Global Talent Employer Sponsored Pilot Programme to continue permanently

The Government has recently announced that it has made the Global Talent Employer Sponsored programme (GTES) (formerly the Global Talent Scheme) permanent, following a successful pilot last financial year. The GTES program enables employers to sponsor overseas workers for highly skilled niche positions where they cannot otherwise be filled from either the Australian workforce, or through other visa programs (including the Subclass 482 Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa). The GTES is one type of Labour Agreement available under the skilled visa programme. 

The GTES programme aims to attract globally mobile, highly skilled and specialised individuals’ to businesses in Australia, helping them to grow, developing local industry, and creating more jobs and opportunities for Australians and, in turn, contributing to the overall growth of the economy. By sharing their unique skills and knowledge, these highly skilled overseas workers will help to upskill the local workforce and effectively work as ‘job multipliers,’ assisting businesses to recruit Australians and fill areas of critical need. The programme achieves this by requiring businesses under a GTES agreement to demonstrate, throughout the agreement period, how sponsored positions have translated into creating opportunities for local employees (by, for example, creating new jobs for Australians, and/or enabling local workers to acquire relevant knowledge and skills). The Department has set aside 5,000 places for the GTES programme in the current migration year (2019/20).

To date, there have been 29 GTES agreements entered into with companies who are seeking to fill specialised positions. These agreements have a term of five years and enable established businesses to access up to 20 highly skilled overseas workers each year.  Start-up companies can access up to five positions annually under the programme.

Some of the key features of the GTES program are outlined below:

  • Provides eligible Australian employers with the ability to sponsor overseas workers in highly skilled occupations which are not otherwise eligible for nomination under other visa programs (such as the TSS visa);
  • Comprises of two visa streams, namely, an Established business and Startup stream;
  • The minimum nominated salary that must be paid to a GTES visa holder is higher than an under the TSS visa programme; 
  • Standard TSS visa requirements can be varied under a GTES agreement;
  • A GTES visa has a term of up to four years and provides a pathway to permanent residence;
  • Age requirements for the permanent residence pathway can be varied; and
  • Priority processing of GTES applications by the Department means a quicker turnaround time for a decision to be made and in turn, implementation of the programme by business.

To participate in the GTES programme, sponsoring employers and visa applicants must meet certain specified requirements. These will vary, depending on the visa stream selected. The main features and criteria to qualify for each stream are listed below.

Established business stream

This stream enables employers, who are accredited sponsors under the TSS visa programme, to employ workers to assist in innovating an established Australian business with their unique skills and knowledge.

The main features of the established business stream are listed below:

  • Allows sponsoring businesses to fill up to 20 positions per year. Each position and visa applicant must meet all relevant criteria to qualify;
  • Provides flexibility in regard to certain visa criteria, including access to 4-year TSS visas;
  • Provides a pathway to permanent residence after 3 years, including concessions to the age limit;
  • Involves a simpler application process and faster processing; and
  • should the position cease, the visa holder will have 60 days to either find a new sponsor and apply for a new visa, or they will be required to leave Australia.

To be eligible under this stream, the sponsoring employer must:

  • Demonstrate that participating in the GTES will support employment opportunities and the transfer of skills to Australians;
  • Provide evidence that Labour Market Testing (LMT) has been conducted to recruit Australians in the positions for which the business is seeking to nominate workers under the GTES;
  • Have a good record with relevant regulatory agencies and comply with all relevant laws (including immigration and workplace laws);
  • Either be publicly listed, or have an annual turnover of at least AUD $4 million in each of the previous two years; and
  • Be endorsed as an TSS accredited sponsor.

Visa applicants must meet the following criteria to be eligible for a GTES visa under the established business stream:

  • Health, character and security requirements;
  • Not have a family relationship with directors and/or shareholders of the sponsoring business;
  • Have qualifications that correspond with the highly skilled nominated position;
  • Have a minimum of three years’ work experience, which is directly relevant to the nominated position; and
  • Be able to transfer to, and develop, the skills of Australians.

The annual earnings for the nominated position must be at least AUD $148,700 (as at 1 July 2019). This is based on the Fair Work High Income Threshold (which changes annually).

