Finally, a genuinely ‘skilled’ visa program emerges

Federal Immigration Minister David Coleman will today officially launch its Global Talent Scheme (GTS) visa program, which will fast track permanent residency visas for 5,000 “high-skilled” people from around the world:

The program aims to establish a high-skilled migration stream that will fast-track visas for 5000 of the world’s best and brightest every year, with the aim of entrenching high-tech industries in Australia.

The intake will not be additional to the annual immigration cap of 160,000 implemented by Scott Morrison. It will be incorporated in the current annual skilled migration cap of 70,000 which is part of the overall intake of 160,000…

As well as being qualified in one of the seven designated fields, successful applicants will either have to be earning above the equivalent of $149,000 a year, which is the Fair Work Australia definition of a high-income earner, or be assessed that they would earn above that if they came here.

So long as they passed the usual security and integrity checks, they will be given specialised treatment by Home Affairs to have their permanent residency fast-tracked…

The eligible fields of expertise are: agricultural technology, fintech, medical technology, cyber security, energy and mining, space and advanced manufacturing, and quantum information.

Given these GTS visas are reserved for highly skilled and highly paid migrants, they are far less likely to be abused by employers and should fill genuine skill gaps across the economy.

In our view, these types of visas should form the backbone of Australia’s immigration system.

That is, the overall intake should be both lowered and recalibrated towards high-skilled and highly paid migrants only. This would maximise productivity, reduce population pressures in the cities, as well as lift wage growth.

Unconventional Economist
Latest posts by Unconventional Economist (see all)


  1. Nobody is going to come on those visas. Because wtf would you want to, if you can earn those sorts of bucks somewhere else?

    (Edit: except of course ethnics to “work” at family companies set up by the rich ethnic patriarchs. So it will be good for rotting, potentially)

    • Anyway, we’ve had similar schemes before and yes, peachy is right: if you are a genuine hot-shot “global talent” – Ash Barty is a global talent and this year she made about 100 times the minimum salary for this subclass – why would you come to Australia when the US or numerous European countries will also bid for your attention. We’ve picked up one or two Nobel Prize winners through similar schemes but I’m guessing that the PR was just icing on the cake, what actually enticed them here was promises for research facilities and support.

      I suspect companies like BHP will use this scheme as a reward for their executives sourced from South Ameria and Africa to spend two or three years working in Australia. Also perhaps some east Asians will use it as a way of securing a home-away-from-home base for their families whilst they themselves stay based where all the action is (ie not here).

      But I agree with the structure of this scheme: offer high calibre applicants permanent residence virtually upfront instead of letting low calibre applicants in on temporary visas on the pretence that we will kick them out later on.

      • Looks good on paper, these highly skilled individuals can help uplifting locals skill sets, reality is that Australian companies do not invest in high skilled industries, too hard for them, easier to just bring low skilled workers and pay them peanuts

    • Jumping jack flash

      “Nobody is going to come on those visas.”

      Lol, you are absolutely correct.
      No company would want a 150K mouth to feed, they probably couldn’t even make good coffee…

  2. That money isn’t that great, I work in cyber security often for both the oz Nz gov and also Banks mining etc. The US dollar is much stronger and they are screaming out for close to 400000 cyber experts. Europe is about 300000 now and that’s most likely a conservative estimate as it won’t take into account emerging technology such as autonomous systems, automation, AI etc as they are so new and no one knows the real demand. Cyber rates have been dropping in oz/NZ as has the standards to govern) and I just don’t want to work in a nasty diverse office space where now I am often a minority, and have to step on glass in fear of offending someone. Lucky for me cyber is a skills shortage so I can go just about anywhere. But 149k I wouldn’t get out of bed for, it doesn’t cover the cost of living in an expensive diverse country. What it will do is let in more people from the 3rd world making me more of a minority. I would rather be around my own people, this might sound racist but anything a white guy says it’s considered racist these days so it doesn’t matter. Will keep people posted as to my Eastern European adventure.

    • Some big Aussie companies like NBN, CBA and Telstra have offshored all their cyber work to India and Philippines.
      There seems to be a decent number of people floating around locally.

  3. “Given these GTS visas are reserved for highly skilled and highly paid migrants, they are far less likely to be abused by employers and should fill genuine skill gaps across the economy.”

    I’m old enough to remember when the 457 visa was rolled out – originally it was only going to be applied to special talent cases, like foreign CEO’s, and was ‘envisaged’ never to amount to more than a couple hundred visas a year.

  4. It will be used as a means to reduce profits here by multinationals. Sub contract the work out to a GTS visa holder who actually works for you company back home, bring them here, pay them a bonus and charge your local subsidiary a fortune to avoid tax here.

    Tech companies already do this, they will just do more of it…

  5. ” This would maximise productivity, reduce population pressures in the cities, as well as lift wage growth.”
    All of these items are in the interests of Australians.
    None of these items are in the interests of Liberal party lobbyists and donors.

  6. Disagree. Haven’t read the detail but based on above – Indian CHINESE Malaysian etc licking their lips. Set up Aussie co, employ son/ daughter niece nephew etc at $150k and bam family gets them in

  7. Wait, hold on. Are you implying that all the other migrants coming in under current visa categories aren’t really all that “high skilled” after all?

    Imagine my shock.

  8. Jumping jack flash

    5,000 “highly skilled” professionals to be paid 150K.

    Well it would probably be ok if we actually had any reason to utilise them. A 150k barista or hairdresser or Deliveroo rider? Don’t think so.

    And considering that a local “highly skilled” professional would need to be 2x this asking price.

    But then again, if you’re a business owner, why buy the cow? Outsource the technical requirement cheaply to Chindia and reap the profits.