What is the change? The Australian Government has announced plans for a new Global Talent Scheme pilot programme aimed at attracting high-income employees and tech specialists.

What does the change mean? The programme will be piloted for the one-year period beginning 1 July, and will feature two components. The first will allow established businesses with an annual turnover of more than A$4 million to sponsor highly skilled workers making more than A$180,000 per year. The second will allow tech- and STEM-based star-up companies to sponsor foreign workers with specialised tech skills. Workers who qualify through either route will be issued a four-year Temporary Skill Shortage (Subclass 482) visa and will be able to apply for permanent residence after three years.

  • Implementation time frame: 1 July 2018.
  • Visas/permits affected: Temporary Skill Shortage (Subclass 482) visas for foreign workers who meet the programme’s criteria.
  • Who is affected: Eligible employers and high-income foreign employees and tech specialists.
  • Business impact: The new visas may be an attractive option, especially because the TSS visa is generally more restrictive than the Subclass 457 visa, which it recently replaced.

Background: In announcing the program, Government officials recognised the “fierce competition” globally for tech specialists and other highly skilled workers. ChinaCanadaFrance and Israel are among a number of countries that have taken steps recently to use immigration incentives to draw top-level foreign workers. Alan Tudge, Australia’s Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs, said the programme is part of the country’s “ongoing reforms to our skilled visa programmees to ensure that Australians have priority for Australian jobs, but acknowledge that there are times when the skills are not available in the country.”

Officials said they will continue to work on the programme’s details over the next couple of months before the 1 July kick-off date. Employers sponsoring high-income workers through the programme will be required to demonstrate that they prioritise the employment of Australians and have plans in place to transfer the foreign employee’s skills to the Australian workforce. Start-up companies will have to be recognised by a forthcoming start-up authority in order to be eligible and will also be required to show that they have a track record of hiring and training Australians.

BAL Analysis: The Global Talent Scheme could prove to be a good option for employers looking to sponsor highly paid foreign workers or tech specialists. Details of the programme must still be finalised. BAL will continue to follow developments in Australia and will alert clients to any significant changes.

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