Global Talent Program and Distinguished Talent Visa

The Migration Program for a new financial year is normally considered early in the new calendar year, and the program is formally announced by the Minister after his public consultations and after the Federal Cabinet has decided on it – this announcement is normally made before the commencement of the new financial year on 1 July.

This year the process has been disrupted because of the Covid-19 pandemic and the migration program, or its planning levels, is now expected to be released about the time of the Budget in early October 2020.

The Prime Minister has already foreshadowed that the program will be reduced significantly because of the growing unemployment in Australia. However, it is expected that certain programs may not be reduced because of the significant economic and employment benefits that they will bring Australia. Two such programs are the Business Innovation & Investment Visa Program, and the Global Talent Program.

We will discuss the Global Talent Program & the Distinguished Talent Program in this article.

Purpose of this Article

When we talk about the Australian Global Talent Program, we are in fact talking about the following three loose but separate or overlapping programs:
• Global Talent Employer Sponsored Program:
• Global Talent Independent Program; and
• Distinguished Talent Program.

In this article we will demystify the Global Talent Program, and in the process also look specifically at the Distinguished Talent Visa.

The Global Talent Program

This is in fact our third article on the subject of Global Talent, and what it means:

• Global Talent Employer Sponsored:

On 7 May 2020 we reprinted an article that we had published in 2019 on the Global Talent Employer Sponsored Program (GTES) which you can view here:

In this article we explained how Australian businesses can negotiate specific labour agreements directly with the Department of Home Affairs to bring highly skilled occupations that may not be on the published skilled occupation lists to Australia.

Australian businesses must demonstrate that they cannot fill vacant positions under existing skilled visa programs before applying for a GTES agreement, and the criteria for this is dependent on the visa stream that is being considered:

•the Established Business Stream is where the applicant is for a highly skilled occupation where its minimum annual earning capacity is equivalent to the Fair Work High Income Threshold (currently AUD$153,600).

•the Start-up Stream: In contrast this stream is aimed at newly-established companies in STEM-related fields (science, technology, engineering, and math) that can demonstrate that they have received at least AUD$50,000 in funding from an investment fund registered as an Early Stage Venture Capital Limited Partnership, or that they have received an Accelerating Commercialisation Grant. In addition, the Businesses must be endorsed by the Start-up Advisory Panel.

These visas will be allocated from either the Employer Sponsored Visa Programs, or the Global Talent Program.

• Global Talent Independent:

Our second article on Global Talent was published on 14 May 2020 when we wrote about the Global Talent Independent (GTI) Visa:

This visa program is for highly-skilled candidates from seven specified innovative “future focused fields” of interest to the Australian government, specifically in the AgTech, Space and Advanced Manufacturing, FinTech, Energy and Mining Technology, MedTech, Cyber Security, and Quantum Information, Advanced Digital, Data Science and IT sectors.

Apart from proving that applicants have an internationally recognised record of exceptional and outstanding achievement, they also need to show that they attract, or potentially attract, a salary commensurate with the Fair Work High Income Threshold (FWHIT).

The Global Talent Independent Visa is a permanent resident visa and is given priority processing by the department.

In this article, we will also give focus to the Distinguished Talent Visa and the confusion it may sometimes have with the GTI as both overlap, and have different visa program allocations.

We have already explained above, and in the links provided, what Global Talent is, and specifically the Global Talent Independent “Visa”. The Minister for Immigration in announcing the GTI program on 4 November 2019 said: “Over time, the Global Talent program has the potential to have a transformative impact on the Australian economy.”

Because of its importance, the Minister has said that the process for these applications will be fast-tracked to permanent residency in Australia.

But when we discuss Global Talent visas, we merely discuss them as notional GTES or GTI “visas”. In reality GTES and GTI are only notional concepts as they do not have a 3-digit subclass identifier number like other substantive visas, such as Skilled Visas (eg 189, 190 or 491), or Distinguished Talent Visa (offshore subclass 124 or onshore 858 visas).

However, a migration program is allocated to them directly: for GTES its program if not derived from the Employer Sponsored Program, would like GTI, be sourced directly from the Global Talent Program.

In processing GTI applications, they are managed and assessed in a similar way to Distinguished Talent Visas. Just this month (July 2020) we assisted a client apply for the GTI Program – and the GTI/ Distinguished Talent Visa was granted in just 11 days! When this visa is granted, however, the visa is allocated from the larger Global Talent Program instead of the much smaller Distinguished Talent Program.