Startup stream

Under this GTES stream, eligible employers can sponsor overseas workers who possess unique and innovative skills to help develop the local startup industry by contributing their ideas, knowledge and skills to create new jobs and technologies in Australia. This stream is available to startups in a technology-based or STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) field.

The main features of this stream are:

  • Employers can sponsor up to 5 nominated positions per year. Each position and visa applicant must meet all relevant criteria to qualify;
  • Flexibility in certain visa criteria, including access to 4-year TSS visas;
  • Provides a pathway to permanent residence after 3 years, including concessions to the age limit;
  • A simpler application process and faster processing;
  • If the nominated position ceases, the visa holder will have 60 days to find a new sponsor and apply for a new visa, or they will be required to depart Australia; and
  • The startup must be assessed and endorsed by an independent GTES Startup Advisory Panel.

as being a viable and genuine startup.

To qualify under this stream, the employer is required to:

  • Demonstrate that participating in the GTES will support employment opportunities and the transfer of skills to Australians;
  • Provide evidence that LMT has been conducted to recruit Australians in the positions for which the business is seeking to nominate workers under the GTES;
  • Have a good record with relevant regulatory agencies and comply with all relevant laws (including immigration and employment laws); and
  • Operate in a technology based or STEM-related field. This includes digital, biomedical and agtech fields.

The employer must also meet at least one of the following requirements:

The visa applicant must meet the following criteria to qualify under the startup stream:

  • Health, character and security requirements;
  • Not have a family relationship with directors and/or shareholders of the sponsoring business;
  • Have qualifications that correspond with the highly skilled nominated position;
  • Have a minimum of three years’ work experience which is directly relevant to the nominated position; and
  • Have the capacity to transfer to, and develop, the skills of Australians.

The annual earnings for the nominated position must be the market salary rate, and not less than AUD $80,000. This amount may comprise of an equity component; however, the cash portion must be at least AUD $53,900. This is based on the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT), which is subject to change.

 

Global Talent Employer Sponsored Pilot Programme

What are the Labour Market Testing requirements?

When requesting a GTES agreement, prospective sponsoring employers must provide evidence to demonstrate that they have attempted to recruit for the relevant position/s from within the Australian labour market. This is referred to as Labour Market Testing (LMT). For each specific occupation, the employer must provide evidence of two such attempts. In this regard, there are no prescribed requirements as to the content of advertisements or for how long they are expected to run. Immigration will assess each advertising attempt on a case-by-case to determine whether it genuinely tests the Australian market.

As a guide, Immigration has provided the following examples of what they would consider to be appropriate forms of LMT under the GTES:

  • Recruitment websites including technology based global employment sites (such as LinkedIn Jobs – evidence includes a copy of the job advertisement and/or invoice, and data on performance of each job advertised (e.g. the response rate, etc.);
  • The employer’s website – this form of advertising would only be accepted for employers applying under the established business stream – a copy of the advertisement should be provided as part of the application;
  • Executive Search firms (commonly referred to as headhunting) – evidence may include an invoice and/or receipt for recruitment services; a summary of the search undertaken by the firm; a copy of the contract between the employer and the executive search firm; 
  • Networking or referrals, the outcome of which identifies globally recognised talent from overseas – evidence may include a written referral or an endorsement by industry leader/expert in their field, which explains why the identified individual is the only person (or one of very few people), who could perform the nominated position, and no Australian worker is available.

In cases where it is not possible to provide evidence of 2 attempts to recruit for the position in Australia (due to, for example, there being a very limited global pool of suitable candidates and thus the methods outline above are not suitable), the employer should provide a statement to explain these circumstances when applying for the GTES agreement.

For intra-corporate transfers of an existing employee of a company to another branch or associated entity of that company operating in Australia, a formal letter of transfer or other documentation outlining the intra-corporate transfer arrangement can be provided by the employer as LMT evidence.

If the employer appoints a third party to undertake the LMT (e.g. by an associated entity or a contracted party such as a recruitment agency or executive search firm), the employer can provide a summary of the search undertaken.

The LMT obligations of the sponsoring employer continue throughout the term of the GTES agreement, with evidence to be provided for each specified position every 12 months.

