From 14 November 2020, the Subclass 124 visa has been closed and the Subclass 858 visa has been expanded to include offshore applications instead.
Some changes have been made to the Distinguished Talent Visa, which makes applying under the GTI visa program easier for both offshore and onshore visa applicants. These changes also apply outside of the Global Talent program, to people applying directly for a Distinguished Talent visa.
Importantly, Subclass 124 and Subclass 858 visas submitted before 14 November 2020 will not be affected by the changes, and continue to be subject to the requirements and criteria in place at the time of application.
What changes have been made?
1. Subclass 124 Distinguished Talent Visa is closed
Until recently, the Global Talent Independent Program was a fast-track to one of two visa subclasses: Subclass 124 and Subclass 858. The difference between these two visas was that Subclass 124 visa was for offshore applicants and Subclass 858 was only for onshore visa applicants.
The Department of Home Affairs has as of 14 November 2020 closed down the offshore subclass 124 visas and expanded the subclass 858 visa to replace the 124 visa’s previous role.
Now, regardless of an applicants’ location (offshore or onshore), Global Talent Independent is a fast track to the Subclass 858 visa.
2. Certain temporary and visitor visas are now eligible to apply GTI onshore
Before these changes, you were not able to apply for a subclass 858 visa if you held certain temporary Australian visas. People in Australia on the following visa holders were not allowed to apply for a Subclass 858 Distinguished Talent visa:
- Subclass 601 visa (ETA)
- Subclass 988
- Subclass 679
- Subclass 459
- Subclass 488
- Subclass 400 (Temporary Work (Short Stay Specialist))
- Subclass 676
- Subclass 651 (eVisitor)
- Visitor Visa Subclass 600
- Special purpose visa
- Subclass 456
Now, onshore Subclass 858 visa applicants are required instead to hold a substantive visa or a Bridging Visa A, Bridging Visa B or Bridging Visa C visa to apply for a Subclass 858 (and can hold one of the other, previously excluded, visas listed above).
This might make it possible for people in Australia on business meetings (subclass 600, subclass 651, subclass 601, etc) or those who are here participating in an intensive piece of research (subclass 400) and are Distinguished Talents may be able to apply for a permanent stay in Australia through the subclass 858 visa.
3. PIC 4005 health criteria is replaced with PIC 4007
Most temporary and permanent visa applicants are required to satisfy the Public Interest Health Criteria 4005. This requires visa applicants to be free from a disease or health condition which is likely to require health or community care. If health or community care is required and the cost is significant (more than AUD49, 000 over 5 years), the visa applicants are most likely not being able to fulfil the health criteria.
There is no PIC 4005 waiver. However, PIC4007 has a health waiver to visa applicants. This is a big change to the Distinguished Talent visa.
4. Removal of Clause 858.312
The Distinguished Talent visa has been further simplified by reducing the need for a nomination to include the main applicant’s family members.
There was no field for this in the nomination Form 1000, so nominators were required to provide a letter to accompany the Form 1000 stating that the family was included. This was confusing and, in a lot of ways, unnecessary.
This change is useful, because commonly a nominator may not be aware of the nominee’s family situation. In some ways, it helps to keep the nomination relationship more professional.
It is possible that given the volume coming through Global Talent, this requirement was not being enforced, and has been removed to help the “fast-tracking” of the Global Talent program. The less redundant provisions which are not being enforced there are, the smoother the process can be.
Comments by CHRIS JOHNSTON, Immigration Lawyer & RMA in South Australia Adelaide: Changes Simplify the GTI and Distinguished Talent Program
Overall, this change modernises the Distinguished Talent visa program, bringing it in line with other Australian visa programs which deal with onshore and offshore applications under the same visa subclass.
It is likely that these changes have come about due to the extra attention which the Global Talent program had brought to the Distinguished Talent subclass 124 and 858 visas.
This simpler structure should make the program simpler and less confusing for those applying for Distinguished Talent visa, through the GTI program or not.
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