Highly Skilled in Your Field? The Distinguished Talent Visa is For You

The distinguished talent visa

The distinguished talent visa program is currently being heavily promoted by the Australian government — especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This visa has been designed for highly skilled migrants who have outstanding records in their field and offers many benefits such as:

  • immediate permanent residency if the application is approved
  • high priority processing times (with many applications being processed within a matter of weeks)
  • less expensive than business, investment and entrepreneur visas

Keep reading to learn more about distinguished talent visas, the sectors most likely to benefit from high priority processing times, the criteria one needs to meet and if you could be eligible for one here.

What is a Distinguished Talent Visa?

Distinguished talent visas are for exceptionally talented individuals who are still prominent in their fields.

There are two types of distinguished talent visas:

  1. The subclass 124
  2. The subclass 858

The purpose of these visas is to provide a fast-tracked pathway to permanent residency for applicants that meet the criteria for a distinguished talent visa.  

Subclass 124 and 858 visa applications are assessed by ‘Global Talent Officers’.

These officers are stationed around the world in locations such as Berlin, Dubai, New Delhi, Santiago, Shanghai, Singapore, and Washington D.C.

Another major benefit of applying for a distinguished talent visa is that the Global Talent Officer assigned to assessing your application will also help guide you during the application process.

This differs from a normal visa application where the officer assigned to assess your application will simply review the application on its merits and will not necessarily provide you with any specialised assistance.

What is The Difference Between The Two Distinguished Talent Visas?

There are two points of difference for the subclass 124 and 858 distinguished talent visas.

These are: 

  1. You cannot apply for the subclass 858 visa if you are outside Australia at the time of lodging your visa application.
  2. If you are applying for a subclass 858 visa, the last Australian visa that you held, or currently hold, cannot be a:
    1. Electronic Travel Authority visa;
    2. Maritime Crew Temporary visa;
    3. Sponsored Visitor visa;
    4. Superyacht Crew Temporary visa; 
    5. Temporary Work Short Stay Specialist visa;
    6. Tourist visa;
    7. Visitor visa;
    8. Special Purpose visa; or
    9. Business Short Stay visa
distinguished talent Visa

What Are The Benefits of a Distinguished Talent Visa For Applicants?

There are number of exciting benefits for applicants over those of skilled, work and family visas which include:

  1. High priority processing applications approved within weeks — we know of one application that was processed within a week
  2. Even non-high priority processing applications are approved much faster than other visa categories, usually within a few months. For the other visas typical timelines are as follows:
    1. 188 and 132 usually 18-24 months
    2. Skilled and work visas usually 10-18 months
    3. Family visas can be over 24 months
  3. If the application is approved, the applicant immediately receives PR. This lets you enter Australia.
  4. You have 5 years from the date of the grant of the visa to enter Australia. Plenty of time to sort out personal affairs, flights and undertake 14 day mandatory hotel quarantine period.
  5. Less expensive than business, investment and entrepreneur visas.
  6. Do not need to obtain a nomination from a State or Territory government or be sponsored by an Australian employer of a family member.
  7. The officer processing the application provides much more assistance than officers who process other visa applications (i.e less stressful, overwhelming and intimidating for non-DT visa applicants). 
  8. If you lodge EOI and don’t get invited to apply for this visa, this does not appear as a blemish on your visa record.
  9. The applicant doesn’t need to get a skills assessment like with skilled visas and most work visas. This is another reason why the process is quicker and cheaper.
  10. The applicant doesn’t need to have a certain English language ability like with the skilled, work, student, 188e visas. This means that you don’t need to undertake an English language test, which again saves time and money. 
  11. No age limit like skilled and most work visas that have an under 45 requirement.

What is The Process For Applying For a Distinguished Talent Visa?

Applying for a distinguished talent visa is a two-step process.

  1. Submit an expression of interest
  2. Submit a visa application

What Happens After an Expression of Interest is Lodged?

A global talent officer will be assigned to review your expression of interest. They will then determine whether your application falls within the high priority processing category.

The officer will then arrange a time with you to discuss your skills, experience, and interest in applying for a distinguished talent visa.

Who is Eligible For High Priority Processing?

High priority processing is available for applicants who meet the following criteria:

  1. Their profession is relevant to certain industries (more information below).
  2. Either: 
    1. There is written communication from an Australian employer offering employment in Australia with an annual salary equivalent to or higher than the Fair Work high-income threshold (‘FWHIT’); 
      1. This amount is currently $153,600 AUD, however, please note that it is subject to change without notice.
    2. Their current earnings are an amount equal to or greater than the FWHIT; or
    3. There is evidence that they are likely to attract a salary that is equal to or greater than the FWHIT.

What Are The Sectors That Distinguished Talent Visa Applicants Can Receive High Priority Processing For?

