsored Visa programs, regardless of the date of lodgement.

All Visa applications are allocated on a priority basis. In some cases this may lead to some applications being processed quicker than others, even though they may share similar characteristics, such as occupation and employer. Under the Ministerial Directions, applications lodged in Australia take precedence over applications lodged outside Australia, unless the application falls in the PMSOL or Critical Sectors.

The Department is unable to provide progress reports about specific applications. Applicants can check their application status in ImmiAccount.

The Department has been receiving a high volume of requests for Visa grants to allow the applicant to work for their intended employer. Applicants need to first confirm with VEVO the work rights of an onshore Visa applicant, as some may hold a Visa or a bridging Visa with conditions that already permit them to work for their intended employer.

The COVID-19 pandemic and the global economic downturn have negatively impacted many industry sectors and businesses. Decision makers are required to be satisfied that the applications they are considering continue to meet relevant criteria for approval. Where an application (nomination or Visa) was lodged before or during COVID, then that employer and/or Visa applicant may be required to provide new information that the business is still viable, or that the position is still available and that the nominated employee is still required.

To help minimise processing delays and reduce the need for tailored ‘Requests for Information’, automated emails alerting applicants to the above requirement are being sent. These email prompts encourage applicants to check the current validity of the information they had provided earlier, and invite them to now update it. To assist applicants, the prompt emails specify what specific updated information the applicant should consider providing, and a timely and comprehensive response to these emails may result in applications being finalised without recourse to a case-specific ‘Request for Information’. Further case-specific information may be sought if necessary, for example, where information provide conflicts with other available information. All updated information should be provided only through ImmiAccount.

Applications with health and penal clearances are likely to be processed more quickly than applications with pending or expired clearances. Wherever possible, the Department is extending health and penal clearances for a further six months, but where clearances have expired the Department will contact the applicant to request fresh clearances.

The Department is aware that there is heavy demand for health check appointments because many clinics having been temporarily closed during the peak of COVID. Applicants are therefore urged to make their appointments as soon as possible on receiving an invitation to refresh a health clearance. Applicants should also proactively ensure that their police clearances list all known aliases, or they will be required to be refreshed.

Employer Sponsored Program Management (ESPM) Mailbox Queries
ESPM receive many queries about the following, which they are unable to individually respond to:
  • confirmation of understanding or interpretation of policy/legislation;   or
  • seeking pre-assessment of whether a particular scenario will meet the prescribed criteria for a particular Visa.

ESPM will respond to external queries of a complex nature only where the answer is not available in the Legend or on their website.

Withdrawing a Visa Application

If an applicant’s circumstances have changed, and they want to withdraw their Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) (subclass 482) or Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (Provisional) (SESR) (subclass 494) Visa application, they should use the ‘Withdrawal of a Visa application’ function via their ImmiAccount. Where this option is not available, the applicant should complete the ‘Withdrawal of a Visa application’ form 1446 as soon as possible, and send it to espd@homeaffairs.gov.au.

Labour Market Testing (LMT) Requirements

To progress applications efficiently, you need to ensure that complete and up-to-date Labour Market Testing (LMT) evidence is submitted at the time of nomination application for the Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) (subclass 482) Visa and the Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (Provisional) (SESR) (subclass 494) Visa programs. Incomplete and out-dated evidence is likely to lead to delays in processing and even application refusal with no provision for refund. More information is available on the Procedural Instructions on the TSS nominations and SESR nominations websites.

Sponsorship Applications

When completing a TSS sponsorship application or a TSS nomination application, the sponsors are asked to identify the Related Sponsorship by providing the relevant identification number (ABN or TRN). The applicant has to ensure that the relevant sponsorship identification number is entered correctly in this section. If it is not, the application will be linked to the wrong entity.

Skilling Australian Fund (SAF) Levy Refund Requests

Certain circumstances under Regulation 2.73AA of the Migration Regulations 1994 provide a refund of the SAF levy, including those outlined below:

  • The sponsorship and Visa applications are approved, but the overseas skilled worker (Visa holder) does not arrive/commence employment with the employer.
  • The employer’s sponsorship and nomination application for the overseas skilled worker is approved, but the associated Visa application is refused on health or character grounds.
  • A TSS Visa holder leaves the sponsoring employer within the first 12 months of employment, where the Visa period was for more than 12 months. Refunds will only be available in this scenario for the unused full years of the SAF levy. Note this does not apply to ENS or RSMS holders who leave their employer within the first 12 months of employment.
  • The nomination fee is refunded (for example where a concurrent sponsor application is refused).

The Department does not have the discretion to approve a refund in circumstances that are not covered by Regulation 2.73AA mentioned above.

The Refund Request form 1424 requires the applicant to provide a clear and well-supported reason for requesting a refund. To avoid delays in the processing of refund requests, when completing question 24 in form 1424, please include the specific provision under regulation 2.73AA along with an explanation of how the request meets that particular provision.

Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List

On 2nd September 2020, the government introduced a Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List (PMSOL) of 17 occupations to prioritise processing of Visa applications that fill critical skills needs in order to support Australia’s economic recovery from the impact of COVID-19. On 27th November 2020, the occupation of Social Worker was added to PMSOL, bringing the total number of occupations to 18.

The PMSOL comprises occupations primarily in the health care, construction and IT sectors based on expert advice from the National Skills Commission and in consultation with relevant Commonwealth agencies, which is frequently reviewed. The updated PMSOL can be found on the Department website.

Visas for General Practitioners (GPs)

The Visas for GPs is an initiative between the Department of Health and Home Affairs, which commenced on 11th Mar 2019. The purpose of the Visas for GPs measure is to manage the growth of overseas trained doctors entering primary care in well-serviced major capital cities and metropolitan areas of Australia.

To reduce the administrative burden on hospitals under the Visas for GPs program, Health Workforce Exemption Certificates (HWECs) have been introduced. This means that hospitals submit a HWEC instead of a Health Workforce Certificate (HWC) as part of the Visa nomination application.

This exemption (HWEC) applies only to temporary and provisional Visa applicants (subclasses 482 and 494). Permanent Visa applicants (subclasses 186 and 187) still require an individual HWC.

Visa Application Charge Waiver for TSS/457 holder affected by travel restrictions

From 27th Feb 2021, certain skilled workers may be eligible for a Visa Application Charge (VAC) free TSS (subclass 482) Visa application. Former holders of TSS (subclass 482) or Temporary Work (Skilled) (subclass 457) Visas, who were unable to enter Australia because of border restrictions will be eligible for a VAC free TSS (subclass 482) Visa application.

This includes:

  • those unable to enter Australia because of COVID-19 travel restrictions before their Visa ceased
  • those who travelled to Australia and departed but were unable to return to Australia before their Visa ceased due to COVID-19 travel restrictions

If applicants are outside Australia and held an eligible Visa on or after 1st Feb 2020 which has since ceased, they will be eligible for a waiver of the VAC for a subsequent Temporary Skill Shortage (subclass 482) Visa application. Applicants are required to have a valid nomination.

These changes will assist the economic recovery post COVID-19 by ensuring Australia remains an attractive destination for temporary Visa holders who fill critical skills shortages, where a suitably qualified Australian is not available.

Transition to permanent residency concessions

From 24th Nov 2020, changes have been introduced to provide a range of concessions to temporary skilled Visa holders who are on a pathway to Permanent Residence (PR), who may have been disadvantaged by the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, such as border closures, restrictions imposed on businesses and the general economic downturn.

The changes allow eligible Visa holders who were on a pathway to Permanent Residence prior to the COVID-19 pandemic more flexibility in meeting work experience and age exemptions for the Temporary Residence Transition (TRT) stream of the Employer Nomination Scheme (subclass 186) and the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (subclass 187) Visas.

Age Exemptions

The current age exemptions for higher income earners under the TRT stream have been adjusted to allow any period of reduced earnings because of COVID-19 during the effected period to be excluded when calculating the applicant’s earnings.  This will mean the high-income threshold will be adjusted on a pro-rata basis for any year in which an applicant receives reduced earnings due to COVID-19.

Work history to qualify for Permanent Residence

The current qualifying work history requirements have been adjusted to allow periods where a worker has been temporarily stood down, been on unpaid leave or had their hours reduced to count towards the relevant employment history requirements, as if they were periods of full-time work. This will give a concession to people who have left Australia and returned to resume employment with their employer, and also to those who remained in Australia but were stood down or had their hours reduced during the COVID-19 period.

Updates to Family Visa processing

Health and Character Clearances

The Department is processing more partner applications. The priority is finalisation of onshore applications, and applications which meet all requirements for grant of a Visa. They have been actively contacting applicants to ask them to complete health and character checks as soon as possible. Applicants with valid health and character clearances are being prioritised for assessment ahead of others and are likely to be finalised more quickly. The Department has informed that where possible under policy, health clearances will be extended a further 6 months.

Grant of certain offshore applications to applicants onshore

From 27th Feb 2021, as a temporary COVID-19 concession, the Migration Regulations were changed to allow grant of certain Partner and Child Visas to applicants who are located in Australia. These applications will be finalised as quickly as possible once all requirements are met. The affected Visas are:

On 24th Mar 2021, this concession was extended to certain Parent Visa applicants:

A concession to allow Visa Grant to certain Visa applicants who are outside Australia has also been applied since Mar 2021 to the following Visas:

During the pandemic, the Department does not advise any applicant to travel offshore to meet Visa requirements. However, Visa applicants should ensure they maintain lawful status by applying for a temporary Visa or a Bridging Visa.