Where a sponsoring employer is seeking to vary a GTES agreement by adding new occupations, LMT evidence must also be provided.

What is the application process?

The steps involved are as follows:

Step 1: the employer Indicates their interest in the GTES programme

To apply under the established business stream, the employer needs to submit an online GTES labour agreement request on ImmiAccount (the Department’s online lodgement system). All relevant documents should be attached with the application. Additional information about this process is also provided in the Established Business Information Guide, which can be requested by contacting the Department.

For the startup stream, the employer is required to email the Department with the following information:

  • Business name and ABN/ACN;
  • Description of the position/s required and evidence of why the position/s is not available or cannot be accessed through standard visa pathways; and
  • Provide evidence of an investment of at least AUD $50,000 from an investment fund registered as an ESVCLP, or a receipt of an Accelerating Commercialisation Grant.

Subject to meeting the above criteria, the Department will arrange for the startup to be assessed by the Startup Advisory Panel.

Step 2: Assessment by the Department

The Department will then assess the application based on the information provided. Employers should ensure complete and correct information and documents are supplied to prevent delays in processing. Failure to provide all relevant information can also result in the application being rejected.

The expected processing period is 6-11 business days (for complete applications).

Step 3: If approved, the agreement must be signed

Where the employer meets all the required criteria for approval of a GTES agreement, the Department will send the agreement to the employer for signature.

Step 4: Nomination and visa application

Once the GTES agreement has been finalised and executed, the employer will receive a unique code (Permission Request ID) to be used when lodging nomination applications online (a separate application is required for each nominee).

Each overseas workers whom the employer seeks to nominate under the GTES programme is also required to apply for a TSS visa online. Their application will be assessed under the criteria as set out in the GTES agreement with their sponsoring employer.

Both the nomination and visa applications should be decided within 5 business days (subject to lodging a complete application).

For a list of current GTES agreements, please click here (Labour Agreement (LA) type is GTS).

Sources/links and further information

The Hon David Coleman MP – Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs. Joint media release with The Hon Karen Andrews MP, Minister for Industry, Science and Technology – Australian businesses sign on to Global Talent Scheme, Monday, 17 December 2018.

https://minister.homeaffairs.gov.au/davidcoleman/Pages/aust-businesses-sign-on-global-talent-scheme.aspx

The Hon David Coleman MP – Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs. Media Release. Strengthening Australia’s ability to attract the best and brightest, Thursday, 20 December 2018.

Australian Government, Department of Home Affairs. Immigration and Citizenship. The Administration of the Immigration and Citizenship Program. Migration program planning levels.

https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/what-we-do/migration-program-planning-levels

The Hon Karen Andrews MP. Minister for Industry, Science and Technology. Media Release. Government makes Global Talent program permanent to attract the world’s best and brightest. 8 August 2019. Joint media release with the Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs, the Hon David Coleman MP.

https://www.minister.industry.gov.au/ministers/karenandrews/media-releases/government-makes-global-talent-program-permanent-attract

Australian Government, Department of Home Affairs. Immigration and Citizenship. ​Global Talent Employer Sponsored (GTES).

https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/visas/working-in-australia/visas-for-innovation/global-talent-scheme

​Australian Government, Department of Home Affairs. Immigration and Citizenship. Nominating a position. Labour Agreements – List of current labour agreements

https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/visas/employing-and-sponsoring-someone/sponsoring-workers/nominating-a-position/labour-agreements/list-of-current-labour-agreements

Australian Government, Business. Grants, assistance & other support. Venture Capital. Early Stage Venture Capital Limited Partnerships (ESVCLP).

https://www.business.gov.au/assistance/venture-capital/early-stage-venture-capital-limited-partnership

Australian Government, Business. Grants, assistance & other support. Entrepreneurs’ Programme. Accelerating Commercialisation.

https://www.business.gov.au/assistance/entrepreneurs-programme/accelerating-commercialisation

Australian Government, Fair Work Ombudsman. Awards & agreements. Award & agreement free wages & conditions.

https://www.fairwork.gov.au/awards-and-agreements/award-and-agreement-free-wages-and-conditions