In the 2019-2020 Program year, 5,000 visa allocation was set aside for Global Talent and only 200 visas for Distinguished Talent. This fact can be found on the department’s website:

What is Distinguished Talent Visa?

It is important to explain the difference between the GTI and the Distinguished Talent (DT) visa. They overlap theoretically but they are not the same.

As explained above, the GTI is a program for highly-skilled candidates from seven specified innovative “future focused fields” identified by the Australian government. Applicants for it must have an internationally recognised record of exceptional and outstanding achievement.

In contrast, the DT is notionally much broader in scope, even though its program numbers are significantly smaller.

To be eligible for DT, like GTI, applicants must also have an internationally recognised record of exceptional and outstanding achievement, but the applicant can come from one of the following four broad areas of talent:
• a profession;
• a sport;
• the arts;
• academia and research.

In addition, the applicant must still be prominent in the area; will be an asset to the Australian community; and will have no difficulty in obtaining employment, or in becoming established independently in Australia in their area of reputation.

Furthermore, the applicant must be nominated and have the support of an Australian citizen or permanent resident or Australian organisation that has a national reputation in the area of talent.

The applicant must also prove that they will be of exceptional benefit to the Australian community.

These are the minimum core threshold requirements for DT.

As can be seen, GTI applicants need also to fulfill many of the same criteria, but their eligibility will be narrower in scope.

Case Example

To illustrate what a DT candidate may look like, I can share a true story that was granted a DT Visa.

The applicant in question was an exceptional Indian classical dancer of Indian nationality. Because she was able to prove the following requirements, she was granted a DT Visa:

• as an Indian classical dancer, she was able to prove that she was the cream of the cream, globally, in the arts – that she had an internationally recognised record of exceptional and outstanding achievement;

• at time of application she remained prominent in her craft;

• she was able to prove that she was an asset (culturally?) to the Australian Community;

• she could prove that she had no difficulty in obtaining employment, or in becoming established independently in Australia in her area of talent and reputation – possibly teaching and earning an income from teaching Indian classical dancing to the growing Indian diaspora in Australia?

• she had the support of an Australian citizen/ permanent resident or Australian organisation that had a national reputation in the area of her talent; and

• she was able to prove that she would be of exceptional benefit (cultural?) to the Australian community.

This is an usual story, but it is chosen here to illustrate how the DI Visa works, even though it is an arcane talent.

However, unlike the GTI, the DI Program numbers have remained consistently low over the years – only a ceiling of 200 visas have been issued annually in the past many years.

Eligibility for DI candidates are therefore highly selective and rigorous.

How does the process work?

Candidates with immense talent as explained for GTI and DI, and who wish to be considered for either program should approach us to test their eligibility.

If the candidate is assessed as potentially meeting the requirements, we will assist the applicant with the process: by lodging an Expression of Interest in the case of GTI, or an application to Australian Immigration for DI candidates.

In either case, we will work with the client in guiding and advocating for them throughout the process:

• For GTI candidates: we will work with the client in a proactive manner to lodge their expression of interest to the department. Successful candidates will be issued an invitation to submit an application with a Global Talent unique identifier, and we will assist the client lodge the strongest application possible for them.

• For DI candidates: the process for DI is different. If we are convinced that the client meets all the required threshold requirements we will guide & work with them in a proactive way to collate all the required supporting evidence to enhance the applicant’s prospects before finally lodging the application.

We have direct experience in assisting clients with these applications and are familiar with the processes. As mentioned above, in July 2020, we assisted a GTI/ Distinguished Talent client get her visa in a record 11 days! We endeavour to assist all our future clients in a similar way. These applications are important to the Australian government, and GTI applicants are fast-tracked and given priority processing.


Rostron Carlyle Rojas Lawyers team of Migration Lawyers can assess the suitability of candidates for either program. We can provide comprehensive advice regarding eligibility, address the important threshold issues, and guide applicants in preparing a decision-ready application.

Please contact any one of us in the Migration team for assistance, or call (07) 3009 8444:
• Peter K K Lee, Special Counsel: [email protected]
• Clayton Hellen, Senior Associate: [email protected]
• Shanalee Johal, Lawyer: [email protected]

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