Agtech distinguished talent visa

Those who are employed in a profession that relates to the following sectors can apply for high priority processing of their distinguished talent visa applications:

  1. AgTech (the application of technology to agriculture and food production);
  2. FinTech (technology that seeks to improve and automate the delivery and use of financial services);
  3. MedTech (medical technologies and pharmaceuticals);
  4. Cyber Security;
  5. Quantum Information, Advanced Digital, Data Science and ICT;
  6. Space and Advanced Manufacturing; and
  7. Energy and Mining Technology.

Who Else Can Apply For High Priority Processing?

It is also possible for certain graduates to be eligible for high priority processing under the distinguished talent visa program.

The Australian Government is actively encouraging people who meet the criteria below to apply for a distinguished talent visa.

The criteria are:

  1. The applicant has completed either a: 
    1. Doctoral degree (PhD) in the last 3 years, or are submitting their thesis in the next 6 months; or
    2. Bachelor Honours degree or Masters degree in the last 3 years, and have an overall grade-point average of 80 (or above) out of 100

These graduates/students will be eligible to receive the highest visa processing priority under the distinguished talent visa program if their studies relate to one of the seven priority sectors above, and they can demonstrate a current or future annual salary equivalent to or higher than the FWHIT.

What is The Processing Time For Applicants Who Are Not Eligible For High Priority Processing? 

Any distinguished talent visa applicants who do not meet the high priority processing eligibility criteria above receive the second highest priority according to Australian immigration policy.

Whilst publicly available information regarding these processing times are not available, we have received information that indicates that these applications are processed much faster than skilled or work visa applications. 

distinguished talent Visa

What Are The Criteria For Distinguished Talent Visas?

The criteria above are not the same criteria that is used to determine whether a distinguished talent visa application should be approved.

These criteria are used to identify which applicants are eligible for high priority processing, whereas the criteria below are used to determine whether a distinguished talent visa should be approved. 

Previous Record

There are two ways that you can meet this criterion. 

  1. You have an internationally recognised record of exceptional and outstanding achievement in: 
    1. a profession;
    2. a sport;
    3. the arts; or
    4. academia and research.
  2. You have provided specialised assistance to the Australian Government in matters of security.

If you are attempting to demonstrate that you have an internationally recognised record of exceptional and outstanding achievement in one of the fields mentioned above, then you will also need to meet these additional criteria.

  1. You are still prominent in this field. 
  2. You would be an asset to the Australian community.
  3. You would have no difficulty in obtaining employment, or in becoming established independently, in Australia in your field. 
  4. An Australian citizen, Australian permanent resident, eligible New Zealand citizen or an Australian organisation that has a national reputation in relation to your field attests to your record of achievement.

Please note that if you are under 18 or over 55 you will also need to demonstrate that your presence in Australia would be of exceptional benefit to the Australian community. 

Public Interest Criteria

You, and if applicable, any of your family members, will need to satisfy the relevant public interest criterion.

These relate to things such as meeting the health and character requirements.

Please note that if you have family members that are not included in your distinguished talent visa application, they will still need to meet some of the public interest criterion. 

Special Return Criteria

If you, or any of the family members included in your application, have previously spent time in Australia, then you will need to demonstrate that the relevant special return criteria have been met.

This will usually happen if you have not previously had an Australian visa cancelled or received a deportation notice.

However, it is still possible to meet these criteria even if this applies to you or one of your family members included in your distinguished talent visa application.

What Happens if My Distinguished Talent Visa Application is Approved?

You will become an Australian permanent resident upon receiving notification that your distinguished talent visa has been approved.

Any family members included in your application will also become permanent residents on the date that their application is approved.

This means that you, and any family members included in your application, will be able to travel to and from Australia as many times as you like within a 5-year period of the application being approved. 

If you have been an Australian permanent resident for 5 years, then you are eligible to apply for Australian citizenship by conferral.

Once your citizenship application is approved, you will be eligible to apply for an Australian passport. This will allow you to travel to and from Australia as often as you like.

In the event that you do not hold an Australian passport after the 5-year period referred to above expires, you can apply for a resident return visa if you wish to depart and re-enter Australia.  

What Happens if My Distinguished Talent Visa Application is Refused?

If your application is refused, you may be able to appeal this decision via the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

It is always prudent to have an immigration lawyer or agent review the reasons why your visa application was refused before you look at lodging an appeal. 

Should you not be able to appeal your decision, you may want to consider lodging another application if you believe that your circumstances have changed to the point that you have a better chance of getting your subsequent application approved.

Alternatively, you can consider lodging an application for a different kind of visa such as a work, skilled, business (temporary or permanent) or investment visa.

Interested in applying for a distinguished talent visa using the help of registered migration agents and legal experts?

Book your free visa assessment below.

distinguished talent Visa