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Correct as at 2 March 2020

After an initial one year pilot program, the Global Talent Employer Sponsored (GTES) visa program has been adopted on a permanent basis by the Immigration Department.

The purpose of this GTES program is to enable highly skilled individuals, who will act as ‘job multipliers’ in the Australian economy, to come to Australia and work for Australian businesses.  Businesses that cannot fill skills shortages through existing skilled visa programs may be eligible to sponsor workers for a 482 TSS visa using the GTES. These workers may be eligible for permanent residency in the future under the 186 pathway.

Positions filled through a GTES agreement should provide opportunities for Australians, including the creation of new jobs for Australians and the transfer of skills and knowledge to Australian workers.

In order to gain access to the GTES program, organisations must demonstrate that they cannot fill the vacancy through existing skilled visa programs, that they are unable to find suitably qualified Australians to fill the position, and that they are in good standing with relevant regulatory agencies.

The program is divided into the Established Business stream and the Start-up stream.

Established Business Stream

This stream enables accredited sponsors to employ workers who will contribute to innovation in an established business.

Some of the features of the established business stream include:

  • Ability to sponsor up to 20 positions per year.
  • Ability to transition to a permanent residence visa after 3 years, including age cap concessions for the purpose of lodging a 186 visa application.
  • Priority processing of applications.
  • A flexible approach to some visa criteria, including access to a 4 year TSS visa.

Businesses using this stream must be accredited sponsors and secure a Labour Agreement, and must have an annual turnover of at least $4 million for each of the past 2 years. In addition, the nominated position must have annual earnings that are at least equivalent to the Fair Work High Income Threshold (currently $148,700).

Furthermore, applicants for the visa must, amongst other things:

  • Demonstrate 3 years of work experience directly relevant to the position.
  • Have a qualification commensurate with the highly skilled role.
  • Have the capacity to pass on skills and develop Australians.

Start-up Stream

This stream is designed to help new businesses sponsor workers with cutting-edge skills to bring new opportunities to the Australian labour market.

Features of the stream include:

  • Ability to sponsor up to 5 positions per year.
  • Ability to transition to a permanent residence visa after 3 years, including age cap concessions.
  • Priority processing of applications.
  • A flexible approach to some visa criteria, including access to 4 year TSS visa.

The eligibility criteria for this stream is quite different. Businesses seeking to utilise this stream must operate in a technology based or STEM field (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). The minimum annual earnings for the position must be at the market salary rate, and not less than $80,000, with a cash component that is not less than the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold. In addition, start-ups seeking to access the GTES must have either received an investment of at least $50,000 from an investment fund registered as an Early Stage Venture Capital Limited Partnership or have received an Accelerating Commercialisation Grant.

When Should Employers use the GTES?

In many circumstances, the GTES will not be the best visa pathway. An established business can only sponsor up to 20 highly-skilled individuals per year using this scheme, while a start-up can sponsor only 5 individuals per year. This contrasts with the short term and medium term TSS visa pathways, which have no limitation on the number of individuals who can be nominated. Furthermore, both the startup stream and the established business stream have higher minimum salary requirements than for other TSS visas. This is in line with the Department’s intention that this visa is for highly skilled individuals.

Therefore, businesses should consider whether the circumstances of the available position and prospective worker are appropriate to pursue a GTES visa. Some situations in which the GTES visa may be appropriate include:

  • The occupation is not listed on either the Medium and Long term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL) or the Short Term Skilled Occupation List (STSTOL). The GTES is not linked to skilled occupation lists. Provided the criteria for the GTES can be met, this provides an opportunity to obtain a 4 year 482 TSS visa even where the occupational classification would rule out a 482 TSS visa using the short and medium term pathways.
  • The occupation is listed on the STSOL. If an occupation is listed on the STSOL, the maximum visa grant period is 2 years, and there is no transitional pathway to permanent residency. If the GTES criteria can be met, a 4 year 482 TSS visa will be granted, opening up a pathway to permanent residency after 3 years.
  • The sponsored employee is over 45 years of age and would like to eventually become a permanent resident. Ordinarily, applicants for employer sponsored permanent residency must be under 45 years of age, unless they fall within specific exemption categories. However, a GTES visa holder may be eligible for permanent residency after three years, despite their age. This may be particularly important for businesses who are trying to attract highly skilled applicants as they will be able to offer an eventual pathway to Australian permanent residency.

The GTES stream has been met with success since its introduction, especially for large organisations requiring highly skilled individuals.

If your organisation would like to discuss the GTES scheme, and how we can assist, please click here to contact Visa Lawyers Australia