Tech talent visa scheme to continue

More than 20 'Global Talent Employer Sponsored' agreements made so far

Credit: Photo 100153829 © Wael Alreweie -

The federal government has announced it is making its Global Talent Scheme permanent, following a pilot period which started in July last year.

The scheme – now called the Global Talent Employer Sponsored program (GTES) – aims to make it easier for big business and tech start-ups to hire overseas talent for highly skilled roles.

The announcement of the GTS program in March last year followed widespread criticism of Australia’s migration regime by tech companies following the removal of the 457 temporary visa class.

The 457 scheme – which was frequently used by the technology sector – was replaced by a far more restrictive Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa class, a move which Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes claimed had “damaged Australia’s reputation in the largest industry in the world”.

The GTES has two streams: One for established businesses with an annual turnover of more than $4 million and another aimed at technology-based and STEM-related startups.

GTES’ permit a higher earning threshold than the TSS visa and give individuals access to the ‘permanent resident pathway’.

Agreements last five years with established businesses allowed 20 per year for and start-ups five. Startups’ application must be approved by an advisory panel, chaired by the CEO of advocacy group StartupAUS, Alex McCauley.

“This is solid policy and the continuation of the scheme is a sign that the government is listening to startups and the recommendations we have been putting forward. This program provides a really valuable path to high quality visas for startups all over the country,” McCauley said.

“Now that the pilot is over we’d like to see more companies signing up to take advantage of it,” he added.

To apply for the scheme, businesses must pay fees and advertise the role locally. Although applications made during the pilot period took months to prepare and process, the Department of Home Affairs today said it aims to approve all GTES agreements within two weeks of receiving the necessary paperwork.

To date 23, five-year GTES agreements have been made with companies including Atlassian, Canva, Rio Tinto, Cochlear and Coles; and start-ups such as Emesent, Q-CTRL and Gimour Space Technology.

Canva CEO and cofounder Melanie Perkins noted the schemes benefit to local workers.

“As a result of skills training and knowledge transfer, we’ve been able to strengthen our people’s skills in technology and innovation, which in the long-run will help create more employment and economic opportunities in Australia,” she said.

Michael Biercuk, CEO and founder of Sydney quantum technology start-up Q-CTRL said that the scheme was “essential” to build his business.

Immigration minister David Coleman said the government had decided to continue the scheme as a result of the success of the pilot.

“The pilot showed the GTES has strong support from industry and highlighted the economic benefits of recruiting overseas talent directly to Australian businesses,” he said.

“These highly-skilled overseas workers bring with them unique skills and knowledge that are transferred to Australian businesses, allowing for the creation of further jobs for Australians.”

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