Government prepares for launch of ‘innovation’ visa pilot

Global Talent Scheme visa program launches 1 July

The 12-month pilot of the government’s Global Talent Scheme (GTS) visa program will begin on 1 July.

The government in March first revealed details of the program, which sits under the broader Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa scheme but has fewer restrictions attached than standard TSS visas.

The GTS program is intended to target highly skilled and specialised workers and has two streams: One for established businesses and one for startups.

The announcement of the GTS program came in the wake of criticism of Australia’s migration regime by tech companies following the scrapping of the 457 temporary visa class.

“This scheme is designed to facilitate businesses accessing top talent from around the world,” citizenship and multicultural affairs minister Alan Tudge said in a statement.

“It complements existing Temporary Skill Shortage visa arrangements by providing the flexibility to handle high value, niche skills that can't be obtained under the standard visa program.

“A lot of the top talent is in fierce demand from companies all over the world.  We want this talent to come to Australia, to support businesses here and create wealth for the nation.”

The government has now released guidelines for the GTS program.

The government has introduced multiple streams as part of the TSS program, which is a replacement for the 457 visas.

The standard TSS program has short-term (two year) and medium-term (four year) visas available. An employer can sponsor a skilled worker only when there is no Australian available if their application is listed on the current skilled occupation lists.

The government also has a Labour Agreement visa stream that it says offers more flexibility, including allowing visas for workers at specific companies, industries or geographic areas in occupations not listed on the current occupation lists at ANZSCO skill levels 1-4.

Under the GTS pilot, visas of up to four years are on offer, alongside access to a permanent residency pathway for visa-holders.

Businesses are able to negotiate variance from the standard TSS visa requirements and faster processing of visas is available. The roles are not restricted to the skilled occupation lists used to determine TSS visa eligibility.

“This scheme will connect Australia with the skills to help grow the economy and develop innovative new businesses,” jobs and innovation minister Senator Michaelia Cash said.

“The government has been working closely with stakeholders to ensure this program brings maximum benefit to Australia - to promote business growth, skill sharing and increased job creation.”

The government has published a guide on applying for a visa under the GTS program.

Established businesses — those that are publicly listed or have annual turnover of at least $4 million a year — have access to up to 20 GTS positions per year.

They have to provide labour market testing evidence for the specific positions as part of request for a GTS agreement. An additional criterion is that that a position must have minimum annual earnings of $145,000.

Startups must operate in a technology-based or STEM-related field. They have access to up to five positions a year; positions must have minimum annual earnings of at least $80,000, which can include equity (but with a minimum cash component of $53,900).

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