Why the Innovative Global Talent Independent Program is here to stay?

Why the Innovative Global Talent Independent Program is here to stay?

The Global Talent Independent program offers applicants a fast tracked Permanent Residence to live and work in Australia. They have designed the program to attract the top global talent to Australia. With the current pause on US Immigration, the GTI offers the Australian Government a chance to bring on some of the best global talent to work in Australia. In this post, we’d be discussing the future of the GTI Program in Australia.

Recently I came across this blog post by Abul Rizvi, who was a Senior Official in the Department of Immigration for the Government of Australia from 1997 to 2007. The article argues against the Global Talent Independent program in its current form. In this post, the author raises some valid concerns against the program, broadly:

  • The role and economics of the Global Talent Officers selecting the candidates
  • Employer usage of the GTI Visa
  • Immigration integrity

While Mr. Rizvi has extensive experience in the field and makes some interesting points – I intend to draw up some points which would help relieve some concerns around the program raised in the article.

Role & Economics of the Global Talent Officers

By end January 2020, some 227 visas (including spouses and children) had been issued under the GTI program. Having posted seven very expensive staff around the world to drum up interest in the GTI program, the Government will view the 227 visas as a very poor return.

It is a long way short of the 5,000 places allocated for 2019-20 and questions would have to be asked about how many additional applicants the seven overseas posted staff generated compared to those generated by Australian employers?

So how long before decision-makers are pressured to be more expansive in their approach and/or apply less diligence?
How long before the range of industry sectors covered by the GTI is expanded? Or the definition of existing sectors is expanded? Or the definition of employers with a ‘national reputation’ is expanded? Or the ability to earn the required salary is assessed more flexibly?

The author seems to consider this as a zero-sum game – which is surprising because the author is prominent in Australia’s immigration policies.

You can’t quantitatively define the success of this program by measuring it against the salaries of the Global Talent Officers. The prospective immigrants under this program will pay taxes, start companies, employ other Australians and generate revenue. The Return on Investment will be multiples of the collective salaries of the GTO team. The entire premise of this program relies on a qualitative assessment of prospective immigrants rather than a quantitative assessment.

Apart from vetting applications, The Global Talent officers also speak at conferences, network in various industry sectors and advertise the program globally. This ensures that the program finds interest from deserving candidates who have overlooked Australia as a destination to immigrate.

The program launched in Nov 2019 and is still finding its way through the Pandemic. 227 grants till January is a very impressive number for a program which is 2 months old and just getting started.

The numbers in the following months have followed the same pattern. This is great because it ensures quality over quantity. Rather than a 5000 person quota, the Global Talent Officers ensure the 1000 grants under this program are for quality candidates.

The program would need to be in flux and extend its Industry Sectors – not to fill the quotas, but to meet the demands of a highly complex and constantly developing global economy. The government should look at doubling the number of Global Talent Officers – who seem short staffed. Especially when the US – a leader in technology is not welcoming highly skilled immigrants.

Employer usage of the Global Talent Independent Visa

The GTI is starting to emerge as a ‘go to’ visa for major employers. Not surprising as the GTI includes no sponsorship obligations or cost for the nominating employer.

There is no legal requirement for the employer to actually pay the $148,700 salary. In fact the employer does not even have to employ the nominated migrant.

The employer also doesn’t need to have a demonstrated record of training Australians or to make any payment to the Skilling Australia Fund.
As there is no nominated ‘position’ to be filled, the nominating employer does not need to test the labour market.

To drum up more applications for the GTI program, experienced migration agents say the Department is encouraging employers intending to use an employer-sponsored visa to instead consider the GTI. This has four serious problems because it:
reduces visa application revenue;
reduces protections for overseas employees;
risks immigration integrity; and
doesn’t actually increase the overall number of skilled people being recruited – it becomes a political zero-sum game as it merely shifts migrants who would have entered under an employer-sponsored visa category to the GTI program purely to meet a presentational objective.

The author seems to have confused the two tracks of sponsoring eligible candidates between GTES and GTI. Employers who enroll under the GTES program to sponsor candidates have a list of extensive eligibility criteria that they need to fulfil, which includes –

  • – Employing the candidate
  • – Labour market testing
  • – Contribute to the Skilling Australia Fund

The current batch of 45 companies includes names like Atlassian, Canva and Amazon who are global technology leaders.

In my experience, Global Talent is being offered to highly experienced candidates who have decades of work experience and make significant contributions in their respective fields.

Under the GTI, Prominent Australian individuals in the same field as the candidate can also nominate candidates. The department looks for extensive proof of prominence for the nominator during application. Add to that, no one will put their reputation at risk and nominate a candidate who they don’t believe is valuable to the community.

The GTI program also offers a simple pathway for Offshore candidates. This increases the number of highly skilled people available to businesses and industries in Australia. The one positive change to the program recently has been allowing ACS nominate offshore candidates who cannot find an Australian nominator.

Overall, this program provides employers in Australia with a highly talented pool of candidates. Unlike the TSS482 Visa, candidates aren’t tied to their employers and are free to move within the Australian labour market based on their skills.

Immigration Integrity

There is no legal requirement for the applicant to undergo a formal skills assessment or undertake an English language test. The applicant can be of any age.
For GTI visa applications to be processed ‘within a week or two’, health and character checks for a permanent visa must be undertaken in record time. Health and character checks for permanent residence visas are generally more extensive than for temporary residence.

The Global Talent Contact Form asks for extensive documentation. People eligible for a minimum wage of 148,000$ in Australia will not fail a skills assessment or an English language test. The recipients of this visa are running their own companies, leading academic research and have global experience.

This is actually a distinct advantage of the program over the 189/190 GSM pathway. A candidate with 10+ years of experience need not go through a Skills assessment. The Global Talent Officers play an important role when they manually assess the candidates resume. It’s designed more like a College admission process which makes a Skills assessment or English language test redundant.

The program looks for a Functional English requirement (IELTS 6.0), which is equivalent to any other Employer nominated or Temporary skilled visa.

The candidates invited under this program who are prominent people in their industries. It’s encouraging for them because they don’t have to substitute their work experience with a skills assessment only useful for Immigration.

A Novel Approach to Immigration

In conclusion, Australia will benefit massively from the novel approach to immigration with the Global Talent Independent program. The program needs more marketing and resources from the Government to continue to attract even more highly skilled immigrants to Australia, especially in a post Pandemic world. It needs to constantly updated with the demands from the Industries and feedback from eligible Candidates.

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